Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses: The heart-warming story behind why Del Boy star David Jason changed his name

Can you imagine the actor without his iconic surname?

Despite Sir David Jason’s name now being an undeniable household name, what many Only Fools and Horses fans may not realise is that the Del Boy actor actually started out his career with a completely different one before changing it to the one we all recognise today.

David, was actually born with the surname White, before being told he’d have to find a new one as an actor as the name David White was already taken. The name he ended up choosing also has a heart-warming story behind it as he was inspired by a fond childhood memory.

Speaking on a 1984 edition of ITV breakfast show TV AM, he explained: “What happened was that years ago when I was at school, the teacher used to read stories, and you know when people read you a story it’s a wonderful thing. If you get a good storyteller they can paint pictures for you in your mind and this teacher was particularly good, she could read particularly well.

David recalled the fond memory in a 1984 ITV interview (Image: ITV)

“She used to read an episode of Jason and the Argonauts something like every other day and it was a thing to look forward to. At like five to three all the kids would have their chin in their hands waiting, completely transported by this teacher reading the story.

“It was such a clear image in my mind, she made it so exciting that I never forgot it. And then the hero Jason was this marvellous, incredible superman.

“So when I wanted to become an actor there was already an actor called David White, which is my real name and you can’t have two actors with the same name. So they asked me would I like to change my name and I tried one or two others.

“But then suddenly for no reason, as I’d never thought of Jason and the Argonauts really since that time, 20 years later the name walked right across my mind, so I asked ‘what about Jason’?

“She said ‘hold on a minute’ flicked through all her files and said ‘yeah there isn’t anybody called Jason’, there were one or two close ones, I’m always getting confused with David Jansen.”

And that, in his own words, was how David Jason happened upon his stage name which now half a century later is a household name due to his excellent work as Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses, as well as Open All Hours and a Touch of Frost.

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