He is the Head of the Parish Council in Dibley, and has also been a local councillor for the Conservative Party. David lives at Dibley Manor with his assets worth a monetary value of £5 million (in the spring of 2000). His relationship with the Vicar has changed from an initial refusal to cooperate to one of a great friendship.
David seems to have origins from a wealthy background (it is indicated that he inherited Dibley Manor by means of his son Hugo set to inherit his estate by means of passing it down). He was in private education where he was bullied by, amongst others, the future Bishop of Mulberry who "used to shave (David) with a blunt razor" (It is implied that is why David turned out to be bald in adult life). He took over as leader of the Parish Council after the predecessor, his father's cousin (also called David Horton) died. Since taking over, he has never missed a single meeting, even going to the length of holding a meeting in the maternity ward when his wife was giving birth to Hugo (where the naming of his son was put in 'Any Other Business'). David was married but his wife left him shortly after giving birth to Hugo. David was apparently a cruel father to Hugo, as Hugo states to Geraldine, he "shouted a lot, called me a cretin and caned me when I wet the bed". David seemed to relish his superiority over Hugo by winning "every game of tennis, every game of backgammon and every game of chess" as well as beating his guests at eating the most sprouts at Christmas (until Geraldine does so in 1996). He does however let his son partake in the Parish Council meetings despite rejections from the other members who described Hugo as "an absolute congenitalled idiot".
The First Season
At the time of Rev. Pottle's death, the Parish council that David presided over consisted of himself, his son Hugo, Frank Pickle who would jot down the minutes, Jim Trott, Letitia Cropley and Owen Newitt who would frequently be late due to various incidents at his farm. The meetings prior to the Vicar's arrival were considerably shorter with the members "doing whatever you (David) said". There was also a tendency for David to reject planning permission for everyone other than his or Hugo's benefit (for instance rejecting the building of a new barn for the Herberts but allowing his son the building of a conservatory "for his South American flower collection" (pool table)). David is the first person to greet the Vicar and his initial reaction of amusement towards a female Vicar quickly turns to horror. He tries to get the bishop to reconsider the appointment humourously stating to Hugo that "if Jesus wanted women to spread the gospel he would've appointed them. It's Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, not Sharon, Tracy, Tara and Debbie!" He organises an emergency council meeting to confirm the removal of Geraldine but is prevented from doing so by the others who realise they haven't voted on the matter and decide upon giving the Vicar a chance.
In 'Songs of Praise', David is reluctant to allow Songs of Praise to film in the village claiming "the BBC don't care about religion". His opinion changes when he meets Ruth, the camerawoman and develops feelings for her. After the service, she writes down her phone number for David which turns out to be the same number as given to Geraldine by Tristan Campbell, the director.
In 'Community Spirit', infuriated at Geraldine for dismissing the low amount raised at the previous fete and for inadvertently ridiculing him in the process, David entrusts the fundraising ideas to the Vicar, with the intention of setting her up for a colossal failure. When it appears that Alice's cousin is Elton John (referred to as Reg Dwight), David could be forced to eat a slice of humble pie. That is, until it is revealed that he really is called Reg Dwight as opposed to his more famous namesake. David delights in taunting Geraldine but his pleasure turns into disbelief when at the fete, Geraldine introduces Kylie Minogue who had turned up hearing Elton John was performing and wanted to surprise him.
In 'The Window and the Weather', the church's window is smashed open by a fallen tree during a storm. At the council meeting, after some deliberation as to what the window depicted and eventually finding out it depicted Noah's Ark, David is able to estimate the cost for replacement at £11,000. Geraldine takes it upon herself to find people to donate and is able to successfully acquire money from David's friend, Daniel Frobisher. Rather than install the previous design, she opts for a plain glass costing £500 with the rest going to charity, a decision which David agrees with.
In 'Election', David is looking to retain his seat as the local MP with there being only one obstacle in his way-Geraldine! She objects to his continuous twinning expeditions considering that Dibley hasn't been twinned to any town and the building of a rarely used golf course at the expense of a bus service through the village and funding for the Women's Institute. After appearing on the radio to discuss her views, the villagers decide they want to vote for the vicar in the upcoming election, Fortunately, for David, she doesn't want to stand for Parliament. Unfortunately, her popularity could swing the election either way. By agreeing to accompany her and promising to meet all the villagers' requests, David wins in a landslide. At the next council meeting, however, David reneges on his promises which bites him in the backside when the villagers destroy the golf course by "playing" on it, forcing him to concede.
In 'Animals', the Vicar's proposition about an animal service is the final straw for David who delivers the ultimatum that if the service fails, Geraldine will be removed from her post. The service turns out to be a rousing success with people coming from afar, leaving David to rescind his threat with newfound admiration for the Vicar.
In 'The Easter Bunny', David is asked as part of Lent to act kinder towards his fellow council members and to be more generous. He uses this to mock Geraldine, who has given up chocolate, by offering chocolates out to his fellow parishioners. Later, after the death of Letitia Cropley, David dresses up as the Easter Bunny to fulfill her last dying wish but runs into Geraldine who is also dressed as the bunny. They agree to keep it a secret from the fellow villagers only to discover that everyone has dressed up as the Easter Bunny. David, being especially unamused quips that "If I find out she's still here, I'll kill her".
In 'The Christmas Lunch Incident', David has grown a beard to try and attract the ladies (with seemingly little success) He asks the Vicar if he can put behind all his discrepancies with her by inviting her to Christmas Lunch. Geraldine, having already been invited to Jim and Frank's prior, is hesitant but reluctantly agrees, with it turning out to be the second of four lunches she'd have that day. During the lunch, a challenge is held between David and the Vicar as to who can eat the most Brussel Sprouts with Geraldine winning four to three. He turns up later to the Vicarage with the others to congratulate the Vicar for her services.
The Second Season
In 'Engagement', following a conversation with himself and the television, David is horrified to discover that Hugo is committed to being with Alice. Hugo states, in polite terms to the Vicar that "if he ducking kissed her again, he'd make sure I was well and truly ducked." Later, David invites the Vicar round to discuss replacement women for Hugo including the Vicar herself! When Hugo enters, David informs him that if he continues his relationship with "that Tinker twerp", he'll be written out of his (David's) will. Hugo responds with "I will have everything in the world I desire" much to the delight of Geraldine.
In 'Dibley Live', David's disparaging comments about Alice such as "believing her only use in life is as an organ donor" make her determined to challenge the 27-time and reigning village quiz champion to prove she's not as stupid as he makes her out to be. After admitting his haemorrhoid condition on the radio and pretending to be Rory Bremner to distract the villagers he'd just insulted, David states the family motto "I came, I saw, I tore the thick bastards limb from limb" when the Vicar asks that he goes easy on Alice. This makes Geraldine rig the questioning in order for Alice to win 245 to 0. The Vicar then forces David, on air live, to congratulate Alice for her victory.
In 'Celebrity Vicar', David is the only parishioner to be skeptical of Geraldine's rise to stardom. Following appearances on the radio and on television, the tabloids come to Dibley with negative news articles being written about the various members of the council (such as Owen's headline being "Britain's B.O. King"). David states the opinion that everyone felt betrayed by the Vicar's lack of integrity. During the Valentine's Day Gala Night, the Vicar performs an act entitled "The Mirror" with Darcey Bussell which enables her to be forgiven by David and the other members of the council.
In 'Love and Marriage', David is successfully able to name the new road in the village 'David Horton Road' claiming it's in memory is for his predecessor on the council, his father's cousin also called David Horton, much to Geraldine's consternation. His doubts about the wedding persist when he sees Alice's design for the dress which includes, among other things, an otter and an image of Bobby Moore receiving the World Cup made out of wool and linoleum. Later, he introduces Geraldine to his younger brother Simon whom the Vicar falls head over heels for. The wedding appears to be in jeopardy when the vicar hears how Alice's father is Mr Horton, implying that she and Hugo are siblings but it turns out to be the other David Horton. When the Vicar announces her leaving the village, David admits his initial resentment of having a female vicar has ceased and he asks her to stay. At the end of the episode, the Vicar tells David the joke, as Alice is on her honeymoon, with David finding the joke humorous whilst the Vicar, out of force of habit, tries to explain the joke.
In 'Autumn', David's argument with Owen necessitates an agreement for them to get along better by the Vicar. His younger brother has returned to the village to rekindle his relationship with the Vicar which leaves David worried. His worries prove valid when Simon admits to Geraldine that there is someone else and the parish council feels the Vicar's wrath including David whom she calls 'egghead'. Following two missed services, David and the others help convince the Vicar to return which the sign 'That tall git Simon may have bonked you and dumped you like an old jock strap - but we still love you.'
In 'Winter', David is dismayed that he gets cast as King Herod in the nativity. He believes that Herod should be shown to have a kinder side but his alterations to the script are rejected by Geraldine. Nonetheless, he proceeds to hand out sweets to the children during the performance prompting one girl to say "I love you Herod". Later, when Alice goes into labour, he helps Geraldine deal with the pain involved with Alice's contractions before witnessing the birth of his first grandchild. He is present when Alice and Hugo name their daughter Geraldine which he comments is an "excellent choice".