Since its shaky start in 1981 to its somewhat muted finale on Christmas Day 2003 the British public have taken Only Fools & Horses and the Trotter brothers to their hearts. With their unique brand of comedy and drama, two brothers from Peckham along with their supporting cast have entertained us albeit with no new material (though repeats on BBC1 and GOLD are noted) for the last eleven years. That is until now. Sport Relief on Friday night will see the Trotter brothers reunited for the first time performing new material since John Sullivan’s death in 2011 brought a premature end to promising prequel Rock & Chips. To mark such an occasion, let’s take a look back at 5 great golden moments from Only Fools & Horses.
5. Tea for Three (1986)
This somewhat underrated episode from 1986 sees the two brothers fall out as they try to impress Trigger’s niece Lisa. Having made sure Rodney went more lobster red than tanned brown when the pair invite her over for dinner, the smile is quickly wiped from Del’s face when Rodney arranges a birthday surprise for him – hang gliding – having told Lisa that Del was really keen and experienced. Probably one of the funniest episodes of OFAH I’ve ever seen – the climax at the end is great and well worth watching!
4. Strained Relations (1985)
In this poignant episode from 1985 the brothers mourn the passing of Granddad (Leonard Pearce). The episode is a tribute to writer John Sullivan who proves that he can blend comedy alongside a moving blend of drama. Of course the mourning can’t last too long as the episode also introduces us to Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield) and the rest as they say is history.
3. Three men, a woman and a baby (1991)
In the last OFAH episode to be produced as apart of a series (1996 trilogy excepted) the Trotter family extends and progresses as Del’s long term partner Raquel gives birth to Damien whilst Rodney sorts out his marriage problems with Cassandra. Absolute blinding moment at the end when baby is born and Rodney asks ‘What is it Del’, the typical Del response ‘It’s a little baby Rodney’ is genius. For me the episode also illustrates the progression in OFAH that some comedies genuinely lack. OFAH is about family, and we see the progression and building of that family throughout its run enabling us to become more attached to their characters, other classic comedies of that era such as ‘Last of the Summer Wine’, ‘Open All Hours’ and so on don’t develop their characters as much and this episode is a fine example of this development.
Note the clip is from subsequent episode featuring Damien’s christening – BBC Youtube channel doesn’t have any clips of such a great episode online!!
2. Miami Twice: Oh to be in England (1991)
Perhaps a somewhat controversial choice. Unique in the sense that it is the only episode of OFAH not to have a laughter track, I just love the climax of this as Del & Rodney try to escape the mafia by going through the Everglades, helped by a totally bemused Boycie & Marlene. The episode is filled with great set pieces – from Del nearly being shot on a boat to Del being put on a faulty sea bike to be found 30 miles off the coast of Cuba. Dodgy doppleganger plot aside, this is an episode I could watch again and again.
1. 1996 Trilogy (Heroes & Villains, Modern Men, Time on Our Hands)
OK. I cheated. This is not a golden moment at number one, this is a whole trilogy. I tried to pick between the really funny moments between the three and I simply couldn’t! This trilogy has to be OFAH at the absolute peak of its success. With a loose plot connecting the three episodes, the episodes have a great mix of comedy and drama from Batman & Robin all the way through to the moment where the Trotters finally become millionaires. It’s what dreams are made out of.
OK there have got to be some special mentions here to fantastic moments that didn’t make my top 5. In particular ‘Stage Fright’ (think Cwying) and ‘Chain Gang’ stand out for me, alongside ‘The Longest Night’, ‘Danger UXD’ and ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ (think Peckham spring) – in actual fact there are so many classic moments in this sitcom it’s a wonder why I only ever limited myself to 5 moments!
Only Fools & Horses: Beckham in Peckham airs as apart of BBC1’s Sport Relief, Friday 21st March from 7pm.