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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ashleigh Rainbird

Sir David Jason's wife 'shock' at unknown daughter she has welcomed into family

Sir David Jason’s wife Lady Gill White has told of the family’s shock at discovering the actor had a 52-year-old daughter.

The Only Fools and Horses legend made the bombshell discovery that he was the father of actress Abi Harris, and has a 10-year-old grandson.

Sir David, 83, 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.

Gill heaped praise on Sophie for her maturity as they try to build up a relationship.

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 May Fair theatre in London.

Jennifer, who appeared in 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 with Sophie and Gill in London (Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

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.”

Sir David as Del Boy Trotter in Only Fools and Horses (BBC)

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.

David was born in Edmonton, North London, in 1940 to a ­Billingsgate market porter dad and a maid mum.

Though he initially trained as an electrician, he fell in love with the theatre and then branched into TV acting. In the 1980s, he starred ­alongside Ronnie Barker in Open All Hours, and went on to star as Derek “Del Boy” Trotter in classic comedy Only Fools and Horses.

At its peak it was watched by 18.8million viewers, and won six BAFTAs, Sir David receiving two for his portrayal of dodgy Del.

He also played Detective Jack Frost in A Touch of Frost. Sir David was knighted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in December 2005. He married Gill on the eve of his investiture ceremony in an intimate ceremony with just 50 guests at the Dorchester hotel in London.

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