Only Fools And Horses (BBC1, 1981-2003)
This is a comedy show that I have wanted to review for a while, but I haven’t been sure what angle to take because unlike some that I feature on this blog it is just so well-known. I was thinking about doing a piece like what I did with Father Ted where I looked back at some of my favourite characters and episodes, and I might still do that, but I’ll just do this for now.
It could be argued that Only Fools And Horses is the most successful sitcom that this country has ever produced, what I could I possibly say about the show that people wouldn’t already know, everyone knows what this one is about really. Indeed, it is so familiar that it reminds me of something. Many years ago, while watching UK Gold, they used to have a short show that previewed what was coming to the channel.
This meant that the idea of various shows were explained, including this one, as if viewers weren’t familiar with it. So when the host started to say “it’s about two brothers who live in Peckham” I started mocking because I honestly couldn’t believe that anyone had to be told all this. It’s a show that seems to have always been familiar and always around, even though when it launched in the early-80s it wasn’t an instant success.
The first time that I remember watching the show and seeing Del Boy and Rodney’s wheeling and dealing would probably be around the early-90s. So when I finally saw the earliest series for the first time when they were repeated, it was rather odd seeing that Uncle Albert didn’t feature in them, but I soon realised that Granddad was a memorable character too. He never did stop going on about that cheeseburger.
It is also remarkable to realise that all of the episodes from start to finish were written by only one person, John Sullivan, who definitely knew a thing or two about how to create a successful sitcom. And it’s fair to say that the viewers got plenty of episodes to enjoy. Not only were there the regular series, but there were also Christmas specials, and some of them were 90 minutes long. Some episodes have become rather cosy and familiar, I really could watch them over and over again.
The support cast weren’t too bad either, what with Boycie, Mickey, Trigger, and many others that could often be found down The Nag’s Head. Add in a catchphrase or two, and you really have got a winning formula. At the end of one special in 1996 Del and Rodney finally struck it rich. Maybe it could’ve been seen as a little sentimental, but I don’t think that there was a single viewer who could begrudge them their new-found fortune. This caused such a stir that it was the highest-rated episode of a sitcom in British TV history, with a figure that most soaps would be proud of.
All of the episodes have been released on DVD in a rather big boxset on 26 discs. The only extra is a documentary looking back at some classic moments. There has also been a huge amount of merchandise. Some that I have includes books, such as ones featuring scripts and extra information on the characters, a look back at Del’s life in the form of an autobiography, and even quizzes that contain lots of trivia.
There are also lots of fansites, conventions that have been attended by fans and even some cast members, and a musical, along with the episodes still being repeated endlessly on various channels. I could go on and on, it really is such a classic show. There was also the prequel Rock And Chips, along with the sequel The Green Green Grass (and I’ll review that soon too).