Only Fools and Horses: Sir David Jason’s wife shares ‘shock’ at surprise daughter and embraces her into family
The Only Fools and Horses icon, Sir David, discovered that he was the father of actress Abi Harris, and also has a 10-year-old grandson
Sir David Jason’s wife Lady Gill White has told of the family’s shock at discovering the Only Fools and Horses star has a 52-year-old daughter.
The 83-year-old actor has made the discovery that he is the father of actress Abi Harris, and also has a 10-year-old grandson. Sir David, his 62-year-old wife, and their daughter Sophie, 22, have welcomed the pair into their family and are working on getting to know one another.
Lady Gill has since showered daughter Sophie with praise for her maturity as they try to build up a relationship with Abi, reports The Mirror.
She said: “I can only imagine what a shock it was for David and Abi to realise their new relationship and so I felt very supportive towards them from the start. It is lovely to embrace Abi into our family and I’m so pleased that everyone has been so understanding.
“We obviously waited for the right moment to tell Sophie as it was a massive surprise for her too. David took her off and worded it beautifully and she took it all in with great understanding and maturity.”
Sir David had a brief relationship with Abi’s actor mum Jennifer Hill in 1970, when they starred in a theatre production of Under Milk Wood at the Mayfair theatre in London.
Jennifer, who appeared in the James Bond film Octopussy, later married fellow actor Geoffrey Davion, a star of Miss Marple, and Abi grew up believing he was her father until his death in 1996.
Following discussions with her mum, Abi, who has starred in Doctor Who, started to suspect she could be Sir David’s daughter.
She noticed he had the same nose as her and at that point became convinced he was her biological dad.
Abi wrote to Sir David asking if he would take a paternity test, which he agreed to.
She started the note with a quote from Under Milk Wood, which read: “To begin at the beginning. Or to be more precise, my beginning…”
When the DNA result come back as a match it was a bolt from the blue.
Sir David said: “To say it was a surprise to find out that I had a daughter from years ago is an understatement.
“However, on settling with the news, I am delighted that I am now able to get to know Abi and so we meet up when we can. My wife, Gill, and daughter, Sophie, have been very supportive and understanding and have embraced Abi and welcomed her and her young son into her now wider family.” A source said of the paternity test result: “Everyone prepared themselves for both scenarios, but it still came as an almighty shock when it came back as a positive match.”
Abi told of her joy at discovering her heritage, which has led to her developing a much better understanding of herself.
She said: “In discovering my father’s identity, I am starting to piece together my own. Of course, I am tickled pink and incredibly proud but, frequently, overwhelmed with sorrow for the years we have lost.
“After a measured start, now I hope we can consciously make time to see each other more often, so that I can master the art of being the best big sister and build a meaningful father-daughter relationship in its truest sense.”
Abi, from Brighton, and Sophie are now looking to spend more time together. The family have spent holidays together, with little Charlie and his grandfather bonding over electric board games in his workshop at their home in Ellesborough, Bucks. Sir David met Gill, a floor manager, on Yorkshire Television’s set of A Bit of a Do in 1989.
The pair fell for each other immediately in reception. Sir David has said: “She later told me that right there, she had felt an almost physical jolt and a voice in her head told her, ‘This man is going to affect your life.’”
In 2000, the couple decided to start a family, when he turned 60 and she was aged 40.
He wrote in his autobiography: “We were older than people conventionally are when they think about these things. The idea scared us a lot. We batted it back and forth.”
But “fate answered”, he said, and he became a father to Sophie despite thinking his chance had “swept by” while he had been busy with acting work.