David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst's 'feud' - from on-set row to vow never to work together

Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst, the iconic duo known for their roles as Del Boy and Rodney Trotter in Only Fools and Horses, have been at the centre of rumours regarding an off-screen 'feud'. Despite their undeniable on-screen rapport throughout the 22 years of the show, there have been whispers that the pair have had a falling out since they last appeared together in the series and have made a pact not to work with each other again.

The beloved actors, who brought the mischievous market traders to life, have both received acclaim for their performances in the cherished BBC sitcom. Their last joint appearance was during the jubilant Christmas special of Only Fools and Horses in 2003.

They briefly reprised their roles as the Trotter brothers in a one-off special in 2014, but Sir David, now 83, has expressed that another reunion is off the cards, stating it "will never happen", as reports the Mirror.

'Squabble' behind the scenes

David and Nicholas once shocked the crew of Only Fools and Horses by staging a huge row on set, reportedly. Recalling the incident from an episode shot in 1989, David said: "One day, Nick and I were in our very small caravan on location. We were all fed up because nothing was happening so [we] said 'why don't we stage a huge row and you can storm out and say you're leaving and I can shout at you saying 'don't you ever come back again. I never want to work with you."

The BAFTA-winning actor continued: "The whole crew went stiff. Five minutes later, the producer and director came to see me, looking terrified. They asked what was happening and I told them to go see Nick. When they did, I couldn't hold back my laughter any longer. Their faces turned from white to purple. I don't think the producer was very impressed."

Not as close as they once were

Their staged fight took place in the late eighties, but the once-solid bond between David and Nicholas sadly weakened over the next couple of years. This was despite their past admissions of being great pals outside of the Only Fools and Horses set.

David once referred to Nicholas as the perfect co-star in an interview, stating that they were "good friends". Nicholas made his feelings clear in a 2017 chat with Red Carpet News, stating: "We had a very similar work ethic and ethos - that we wanted to do our best as quickly as possible. You didn't have very long to record an episode [...] We didn't have much time to rehearse it so we had to have each other's back."

Nicholas Lyndhurst and David Jason were once close colleagues -Credit:Getty Images
Nicholas Lyndhurst and David Jason were once close colleagues -Credit:Getty Images

Yet by 2022, the warmth between them appeared to have diminished. Sir David confessed in an interview that their communication had waned, revealing: "He's much more, how can I say, self-contained, perhaps, than he used to be. So, unfortunately, we don't see each other as much as I'd like to. But that's how things work out sometimes."

The retreat from public life for Nicholas followed the devastating loss of his son Archie at just 20-years-old in 2020, who passed away due to a brain haemorrhage caused by acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Speaking on behalf of himself and his wife Lucy Smith at the time, Nicholas issued a heart-wrenching statement: "Lucy and I are utterly grief stricken and respectfully request privacy."

Feud Rumours Quashed

Despite the buzz in 2022 suggesting a serious rift between David and Nicholas after the latter's comments about their reduced contact, it appears there was no major fallout. Reports indicate that David has been supportive of his on-screen sibling during the difficult period following the tragic death of his son.

After the tragic passing of his son Archie at the tender age of 20, David is reported to have been a rock for his former colleague and his wife Lucy. A source disclosed to The Sun: "He's [David] been in regular touch [with Nicholas] ever since and like everyone else who cares for Nick and his family is just trying to provide whatever support he can."

Actors (L-R) Nicholas Lyndhurst, Buster Merryfield and David Jason pictured in bed together during the filming of episode 'The Class of '62' of the BBC Television sitcom 'Only Fools and Horses', December 20th 1990. (Photo by Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images)
Nicholas Lyndhurst, Buster Merryfield and David Jason starred in Only Fools and Horses. -Credit:Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images

During a Channel 5 documentary last year that celebrated the enduring appeal of Only Fools and Horses, David Jason quashed any speculation of a falling out. He lavished praise on Nicholas, saying: "You couldn't have had a better co-partner than Nic. We liked and respected each other so much, we were genuinely good friends. You couldn't have had a better co-partner than Nic."

New co-star

In early news this year, it was revealed that David would leap at the opportunity to reprise his role as the beloved Derek 'Del Boy' Trotter one more time. However, with the sad loss of Only Fools and Horses creator John Sullivan, a revival seems improbable.

Yet, there could be another factor preventing an Only Fools comeback Nicholas' burgeoning career in America.

Nicholas returned to the spotlight last year following the heartbreaking death of his son in 2020, landing a part in the reboot of the iconic series Frasier. His first appearance in October as Alan Cornwall, a British professor and Frasier's pal, concluded with a tribute not only to former stars but also a poignant homage to his late son.

A warm tribute on the reboot of Frasier remembered Archie, who was best known for his character Ollie in CBBC's So Awkward and as Luke in BBC comedy Bad Education.

As the fresh series premiered, a heartfelt message appeared on-screen in memory of Archie, script supervisor Gabrielle James and Frasier legend John Mahoney.

It said: "In loving memory of Gabrielle James and Archie Lyndhurst."

A touching clip of John, who sadly passed away in 2018, then aired, with the late actor in character as Martin Crane saying "It all works out."

It seems the words, said in the poignant video clip, are particularly fitting considering what the family has endured recently.

Looking ahead at the latest series, lead star Kelsey Grammar spoke fondly of his former Man of La Mancha co-star.

Speaking last year about the reboot, the iconic actor told Deadline: "And then, of course, there's Alan, played by a dear friend of mine, Nick Lyndhurst."

Painting a picture of their friendship and professional relationship, Kelsey gushed: "He's stealth warfare. He is just the sneakiest most talented actor I've ever worked with. We previously joined forces in London on the musical, Man of La Mancha. We made plans to unite [our partners] and we inevitably became best friends.

"When the concept of Frasier having a best friend stirred into the narrative, it was consistently Nicholas. I had asked him back in England before we officially started if he would be open to participating in the new Frasier. To which he replied, 'Are you joking? I would do anything to collab with you again each day' - a sentiment I resonate with completely."

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