A RISING acting star from Wearside will gather round the television with his family tonight to watch his “biggest role yet”.
Actor James Baxter, 23, of Barnes, will star as Sir David Jason’s son in the new BBC1 episode of classic comedy Open All Hours.
The show, which revisits Arkwright’s village store for the first time since 1985, sees Sir David’s character Granville running the shop, assisted by his son Leroy, played by James.
The former Farringdon Community Sports College student hopes audiences will enjoy the Christmas special, called Still Open All Hours.
He said: “Everyone is going to be comparing it to the old series, which is completely natural and fine.
“But it has been updated and it is a new programme, so I would say just take it as it is.
“Hopefully it is a programme that can be enjoyed by five-year-olds and 95-year-olds.”
The actor, whose family live in Ashbrooke, said working alongside one of the nation’s favourite stars was a dream.
He added: “He is someone you can never stop learning from.
“He doesn’t preach, but from watching him I took advice – he’s like a never-ending book of knowledge.”
James added that the programme, which will see Granville inherit the shop from his miserly uncle Albert Arkwright – who was played by the late Ronnie Barker – is one of his favourite roles to date.
James said: “It’s definitely the biggest thing that I have done, and I enjoyed the whole process. I enjoyed filming in front of the live audience. I would like to do more of that.”
He said rumours of the show returning for a full series were just that.
The former Emmerdale star said: “I would give my arm and leg to do more and David would like to do it.
“There have been rumours, so there’s hope.”
The new episode will also feature Lynda Baron, returning as nurse Gladys Emmanuel, Stephanie Cole, Delphine Featherstone and Maggie Ollerenshaw as Granville’s former flame Mavis.
James now lives in London with wife Dominique, but has returned to Wearside to watch the programme with his family – mum Beverley, dad Martin, and sister Laura.
He said: “I always get nervous to see their reaction when they watch me.
“And I hate watching myself because I’m too critical – I want the sofa to swallow me up – but I’m getting more used to it now.
“But from what I’ve seen of it, I’m happy with how it’s turned out.
“The audience reaction was good when we were filming, so I just hope everyone enjoys it.”
l Still Open All Hours will air on BBC1 at 7.45pm tonight.