80s Highlights- Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses is a British sitcom created and written by John Sullivan. Seven series were originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom from 1981 to 1991, with sixteen sporadic Christmas specials aired until the end of the show in 2003. Episodes are regularly repeated on UKTV comedy channel Gold and occasionally repeated on Yesterday and BBC One.

Set in Peckham in south-east London, it stars David Jason as ambitious market trader Derek “Del Boy” TrotterNicholas Lyndhurst as his younger brother Rodney Trotter, and Lennard Pearce as their elderly Grandad. After Pearce’s death in 1984, his character was replaced by Del and Rodney’s Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield) who first appeared in February 1985. Backed by a strong supporting cast, the series follows the Trotters’ highs and lows in life, in particular their attempts to get rich.

The show achieved consistently high ratings, and the 1996 episode “Time on Our Hands” (the last episode to feature Uncle Albert) holds the record for the highest UK audience for a sitcom episode, attracting over 24.3 million viewers. Critically and popularly acclaimed, the series received numerous awards, including recognition from BAFTA, the National Television Awards and the Royal Television Society, as well as winning individual accolades for both Sullivan and Jason. It was voted Britain’s Best Sitcom in a 2004 BBC poll. The series influenced British culture, contributing several words and phrases to the English language. It spawned an extensive range of merchandise, including books, videos, DVDs, toys, and board games.

A spin-off series, The Green Green Grass, ran for four series in the UK from 2005 to 2009. A prequel, Rock & Chips, ran for three specials in 2010 and 2011. A special Sport Relief episode aired in March 2014, guest starring David Beckham. In July 2018, John Sullivan’s son, Jim Sullivan, announced that an Only Fools and Horses musical was nearing completion and launched on 9 February 2019 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London.

Derek “Del Boy” Trotter (played by David Jason), a fast-talking, archetypal South London ‘fly’ trader, lives in a council flat in a high-rise tower block, Nelson Mandela House, in PeckhamSouth London, with his much younger brother, Rodney Trotter (Nicholas Lyndhurst), and their elderly grandad (Lennard Pearce). Their mother, Joan, died when Rodney was young, and their father Reg absconded soon afterwards, so Del became Rodney’s surrogate father and the family patriarch. Despite the difference in age, personality and outlook, the brothers share a constant bond throughout.

The situation focuses mainly on their attempts to become millionaires through questionable get rich quick schemes and by buying and selling poor-quality and illegal goods. They have a three-wheeled Reliant Regal van and trade under the name of Trotters Independent Traders, mainly on the black market.

Initially, Del Boy, Rodney and Grandad were the only regulars, along with the occasional appearances of roadsweeper Trigger (Roger Lloyd-Pack) and pretentious used car salesman Boycie (John Challis). Over time, the cast expanded, mostly in the form of regulars at the local pub The Nag’s Head. These included pub landlord Mike Fisher (Kenneth MacDonald), lorry driver Denzil (Paul Barber), youthful spiv Mickey Pearce (Patrick Murray) and Boycie’s flirtatious wife Marlene (Sue Holderness).

As the series progressed, the scope of the plots expanded. Many early episodes were largely self-contained, with few plot-lines mentioned again, but the show developed a story arcand an ongoing episodic dimension. After Grandad died following the death of actor Lennard Pearce, his younger brother Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield) emerged and moved in with Del and Rodney.[2] After years of searching, both Del and Rodney find long-term love, in the form of Raquel (Tessa Peake-Jones) and Cassandra (Gwyneth Strong) respectively; Del also has a son with Raquel, Damien (played by five actors, most recently Ben Smith). Rodney and Cassandra marry, separate and then get back together again. Cassandra miscarries, but then she and Rodney eventually have a baby. Rodney finds out who his real father was. The Trotters finally become millionaires, lose their fortune, and then regain some of it.

Main cast and characters

  • Derek Edward “Del Boy” Trotter (David Jason) — Del is a charismatic South London market trader, willing to sell anything to anyone to make money. Possessing a quick wit and a devious cunning that his younger brother mostly lacks, Del is devoted to his family, taking care of Rodney and Grandad on his own from the age of 16. Del is also known for his penchant for cultural faux pas, in particular his misuse of French phrases. Del never settled down with a woman until he met Raquel, with whom he had a son, Damien.
Sullivan recalled that he had always been fascinated by the unlicensed traders who sold goods from suitcases in markets, and he based Del Boy on them. David Jason added other elements to the part, including Del’s cheap gold jewellery and his camel-hair coat. The inspiration was taken from a similar man he had known when working as an electrician. Jason was a relatively late candidate for the part: Jim Broadbent (who would later appear in a minor recurring role as DCI Roy Slater) and Enn Reitel were earlier preferences. Broadbent turned down the role, as the play he was acting in had moved. It was only when producer Ray Butt saw a repeat of Open All Hours that Jason was considered and, despite concerns that Jason had not previously had a leading television role, and that he and Lyndhurst did not look like brothers, he was cast.
  • Rodney Charlton Trotter (Nicholas Lyndhurst) — Rodney is Del’s idealistic but dependent younger brother. Despite being more academically gifted than Del Boy (although only to the extent of two GCEs), Rodney lacks Del’s silver tongue as well as the latter’s scheming nature and as such is confined to being Del’s lackey and sidekick. Orphaned when young, Rodney was raised by Del, and much of the conflict between the two comes from Rodney’s dislike of his reliance on his brother and his sometimes morally ambiguous schemes, usually resulting in unsuccessful attempts to gain greater independence through girlfriends or through setting up his own businesses; he was only partially successful after marrying Cassandra and briefly going to work for her father. In contrast to Del, the part of Rodney was cast early, with Lyndhurst settled on quickly. Sullivan partly based Rodney on his own experiences: he, too, had a much older sibling and, like Rodney, claims to have been a dreamer and an idealist in his youth.
  • Grandad (Lennard Pearce) — Del and Rodney’s elderly grandad was added to the cast to balance the three distinct generations, adding the voice of experience to the situation. In casting the role of Grandad, Sullivan had in mind an actor similar to Wilfrid Brambell, who had played Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son, but chose not to use Brambell himself, thinking him too closely associated with Steptoe. After seeing Pearce’s audition, Sullivan chose him immediately. Scruffy and daft, although sometimes displaying a razor-sharp wit, Grandad rarely left the flat or even moved from his armchair in front of two television sets. Despite his age he was invariably treated as a dogsbody by Del and Rodney, often being assigned mundane jobs around the flat such as cooking meals. Pearce died in 1984 whilst filming the series four episode “Hole in One” (several scenes were subsequently re-shot with Buster Merryfield) and Sullivan wrote a new episode, “Strained Relations“, which featured Grandad’s funeral.
  • Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield) — Shortly after the death of Lennard Pearce, it was decided that a new older family member should be brought in, which eventually led to “Uncle Albert”, Grandad’s long-lost younger brother. Merryfield was an inexperienced amateur actor at the time, but was selected because he appeared to fit the description of an old sailor, especially with his distinctive white “Captain Birdseye” beard. Albert first appeared at Grandad’s funeral, and soon moved in with Del and Rodney. His wartime experiences with the Royal Navy became one of the show’s running gags, usually beginning with the words “During the war…”. Merryfield died in 1999 and Albert’s death was written into the next episode.
  • Raquel Turner (Tessa Peake-Jones) — Raquel was introduced because Sullivan wanted more female characters and for Del to start meeting more mature women. Her first appearance, in “Dates“, was intended to be a one-off, but she was written in again a year later and thereafter became a permanent cast member. An ambitious trained singer and actress whose career never took off, she met Del through a dating agency, but they fell out over her part-time job as a stripper, before getting together again. This time she moved in with Del, helping to mellow him, and they had a son together, named Damien. As the character unfolded, it was revealed that she was previously married to Del’s nemesis, DCI Roy Slater.
  • Cassandra Trotter (Gwyneth Strong) — Cassandra first met Rodney in “Yuppy Love“. Their relationship blossomed, and by the end of series six the two had married. But her high career ambitions caused conflict with Rodney, and their troubled marriage was one of the main storylines later in the show’s run.

Supporting cast and characters

  • Trigger (Roger Lloyd-Pack) — A gormless and dim-witted but close friend of Del, Trigger was initially portrayed as a small-time thief, supplying Del with dubious goods. In later episodes he came to adopt the ‘village idiot’ role, and constantly calls Rodney “Dave”, much to Rodney’s bemusement. Trigger, apparently so called because he looks like a horse, was the principal supporting character earlier in the show’s run, although his importance lessened as the series progressed. Lloyd Pack was cast by pure chance: Ray Butt, who hired him to portray Trigger after seeing him in a stage play, had only attended that play to observe potential Del Boy actor Billy Murray.
  • Boycie (John Challis) — A shady used car salesman and a frightful snob. Boycie, a freemason, was very self-centred and prone to boasting about his high social status. Challis had played a similar character in an episode of Citizen Smith. Sullivan liked him, and promised to cast him in a future series, which led to Boycie. Boycie later featured in a spin-off series, The Green Green Grass, starting in 2005, in which he and his wife Marlene fled from a criminal gang.
  • Marlene Boyce (Sue Holderness— Marlene was initially just an unseen character, occasionally mentioned by her husband, Boycie. She was a cheerful woman who desired a child. Details were occasionally revealed about Marlene’s prior reputation as being popular with the local men. She did finally have a son, Tyler.
  • Denzil Tulser (Paul Barber) — An easy-going Liverpudlian lorry driver, Denzil was often on the receiving end of Del’s scams. His inability to say no to Del’s business deals frequently led to conflict with his domineering wife, Corrine (Eva Mottley), who was only sighted once, in “Who’s a Pretty Boy?“. Sullivan had planned to bring Corrine back for more episodes, but after Mottley’s death in 1985, he opted to make her an unseen character rather than use another actress.
  • Mickey Pearce (Patrick Murray) — Mickey was a young, obnoxious spiv and friend of Rodney’s, known for his exaggerated boasts about his success in business or with women. Despite their friendship, Mickey often took advantage of Rodney’s gullibility by stealing his girlfriends or making off with all the money from their business partnership.
  • Mike Fisher (Kenneth MacDonald) — The landlord of the Nag’s Head, although not from the very beginning; his predecessor was never seen, with just a succession of barmaids providing service. Good natured and somewhat gullible, he was often targeted by Del as a potential customer for any goods he was selling. When Kenneth MacDonald died in 2001, a storyline involving Mike’s imprisonment for attempting to embezzle the brewery was written, and cafe owner Sid took over as the interim pub landlord.
  • Damien Trotter (various) — Damien was Del and Raquel’s son. It was Rodney’s mocking suggestion that he be named Damien. Six actors played Damien: Patrick McManus (1991), Grant Stevens (1991), Robert Liddement (1992), Jamie Smith (1993–96), Douglas Hodge (1996, as adult), and Ben Smith (2001–03).
  • Sid (Roy Heather) — Sid made sporadic appearances throughout the show’s run, mainly as the proprietor of the run-down and unhygienic local cafe. In the episode “The Jolly Boys’ Outing”, it is revealed that Sid fought in the Second World War. He was captured and imprisoned but escaped, only for the boat he was using to be hit and sunk by a Greek fishing trawler being steered by Uncle Albert. After Nag’s Head landlord Mike was imprisoned, Sid took over and kept that role for the remainder of the series.

The most frequent roles for guest actors in Only Fools and Horses were as Del or Rodney’s once-seen girlfriends, barmaids at the Nag’s Head, or individuals the Trotters were doing business with. Del and Rodney’s deceased mother, Joan, though never seen, cropped up in Del’s embellished accounts of her final words or in his attempts to emotionally blackmail Rodney. Her grave – a flamboyant monument – was seen occasionally. Their absent father, Reg, appeared once in “Thicker Than Water” (played by Peter Woodthorpe), before leaving under a cloud, never to be seen again. Other members of the Trotter family were rarely sighted, the exceptions being cousins Stan (Mike Kemp) and Jean (Maureen Sweeney), who attended Grandad’s funeral. In “The Second Time Around“, the woman they believed to be Auntie Rose (Beryl Cooke) turned out to be no relation at all but the woman who’d moved into Rose’s house some years earlier. After Rodney met Cassandra, her parents Alan (Denis Lill) and Pam (Wanda Ventham) became recurring characters. Raquel’s parents, James and Audrey (Michael Jaystonand Ann Lynn), appeared in “Time On Our Hands“, and it was James who discovered the antique watch which made the Trotters millionaires.

In some episodes, a guest character was essential to the plot. Del’s ex-fiancée Pauline (Jill Baker) dominated Del’s libido in “The Second Time Around“, prompting Rodney and Grandad to leave. In “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire“, Del’s old business partner Jumbo Mills (Nick Stringer) wanted Del to return to Australia with him and restore their partnership, forcing Del to make a decision. An attempt by Lennox (Vas Blackwood) to rob a local supermarket set-up the “hostage” situation in “The Longest Night“. Del and Rodney spent the whole of “Tea for Three” battling each other for the affections of Trigger’s niece Lisa (Gerry Cowper). Abdul (Tony Anholt) in “To Hull and Back” and Arnie (Philip McGough) in “Chain Gang” were responsible for setting up dubious enterprises involving the Trotters in their respective episodes. Tony Angelino (Philip Pope), the singing dustman with a speech impediment, was the key to the humour and the storyline of “Stage Fright” and EastEnders actor Derek Martin guest starred in Fatal Extraction.

Del’s nemesis from his school days, corrupt policeman DCI Roy Slater (played by Jim Broadbent), made three appearances, in “May The Force Be With You“, “To Hull and Back” and “Class of ’62“. Feared local villains, the Driscoll Brothers (Roy Marsden and Christopher Ryan) featured once, in “Little Problems“, but were mentioned in two previous episodes (“Video Nasty” and “The Frog’s Legacy“), and are important in the story of The Green Green Grass. A grown-up Damien (Douglas Hodge) appeared in “Heroes and Villains“. Rodney and Mickey’s friends, the smooth-talking Jevon (Steven Woodcock) and then, briefly, Chris (Tony Marshall), a ladies’ hairdresser, featured sporadically during the sixth and seventh series and the intervening Christmas specials. The two-part 1991 Christmas special, “Miami Twice“, saw Richard Branson and Barry Gibb make cameo appearances. Mike Read appeared as himself, hosting an episode of “Top Of The Pops“, in “It’s Only Rock and Roll” and Jonathan Ross appeared as himself in “If They Could See Us Now“.

While their characters were less significant, well-known actors who played cameos in the programme included Joan Sims, best known for her numerous roles in the Carry Onfilms, who guest-starred in the feature-length episode “The Frog’s Legacy” as an aunt of Trigger and old friend of Del’s late mother; Hollywood star David Thewlis, who played a young wannabe musician in “It’s Only Rock and Roll“; John Bardon, who played the role of Jim Branning in the soap opera “EastEnders“, as the supermarket security officer in “The Longest Night“. Walter Sparrow, who appeared as Dirty Barry in “Danger UXD“, went on to appear in several Hollywood films.

In 1980, John Sullivan, a scriptwriter under contract at the BBC, was already well known as the writer of the successful sitcom Citizen Smith. It came to an end that year and Sullivan was searching for a new project. An initial idea for a comedy set in the world of football was rejected by the BBC, as was his alternative idea, a sitcom centring on a cockney market trader in working class, modern-day London. The latter idea persisted. Through Ray Butt, a BBC producer and director whom Sullivan had met and become friends with when they were working on Citizen Smith, a draft script was shown to the Corporation’s Head of Comedy, John Howard Davies. Davies commissioned Sullivan to write a full series. Sullivan believed the key factor in its being accepted was the success of ITV’s new drama, Minder, a series with a similar premise and also set in modern-day London.

Sullivan had initially given the show the working title Readies. For the actual title he intended to use, as a reference to the protagonist’s tax and work-evading lifestyle, Only Fools and Horses. That name was based on a genuine, though very obscure, saying, “only fools and horses work for a living”, which had its origins in 19th-century American vaudeville. Only Fools and Horses had also been the title of an episode of Citizen Smith, and Sullivan liked the expression and thought it was suited to the new sitcom. He also thought longer titles would attract attention. He was first overruled on the grounds that the audience would not understand the title, but he eventually got his way.

Filming of the first series began in May 1981, and the first episode, “Big Brother“, was transmitted on BBC One at 8.30 pm on 8 September that year. It attracted 9.2 million viewers and generally received a lukewarm response from critics. The viewing figures for the whole first series, averaged at around 7 million viewers. The costumes for the first series were designed by Phoebe De Gaye. Del’s attire was inspired by her going to car boot sales. She took Jason shopping in Oxford Street, and had him try a variety of suits. De Gaye purchased some gaily coloured Gabicci shirts, which were fashionable at the time and she thought “horrible”. Del’s rings and bracelet were made of fake gold and came from Chapel Market. Rodney’s combat jacket came from the BBC’s Costume Department, and De Gaye added a Yasser Arafat scarf purchased from Shepherd’s Bush Market. De Gaye used Vaseline, make-up, and food to make Grandad’s costume look dirty. The idea was that he never had his hat off, never dressed properly, usually had pyjamas underneath his clothes, which would be dirty.

A second series was commissioned for 1982. The second series fared a bit better, and the first and second series had a repeat run in June 1983 in a more low-key time slot, but attracted a high enough viewing figure for Davies to commission a third series. From there, the show began to top the television ratings. Viewing figures for the fourth series were double those of the first. In early December 1984, during the filming of Series 4, Lennard Pearce suffered a heart attack and was taken to hospital. He died on 16 December, the day he was due to resume. Sullivan got to work with the episode “Strained Relations” which featured their goodbye to Grandad. According to Sullivan, recasting Grandad was considered disrespectful to Pearce by the team, so it was decided that another older family member was to be cast. Buster Merryfield was then cast as Grandad’s brother Albert. The scenes of “Hole in One” that featured Pearce were re-filmed with Merryfield.

Midway through the filming of the fifth series, Jason told Sullivan that he wished to leave the show in order to further his career elsewhere. Sullivan thus wrote “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?“, which was intended to be the final episode and would see Del accepting a friend’s offer to set up business in Australia, leaving Rodney and Albert behind. Plans were made for a spin-off entitled Hot-Rod, which would have followed Rodney’s attempts to survive on his own with help from Mickey Pearce, but leaving open the prospect of Del’s return. Jason then changed his mind, and the ending of the episode was changed to show Del rejecting the offer.

Sullivan had a tendency to write scripts that were too long, meaning a lot of good material had to be cut. Shortly before filming of the sixth series began, he and Jason requested that the show’s time slot be extended and it was agreed to extend its running time to 50 minutes. This required a 40 per cent increase in the show’s budget, and coincided with the show making it one of the BBC‘s most popular programmes. Robin Stubbs became the costume designer for the sixth series, and was responsible for getting Del’s attire to match his new yuppy image. His new suits cost around £200 each and were purchased from Austin Reed in Regent Street. The rest came from stores such as Tie-Rack and Dickins and Jones. His jewellery was replaced each series because it was very cheap (the rings with “D” cost 50p each).

The seventh series aired in early 1991. Jason and Sullivan were involved with other projects, and it was confirmed that there were no plans for a new series. Despite this, the show continued in Christmas specials until 1993. Sullivan nonetheless wanted a final episode to tie up the show. In late 1996, three more one-hour episodes were filmed, to be broadcast over Christmas 1996. All three were well received and, due to the ending, were assumed to be the last. The show made a return in Christmas 2001 with the first of three new episodes which were shot together but ultimately broadcast over three consecutive Christmases from 2001 until 2003. Despite rumours of further episodes, in a 2008 interview, Sullivan was quoted as saying:-

“There will not be another series of Only Fools And Horses. I can say that. We had our day, it was wonderful but it is best to leave it now”.

Though Sullivan died in 2011, it returned for a special Sport Relief episode in 2014.

Only Fools and Horses has separate theme songs for the opening and closing credits, “Only Fools and Horses” and “Hooky Street”, respectively. The original theme tune was produced by Ronnie Hazlehurst and recorded on 6 August 1981 at Lime Grove StudiosAlf BigdenPaul Westwood, Don Hunt, John Dean, Judd Proctor, Eddie Mordue, and Rex Morris were hired to play the music. The tune was changed after the first series, and the new one was written by John Sullivan (he disliked the tune for the first series, and his new one explained the show’s title), and Hazlehurst conducted it. It was recorded at Lime Grove on 11 May 1982, with musicians John HorlerDave Richmond, Bigden, and Proctor. Sullivan had intended Chas & Dave to sing it because they had enjoyed success with the “Rockney” style, a mixture of rock n’ roll and traditional Cockney music. Sullivan was persuaded to do it himself by Ray Butt. Despite the creation of a new theme tune, the original one remained in occasional use. Chas & Dave did later contribute to the show, performing the closing credits song for the 1989 episode “The Jolly Boys’ Outing“. Both songs are performed by Sullivan himself, and not – as is sometimes thought – by Nicholas Lyndhurst.

The opening credits see images of the three principal actors peel on and off the screen sequentially. These appear over a background of still photographs of everyday life in South London. The sequence was conceived by graphic designer Peter Clayton as a “metaphor for the vagaries of the Trotters’ lifestyle”, whereby money was earned and quickly lost again. Clayton had also considered using five-pound notes having Del’s face. The action was shot manually frame by frame, and took around six weeks to complete. Clayton knew that it was important to have the characters established in the titles, and prepared a storyboard depicting his ideas using drawings. He photographed various locations with a photographer, and the titles were shot using a rostrum camera and not edited. Brian Stephens, a professional animator, was hired to create the labels’ movement.

The original “Nelson Mandela House” in the titles was Harlech Tower, Park Road East, Acton, London. From 1988 onwards, Whitemead House, Duckmoor Road, Ashton in Bristol was used. The tower block sits directly behind the Bristol City football ground.

It has been released on VHS, DVD and audio CD in several guises. A DVD collection containing every episode was issued, along with various other special edition box-sets, such as a tin based on their Reliant Regal. Videos and DVDs of Only Fools and Horses continue to be among the BBC’s biggest-selling items, having sold over 6 million VHS copies and 1 million DVD copies in the UK.

Only Fools and Horses is one of the UK’s most popular sitcoms. It was among the ten most-watched television shows of the year in the UK in 1986, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The 1996 Christmas trilogy of “Heroes and Villains“, “Modern Men” and “Time on Our Hands” saw the show’s peak. The first two attracted 21.3 million viewers, while the third episode – at the time believed to be the final one – got 24.3 million, a record audience for a British sitcom. Repeat episodes also attract millions of viewers, and the BBC has received criticism for repeating the show too often.

Only Fools and Horses won the BAFTA award for best comedy series in 1985, 1988 and 1996, was nominated in 1983, 1986, 1989, 1990 and 1991 and won the audience award in 2004.

David Jason received individual BAFTAs for his portrayal of Del Boy in 1990 and 1996. The series won a National Television Award in 1997 for most popular comedy series; Jason won two individual awards, in 1997 and 2002. At the British Comedy Awards, the show was named best BBC sitcom for 1990, and received the People’s Choice award in 1997. It also won the Royal Television Society best comedy award in 1997 and two Television and Radio Industries Club Awards for comedy programme of the year, in 1984 and 1997. John Sullivan received the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain comedy award in 1997.

The show regularly features in polls to find the most popular comedy series, moments and characters. It was voted Britain’s Best Sitcom in a 2004 BBC poll, and came 45th in the British Film Institute‘s list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. It was 3rd on a subsequent viewers’ poll on the BFI website. Empire magazine ranked Only Fools and Horses #42 on their list of the 50 greatest television shows of all time. It was also named the funniest British sitcom of all time through a scientific formula, in a study by Gold. Scenes such as Del Boy’s fall through a bar flap in “Yuppy Love” and the Trotters accidentally smashing a priceless chandelier in “A Touch of Glass” are recognisable comedy moments, invariably topping polls of comedy viewers. Del Boy was voted the most popular British TV character of all time in a survey by Open…. and came fourth in a Channel 4 list of Britain’s best-loved TV characters. A Onepoll survey found that Only Fools and Horses was the television series Britons would most like to see return.

In addition to its mainstream popularity, Only Fools and Horses has developed a cult following. The Only Fools and Horses Appreciation Society, established in 1993, has a membership of around 7,000, publishes a quarterly newsletter, Hookie Street, and organises annual conventions of fans, usually attended by cast members. The Society has also organised an Only Fools and Horses museum, containing props from the series, including Del’s camel-hair coat and the Trotters’ Ford Capri. It was named one of the top 20 cult television programmes of all-time by TV critic Jeff Evans.

Evans spoke of:-

[shows] such as Only Fools and Horses, which gets tremendous viewing figures but does inspire conventions of fans who meet in pubs called the Nag’s Head and wander round dressed as their favourite characters.

Only Fools and Horses – and consequently John Sullivan – is credited with the popularisation in Britain of several words and phrases used by Del Boy, particularly “Plonker“, meaning a fool or an idiot, and two expressions of delight or approval: “Cushty” (from the Roma word for “good”)  and “Lovely jubbly“. The latter was borrowed from an advertising slogan for a popular 1960s orange juice drink, called Jubbly, which was packaged in a pyramid shaped, waxed paper carton. Sullivan remembered it and thought it was an expression Del Boy would use; in 2003, the phrase was incorporated into the new Oxford English Dictionary.

Only Fools and Horses was sold to countries throughout the world. Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, IrelandIsraelMalta, New Zealand, PakistanPortugal, South Africa, Spain and Yugoslavia are among those who purchased it.

 In all former Yugoslav countries in which Serbo-Croatian is spoken the title was Mućke (or Мућке in Cyrillic script), which can roughly be translated as “shady deals.” In Macedonia, it’s Spletki (Сплетки in Cyrillic). In Slovenia, however, the show was coined Samo bedaki in konji, which is a literal Slovenian translation of the original English title. The show has enjoyed particular popularity in the former Yugoslavia, and is regarded as a cult series in Croatia, MontenegroSerbia and Slovenia.

There have been several plans to produce an American version. One was to be a star vehicle for former M*A*S*H actor Harry Morgan, with Grandad rather than Del becoming the lead character. The other, entitled This Time Next Year…, would have seen the Trotters renamed the Flannagans. A draft script was written for the latter, but neither show materialised. In 2010 Steve Carell, star of the US version of The Office, expressed an interest in making an American version of the series, with him to star as Del Boy. In January 2012 US network ABC commissioned a pilot of an Only Fools and Horses remake titled “King of Van Nuys”, written by Scrubs writers Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley. It was developed, rejected and then redeveloped, only to be rejected again later in the year. The pilot starred John Leguizamo as Del, Dustin Ybarra as his brother Rodney and Christopher Lloyd as Grandad.

A parody called Only Jerks and Horses was written by David Walliams and Matt Lucas and directed by Edgar Wright in 1997.

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