Only Fools and Horses: Jim Broadbent details why he turned down Del Boy role

David Jason discusses stunts in Only Fools and Horses

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Sir David Jason became a household name after being cast as Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter in BBC’s Only Fools and Horses. However, writer John Sullivan initially had another actor in his mind for the wheeler-dealer character. Speaking on The Graham Norton Show, Jim Broadbent opens up on why he turned down the iconic role. 

The actor appears on Friday’s edition of the chat show which is filmed ahead of time. 

Jim and Helen Mirren join Graham to discuss their new comedy crime drama The Duke. 

However, when asked about the roles he is most famous for, Jim opens up about the Only Fools and Horses role he missed out on.

He says: “Originally I was the second choice for Del Boy. 

Read more: Only Fools and Horses: Del Boy was ‘biggest headache’ for BBC

“The first choice was Enn Reitel, but he didn’t fancy it and I couldn’t do it because I was doing a show in the West End.

“Luckily David Jason was available so my biggest contribution to British culture is not being available!”

Despite missing out on the iconic Del Boy role, Jim starred as recurring bent copper Roy Slater in the sitcom. 

“It’s Only Fools and Horses more than anything else and it goes across the generations – kids who weren’t even alive when we made it say Slater is their favourite.”

Graham goes on to quiz Jim and Helen about their new project produced by Nicky Bentham. 

The Duke tells the true story of 60-year-old taxi driver Kempton Bunton who stole Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London in 1961.

It was the first and is still the only theft in the Gallery’s history. 

The thief went on to send ransom notes claiming he would return to the painting if the Government invested more in care for the elderly. 

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Talking about her role, Helen says: “I swore to myself that I would never play a character that is described as the ‘long suffering,’ but she is, and she is a great character.”

“This turned out to be Roger Michell’s last film,” she continues. 

“He was a great film director and I think it is wonderful to have this as his last because it is very funny, but at the same time it has great emotional depth.”

Elsewhere on the show, Helen opens up on what it was it was like spending lockdown in America with her husband Taylor Hackford. 

How well do you know your British soaps?

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What happened to Emily Bishop in Coronation Street?

Who murdered Maxine Peacock in Coronation Street in 2003?

Which incident in 1993 killed off four characters in Emmerdale?

When did the show stop being known as Emmerdale Farm?

On what date did Hollyoaks air its first episode?

What was the name of the much-loved Coronation Street pet dog who was put down in April 2020 after 14 years?

1996 saw the arrival of one of Hollyoaks all time bad boys and rival of Kurt Benson, but who was he?

Who is the longest serving character on Coronation Street?

Who shot Phil in EastEnders?

How many fires have there been at Corrie’s Rovers Return? 

Get out of my pub, you’re no soaps fan

You’re either too young to remember the big lines or have better things to do on weekday evenings 

Casual viewer 

You watch them sometimes so you kinda know what’s been going on 

Die hard fan

You love watching the soaps so much your entire week is planned around when they air

The actress has been married to the film director since 1997. 

Helen explains how grateful she was to spend so much time with her husband.

She tells Graham: “For the first time in 30 odd years of marriage we sat at the table opposite each other and had dinner together every night for six months – it was fantastic, brilliant.”

The Graham Norton Show airs on BBC One tonight at 10.35pm.

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