"As the star of Only Fools and Horses and Open All Hours, Sir David Jason is responsible for some of the most amusing moments on television. The comic actor says many of them would, however, never make it to the screen these days because of a growing “political correctness” that is killing comedy.
Sir David, who was knighted by the Queen in 2005, points to the speech impediment suffered by Ronnie Barker’s shopkeeper, Arkwright, in Open All Hours, which created much gentle comedy.
“Barker’s character had a stutter and he got nothing but good mail from people who stuttered because, basically, they were saying they bring people to the front,” he says at the first anniversary performance of Shrek The Musical at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. “The other thing was that they didn’t think it was disrespectful. He only ever got positive responses.”
Earlier this month, a tabloid newspaper was widely criticised after it published a headline poking fun at the speech impediment suffered by Roy Hodgson, the newly appointed England football manager. The Press Complaints Commission said it had received more than 100 complaints.
Sir David points out that one of the most popular episodes of Only Fools and Horses, called “Stage Fright”, involves a nightclub singer who can’t pronounce his Rs.