Jason Watkins in The Catch and McDonald & Dodds

Jason Watkins stars in Channel 5’s drama The Catch

Jason won a BAFTA for his role as Christopher Jefferies, and his character got carved up in Line of Duty...

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Jason Watkins leads the cast of The Catch on Channel 5, and it’s the sort of solid drama we can expect from the BAFTA-winning actor.

More recently, he’s perhaps best known as DS Dodds in ITV1 drama McDonald & Dodds.

But he’s had a very impressive career spanning more than three decades.

Tragically, the actor has also experienced real-life heartbreak off-screen.

Here’s everything you need to know about Jason Watkins, including who he’s married to, what he’s been in, and how his young daughter died.

Jason Watkins as DS Dodds and Tala Gouveia as DCI Lauren McDonald in McDonald & Dodds (Credit: ITV1)
Jason Watkins as DS Dodds and Tala Gouveia as DCI Lauren McDonald in McDonald & Dodds (Credit: ITV1)

Who plays Ed Collier in The Catch?

The quietly brilliant Jason Watkins plays Ed Collier in The Catch on Channel 5.

The four-part thriller centres around the character of loving dad Ed, who becomes increasingly alarmed by his daughter’s new boyfriend.

Ed is convinced Ryan isn’t who he says he is.

But has Ed got it all wrong?

It’s a slightly different role for Jason, who often plays mild-mannered, sometimes peculiar characters (no offence, Jase!).

As usual, Jason is fantastic in the role.

Who plays DS Dodds in McDonald & Dodds?

Jason Watkins portrays DS Dodds in McDonald & Dodds.

He is described as the “humble and quietly brilliant DS Dodds” who appears opposite Tala Gouveia’s “ambitious and feisty” DCI McDonald.

Jason says: “I love playing Dodds, and I really hope to continue to play him for more series.

“Robert Murphy, the creator, has really created a wonderful character.

“You could say he is a bit like Columbo, but there is also a bit of Poirot in there too.

“Dodds has a gentleness to him, a naivety, but in many ways that is his strength.

“He is able to use his perceived innocence to get information out of whoever he is with and use it to his advantage.”

McDonald & Dodds returns for a second series, but what is DS Dodds' first name? (Credit: ITV1)
McDonald & Dodds will return in 2023, but what is DS Dodds’ first name? (Credit: ITV1)

What is DS Dodds’ first name?

Creator Robert Murphy has revealed we may never learn the first name of DS Dodds.

Ahead of the second series start, he said: “I might reveal Dodds’ first name in the very last episode, if it ever comes up!

“The truth is, I don’t actually know what his first name is.

“I just decided not to give him a first name as I like a bit of mystery around him.

“I like keeping some things back so that the more you have to imagine about him, the more intriguing he becomes.”

Robert also reveals the real reason the viewer never sees McDonald and Dodds’ private lives.

He says: “That’s just my preference to stay out in the field with them.

“For it to be interesting when they go home, it has to be dysfunctional, and then it goes into that whole tortured detective vein.

“The thing with McDonald and Dodds is that there is no big traumatic backstory for either of them, they’re actually quite happy.”

What else has Jason Watkins starred in?

Perhaps the question should be: What hasn’t Jason starred in?

He’s appeared on TV in both dramatic and comedy roles – think Line of Duty‘s Tim Ifield, and Simon Harwood in W1A – as well as on stage.

Jason has been on our TV’s ever since 1987 when he joined the cast of EastEnders as Gerry!

He’s gone on to star in dozens of popular shows, including Five Days, Life on Mars, Lewis and Hotel Babylon.

In 2008, he played Plornish in the BBC One adaptation of Little Dorrit, and Constable Arthur ‘Cabbage’ Patterson in Lark Rise to Candleford.

He’s portrayed plenty of comedic roles including Peter Bishop in Psychoville, Dick Twist in Miranda, and Gavin in Trollied.

Jason won a deserved BAFTA for his role in 2014 mini-series The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies.

The actor played British PM Harold Wilson in The Crown in 2019, Roger in Hold the Sunset and Brian Masters in Des.

More recently, he played

In 2023, as well as playing Ed Collier in The Catch, Jason will play

Jason Watkins in The Trick on BBC One
Jason Watkins and Victoria Hamilton starred in The Trick (Credit: BBC One)

How old is Jason Watkins? Where is he from?

Jason Peter Watkins was born on October 28, 1966, in Albrighton, Shropshire.

He is currently 60 years of age.

Jason lived in Shropshire until the age of seven, when his parents moved to Wolverhampton.

Who is Jason Watkins’ wife?

Jason is married to jewellery and fashion designer Clara Francis.

She’s dabbled in acting, too, and has appeared in the TV movies Fooling Hitler, and In Your Dreams.

They met when Clara was 19 and Jason was 24.

Jason was doing a play at the Young Vic, and Clara was his dresser.

Jason was with Caroline Harding at the time, who he later went on to marry and have children with.

He says: “I thought I should be with Caroline properly. We had our first son, Freddie, got married, then our second son, Pip, came along.

“Caroline and I were together happily for 12 years and then we separated.

“Afterwards, I was rather pathetically lost and Clara rescued me.”

Jason has two sons, Freddie and Pip, from his first marriage to actress Caroline Harding.

Jason Watkins and wife Clara Francis on red carpet
The Catch star Jason Watkins and his wife Clara Francis arriving at the Pride of Britain Awards 2019 in London (Credit: Brett D. Cove/SplashNews.com)

Does The Catch star Jason Watkins have children?

After getting together with Clara, Jason moved into her flat in Kentish Town.

Their daughters, Bessie and Maude, came along in 2007 and 2008, by which time they were living in a house in Camden.

Jason and Clara have three children together – Bessie, Maude, and Gilbert.

Did Jason Watkins lose a child?

Devastatingly, their daughter Maude died of sepsis when she was just two.

Around Christmas 2010, Maude got a cold and flu but her symptoms became extreme.

The hospital discharged her after diagnosing croup.

Tragically, Jason and Clara found her dead on New Year’s morning 2011.

They went on to have a son called Gilbert.

Jason dedicated his 2015 BAFTA award to Maude and campaigns for greater awareness of sepsis.

He is also a patron of Child Bereavement UK, a charity that supports children, young people and families when a child grieves or when a child dies.

Jason says that telling Maude’s sister Bessie the truth was the hardest thing.

He said: “Telling a child ‘your sister is not coming back’ is difficult.

“That was the most difficult thing. Explaining to her what had happened.

“I think she knew because she was there, that was the shocking thing, the traumatic thing for her.

“You can use euphemisms of heaven and those sort of things. Whatever helps for you is the way to do it.”

Bessie was just a couple of years older than Maude when her sister died.

Gilbert was born after Maude’s death.

Aneurin Barnard in the cast of The Catch
The Catch cast: Jason Watkins as Ed, Aneurin Barnard as Ryan, and Poppy Gilbert as Abbie (Credit: Channel 5)

Jason used real life grief to play Ed Collier in The Catch

Appearing on The One Show recently, Jason revealed he harnased his own grief to play Ed in The Catch.

He said: “We, as a family, lost a child as well, so I understand very much the character Ed’s feelings.

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to take the role on because it’s so well mapped out in the series.

“It’s a painful journey, but you feel as though you have something to share and be able, through a drama, to illuminate what it’s like to be in this difficult place.”

He added: “As anyone who’s lost a child would say, you don’t want to be a victim, you want to make the loss of your child useful to somebody and that they count.”

Who was Nativity 2 dedicated to?

The film Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! is dedicated to Maude Watkins.

The tribute read: “To the brightest star in the sky.”

Dad Jason portrayed Gordon Shakespeare in the 2012 movie opposite David Tennant.

Jason also dedicated his BAFTA award to his beloved daughter.

He said while collecting the award in 2015: “There is one person that I am going to dedicate this to and along with my family…

“I’m going to share this with our daughter who we lost just a few days funnily enough after Joanna Yeates’ death.

“If there is a reason why I’m standing here it is because of our Maudie, so thank you.”

Of course, Joanna Yeates was the young woman who Christopher Jeffries was wrongly accused of murdering.

Read more: The Catch: Jason Watkins fans rally as he shares irate tweet – ‘I was a victim of crime’

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The Catch starts on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at 9pm on Channel 5 and My5.

Are you a fan of Jason Watkins? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor