Jay Blades says Sir David Jason is ‘perfect’ and collaborating on their new show was like ‘working with a teenager’

Jay Blade and Sir David Jason McCarthy Holden news item

Before the interview has even got fully under way, Sir David Jason is taking swipes at Jay Blades.

It is soon evident that this is the pair’s modus operandi. In fact, it becomes rather difficult to get an answer from either of them without the other butting in with a quip or alternative version of events.

Their zinging rapport is part of why the new BBC Two series, David And Jay’s Touring Toolshed, is such a joy. And beneath the veneer of friendly snark, their respect and esteem for one another is palpable.

Case in point: Blades is late to the Zoom call. Asked what his favourite moment from the series was – meeting the crafters, touring the country perhaps? – Sir David responds, “Well, I was going to say it was working with Jay. But now he’s not joining us, I can tell you the truth, that no way was he my favourite person. You can make what you like out of that.”

Jay Blade and Sir David Jason McCarthy Holden news item
Jay Blades and Sir David Jason

“Seriously though,” the veteran comic actor, 83, best known for his long stint in Only Fools And Horses, continues, “it was great working with Jay. He’s a super character. Lovely fella. Very, very easy to work with. He’s the sort of person where what you see is what you get.”

Blades appears on screen in a burst of laughter. “You’re not wanted now,” Sir David quips immediately.

“You thought you could get away without me being there, hey?” responds Blades. “David, you rein it in now. You behave yourself. It’s not the David show like you wanted it to be. They didn’t edit me out. I’m in there.”

Touring Toolshed sees Sir David and Blades take to the road, travelling the length of the UK to lend a hand to crafters and makers, both amateur and professional, and learn about their passions and projects. Donning matching blue caps, they visit craft shows, country fairs, steam rallies and engineering fairs. The toolshed – a trailer-come-shed equipped with a plethora of tools – pulls up and Sir David, Blades and various experts help individuals solve tricky challenges.

Jay Blade and Sir David Jason McCarthy Holden news item
David and Jay's Touring Toolshed

On working with the comedian for the first time, Blades, 53, calls him “a national icon”.

“It was a real joy working with someone I grew up with,” he continues. “And then you’re working with someone who is perfect in every single way. You’ve got to think, the age this young man is, we’d have done a full day’s filming – 14 hours, let’s say – and we go back to the hotel and have dinner and he’s talking about what we can do tomorrow. It was as if I was working with a teenager.”

Both Sir David and Blades are makers themselves. Blades is a long-time furniture restorer, author and presenter of shows including The Repair Shop and Jay Blades’ Home Fix. Sir David has a long-held passion for inventing and fixing things. Where did that originate?

“I have the ability,” the Del Boy star says, “because going back into history, when I first started work I was an apprentice electrician. When you are an apprentice to any trade, you have to absorb all sorts of traits – you’re bumping into people who are bricklayers, plasterers, pipe benders, plumbers. And if you’re interested in making things, it leaves its mark. You get interested in how a plumber bends a piece of pipe, and that sort of thing is still with me, I still love bending pipes. Well, now the pipe I bend is round Jay’s neck but…”

“Well, don’t tell them about that,” retorts Blades. “But Sir David still makes, and I still make. And what I love about making is the future aspect of it – you never just make something and that’s it. You’re always seeing the next step. Where can I take this? How can I move it forward?

Jay Blade and Sir David Jason McCarthy Holden news item
Ladies of Soy Quine Rowing Club with Jay Blades and Sir David Jason

“We had a load of different makers come along and the beauty for me is upskilling, so a lot of the people did have a stumbling block and we teamed them up with an expert who would help them right now with the problem at hand, but also in the future, so when they go off and make something else, they’ll have the ability to do it.

“So there’s a lady on there who made these beautiful puppets, but she didn’t know how to make them move. We had an expert show her how to organise the motor and put the strings in the right place – so when she builds another puppet, she can apply those skills straight away.”

A project that particularly impressed the pair involved upcycling aircraft windows.

“We met a couple of chaps who worked on an airfield,” Sir David explains, “and in the corner of the airfield was a broken-down aeroplane that had been there for months and months and was just rotting away. So the pair of them started to take it apart, recycle and polish the windows, and sell them – and they were going like hotcakes.

“And it was brilliant to see how they were making something out of nothing – that was quite an eye-opener, wasn’t it?”


Jay Blade and Sir David Jason McCarthy Holden news item
Ja Blades and Sir David Jason with Gordon Talbot

“They were making rubbish attractive and desirable!” exclaims Blades. The idea has since flourished into a fully fledged small business turning the portholes into mirrors and mosaic tables.

“You’d never believe that something that was rotting in a field could be turned into such a desirable item,” Blades continues. “That’s the beauty of what we found on the show. There were so many people with brilliant ideas.”

Do they hope the show will inspire viewers to start making and tinkering themselves?

“I don’t use the word hope,” says Blades. “I know it’s going to, plain and simple. This show, you’ve got a legend such as Sir David, and someone who knows about making and is as enthusiastic about it as me, and that enthusiasm comes over on screen and people will be inspired to continue making, tinkering and pushing it forward.”


Jay Blade and Sir David Jason McCarthy Holden news item
Sam Beresford and Sir David Jason

“I’m sure he’s right,” says Sir David, followed by a brief parley between the pair about the shock of finding themselves in agreement about something. “We will inspire people to invent, create, perhaps see something that nobody else has seen. So we’re hoping that what we’re going to achieve is for people to be inspired and get off their…”

Blades, chuckling, adds: “Seats.”

David And Jay’s Touring Toolshed started on BBC Two on Monday January 22.

John Joe Photography
Jay Blade and Sir David Jason McCarthy Holden news item
Before the interview has even got fully under way, Sir David Jason is taking swipes at Jay Blades. It…
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