Following years in front of the camera, first as Del Boy in the brilliant Only Fools and Horses, then as Detective Jack Frost in the crime drama, A Touch of Frost and, most recently, as the Queen’s incompetent minder in The Royal Bodyguard, Sir David Jason is stepping behind the camera for his next project. Pearly Gates, which stars The Fast Show‘s Mark Williams and is written by Ben Sweet, centers around a family-owned funeral business. Working with Jason on the project will be Gareth Gwenlan, former BBC Comedy head and Only Fools and Horses producer-director. Most recently, Gwenlan produced the OFAH ‘prequel’ series, Rock & Chips starring Nicholas Lyndhurst.
Not at all happy with the state of British situation comedy these days, Jason explained his thoughts behind the concept of Pearly Gates, “The subject of death and the funeral business is something that’s changed quite a lot over the years – it’s not all sadness, sorrow and grieving anymore. There can be quite a lot of humour as we celebrate someone’s passing. I thought of the idea of bringing a classic bit of British humour out of that scenario and creating a dysfunctional family of funeral directors who get up to a load of mischief as they go along.”
A recent critic of the notion that Only Fools and Horses has been scheduled for an American re-make, Jason recently revealed that he has been negotiating to take Everybody Loves Raymond in the other direction and make a UK version. “I’ve always thought it needs a wider audience,” he says. “I could never understand why they didn’t put it out at prime time because it’s so good. And so I said: ‘Why don’t we do an English version?‘”