JIM COULD HAVE BEEN DEL BOY
is a nice memorial to him and his work. They picked an excellent school for me in sending me to board at Leighton Park. It was created for Quakers in the late 19th century and set in what seemed to me to be a huge and lovely park. Coming from Lincolnshire it was ideal for me really because I was used to open countryside and Leighton Park certainly had that. I don’t think I could have coped with going to a school in the middle of a city at that stage in my life.
“The school was quite strict but probably no more than I was used to at home, but for some reason, I did rebel. Perhaps it was homesickness or just growing up, but I was a bad lad for a while. Academically I was doing all right, but I did tend to talk back at the teachers and was often in trouble for that – quite rightly.
“I was caught drinking and that was the end of it. I was expelled and as a result I didn’t get to take my A levels, for which I was studying. It was all out of character. The school did their best but I was going through a strange phase. I wasn’t like that before and I don’t think I could ever be described as a rebel during my life since then.
“I don’t look back and regret things very much because you
“Yes, it’s true,” says Jim. “I was offered the part of Del Boy but I didn’t feel that it was quite right for me. I was probably too tall for a start and the Jack the Lad character was not quite my style. As it turned out, David Jason was perfect and he played Del Boy far better than I could have done. I was happy as [bent copper] Roy Slater. Only Fools and Horses was a great series. For me it was an honour to have been part of one of the most successful comedy shows in television history and work alongside
David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst; a fantastic experience and a lot of fun. Whenever I went back it was like visiting the family again. There was always a great atmosphere.” cannot change what was, only what might be, but I think I could have enjoyed Leighton Park more and probably would have been successful with my exams because they did make a big effort for me. I have some good memories of being at Leighton Park and from what I gather there have been many successful pupils who have emerged from there and gone on to great things.”
Jim did, of course, go on to great things. He is often spotted in the street these days but because he tends to keep a low profile many people are not quite sure if they have spotted the Oscar winner and the star of so many movies, or someone who just looks like that bloke who played Roy Slater in Only Fools and Horses. “I have never been interested in being famous for the sake of it,” says Jim. “I am just grateful that it all worked out and that I’m an actor.”
He certainly is. To Hollywood he is a celebrated Oscar winner, to television viewers he will always be Roy Slater, the bent copper, but Jim Broadbent just sees himself as an actor trying his best to do his job.
LEFT: Jim Broadbent at the world premiere of King of Thieves, held at the Vue West End in 2018