David Jason backs bid to reopen S Yorks theatre

Still Open All Hours stars Sir David Jason, right, and James Baxter on set in Doncaster. Picture: Gary Moyes.
Still Open All Hours stars Sir David Jason, right, and James Baxter on set in Doncaster. Picture: Gary Moyes.

Comedy legend Sir David Jason has delivered a luvvly jubbly boost to the campaign to save Doncaster’s crumbling Grand Theatre.

The Only Fools and Horses and Open All Hours star has made a generous cash donation and written letters of support backing the campaign to reopen the Grade II listed building.

The theatre is sandwiched between the Frenchgate Centre and Doncaster transport interchange.

Members of the Friends of Grand Theatre campaign group approached him during filming of the Christmas special of Open All Hours in Doncaster last November.

They were amazed when they received a letter signed by Sir David, along with a cheque.

Spokesman Margaret Herbert said: “It was an absolutely amazing gesture and we are delighted with his support. It should give the campaign a huge boost.”

She declined to reveal the amount donated but described it as “a very generous”.

In his letter, Sir David wrote: “Please keep up the excellent work to make the very best of the Doncaster Grand Theatre.

“It has been saved from the bulldozers and now the emphasis should be on restoring this wonderful building into a place of entertainment and excellence.”

In a separate note he added: “It was good to be back up in Doncaster and I send my best wishes for a successful bid to keep this wonderful building for the purposes intended.”

Mrs Herbert approached him during filming in Lister Avenue, Balby, for the one-off Open All Hours special.

She said: “We took along a print of the Grand Theatre to present to him as a souvenir of his time in Doncaster and instantly he said ‘I’ve played there!’

“It must have been some time in the 1960s because that’s when he was starting to make a name for himself and before the theatre became a bingo hall.”

The group wants to re-open the Grand as a fully operational theatre but owners, property firm BTW Shiells, have refused to sell it.

The theatre has not been used for nearly two decades and is in a poor state of repair.

She said: “We will fight on to the death to see it open.”