Sir David Jason’s wife tells how the couple told their ‘only child’ Sophie, 22, that the Only Fools star had ANOTHER daughter – after they were shocked to find out he’d fathered a girl in 1970 during a brief fling with an actress
- Sir David fathered Abi Harris during a relationship with her mother Jennifer Hill
- He was unaware of their connection until he took a paternity test last year
Sir David Jason’s wife has revealed how the couple told their ‘only child’ Sophie that her father actually had another daughter who was 30 years older than her.
The Only Fools and Horses star had been left shocked to find he was the father to 52-year-old Abi Harris and grandfather to her 10-year-old son Charlie after having a brief fling with her mother in 1970.
After informing his current wife Gill Hinchcliffe about the bombshell, the couple then had the daunting task of informing 22-year-old Sophie, who had spent her whole life as their only child.
But the couple told the Mirror that after being confronted with the ‘massive surprise’ initially, Sophie had taken the revelation with ‘great understanding and maturity’.
The two families are now getting to know each other better and spent their first Christmas together last year – with pictures released showing Sir David meeting Abi after a paternity test proved he was her father.
Sir David Jason was left shocked to discover 52-year-old Abi Harris (pictured with him here) was his daughter
The actor had previously thought he only had one daughter, 22-year-old Sophie (pictured here with Sir David and his wife Gill Hinchcliffe)
Speaking to the Mirror, Ms Hinchcliffe 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.’
Actor David received a letter from Abi asking him to take the test last year, after her suspicions grew that he was her father.
Abi is the daughter of actress Jennifer Hill – who starred in the James Bond film Octopussy and alongside Sir David in a stage production of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood at the Mayfair Theatre in London.
It was during this production they had a brief relationship, during which he fathered Abi – although he was unaware of their connection even when he appeared in a revival performance of Under Milk Wood in 2008 with Abi and her mother.
Friends who saw the legendary actor and Abi standing next to each other remarked on their similar facial profiles, especially her nose, and as the years went past, she worked up the courage to find out the truth.
Pictured: Abi’s mother – Jennifer Hill – and David Jason (circled) stand with the cast of Under Milk Wood at London’s May Fair Theatre in 1970
The TV icon (left in The Darling Buds of May) found out Abi Harris (pictured right) was his daughter after taking a paternity test
Ms Harris had written to Sir David asking him to take a paternity test and he agreed to do so, with the results proving he was her father.
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He told the Mirror: ‘To say it was a surprise to find out I had a daughter from years ago is an understatement. I am delighted that I am now able to get to know Abi and so we meet up when we can.’
Until last year, Sir David had believed that he had become a father for the first time aged 61. But actually he was 30 when his first child was born.
Abi, now a casting director, had believed that her father was the actor Geoffrey Davion, who appeared in Miss Marple and The Stars Look Down and died in 1996.
Abi’s mother is 86 and lives in Brighton.
The news came as a shock to Sir David, as well as his wife Gill Hinchcliffe and daughter Sophie Mae, but the family say they have since welcomed Abi and Charlie with open arms.
Sir David married Lady Gill in 2005, four years after the birth of their child. Previously Sir David was in a long relationship with Myfanwy Talog, a Welsh actress who died from breast cancer in 1997.
Speaking to the Mirror, he said: ‘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.’
Since the surprise discovery was made, Abi and Charlie have been to visit Sir David and his family, and spent a period over Christmas with them at his home in Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire.
The Mirror reports that she wrote a letter to Sir David asking him to take a paternity test, beginning it with a line from the Thomas play, saying: ‘To begin at the beginning. Or to be more precise, my beginning…’
A source said the letter came as a shock to Sir David, but he was touched by the request and agreed to do it.
The insider said: ‘It’s a lovely letter, which David has kept.
‘It was light-hearted but serious, without being overwhelming. It was obvious whoever had written it was a nice person who just wanted to find out her heritage. The Dylan quote was the perfect way to start it.
‘It was a sympathetic way of saying, “Brace yourself”.’
Sir David had thought he became a father for the first time at the age of 61. Pictured: Sir David with his future wife Gill Hinchcliffe and their daughter Sophie in April 2001
Sir David had a brief relationship with actress Jennifer Hill (pictured here in Octopussy) in 1970,, during which he fathered Abi
The comedy legend (pictured here at the Royal Albert Hall in 2022) is now trying to make up for lost time with his newfound daughter and grandson
After the bombshell, the two families agreed to meet in London to figure out how to move forward from this life-changing news.
Abi said: ‘In discovering my father’s identity, I am starting to piece together my own.
READ MORE HERE: Sir David Jason reveals ‘seriously bad’ Covid battle that saw him collapse on the floor with paralysed arms and legs
‘Of course, I am tickled pink and incredibly proud but, frequently, completely 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 added: ‘We hope we are all allowed the privacy to continue our new relationship and get to know each other more and more.’
Sir David was knighted for his services to acting and comedy in 2005. He married Ms Hinchcliffe in November of that year.
He started dating Ms Hinchcliffe after his long-term partner of 20 years, Welsh actress Myfanwy Talog, died at 45 from breast cancer in 1995.
The TV star believed he became a father for the first time at the age of 61, and after Sophie was was born he said it had been ‘thrust upon him’ as most of his life was focused only on being a success.
He previously said: ‘My life has been in reverse. It wasn’t fame and it wasn’t money, but I always wanted to succeed. The only way I could do that was to try with every job to be better than I was in the last one, and to learn.
‘Because of that I needed to be footloose and fancy free.’
One of the nation’s best-loved TV stars, other roles have included starring as Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May alongside Catherine Zeta Jones, and as Granville in Open All Hours with Ronnie Barker.
He also provided the voice for Mr Toad in an adaptation of The Wind in the Willows.
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