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 between 1981 and 1991, with sporadic Christmas specials until 2003, as well as a one-off Sport Relief special in 2014.
Only Fools and Horses gained a spin-off called The Green Green Grass, and a prequel trilogy called Rock & Chips.
Derek "Del Boy" Trotter (played by Sir David Jason), a fast-talking, archetypal cockney market trader, lives in a council flat in a high-rise tower block, Nelson Mandela House, in Peckham, South London with his much younger brother, Rodney (played by Nicholas Lyndhurst), and their elderly Grandad (played by Lennard Pearce). Their mother Joan died in 1964 when Rodney was young, and their father Reg absconded shortly after his wife's death, effectively making Del as Rodney's surrogate family and the family patriarch. Despite the differences in their ages, the brothers share a constant bond throughout.
The situation focuses primarily on their futile attempts to get rich - "This time next year, we'll be millionaires!" is a frequent catchphrase of Del's - through buying and selling a variety of low-quality and illegal goods, such as Russian Army camcorders, luminous yellow paint, and sex dolls filled with an explosive gas. The Trotters own an unregistered company, "Trotters Independent Traders", trade primarily on the black market and generally neither pay taxes nor claim money from the state; as Del says, "The government don't give us nothing, so we don't give the government nothing." Most of their deals are too dodgy to succeed and usually end up backfiring, an important factor in generating sympathy for the characters. They also drive a grubby yellow Reliant Regal van, and are regulars at their local pub, "The Nag's Head".
Initially, Del, Rodney, and Grandad were the show's only regulars, but gradually the likes of dopey roadsweeper Trigger (played by Roger Lloyd-Pack), snobbish used car salesman Boycie (played by John Challis) and his wife Marlene (played by Sue Holderness), Nag's Head landlord Mike Fisher (played by Kenneth MacDonald), youthful spiv Mickey Pearce (played by Patrick Murray), lorry driver Denzil (played by Paul Barber), and grubby café owner Sid (played by Roy Heather) were added to the cast, becoming popular in their own right and contributing to the humour and the plots, although the show always centered around the Trotters.
As the show progressed, the scope of the plots expanded, leading to the larger regular cast, with creator and writer John Sullivan unafraid to mix comedy with drama. Many early episodes were self-contained, with few plot-lines mentioned again, but the show developed a story arc and an ongoing episodic dimension. Grandad was killed off following the death of Lennard Pearce, and the Trotter Brothers' long-lost Uncle Albert (played by Buster Merryfield) emerged to restore the three generations line-up. After years of fruitless searching, both Del and Rodney found long-term love interests, in the form of actress Raquel Turner (played by Tessa Peake-Jones) and rich evening school student Cassandra Parry (played by Gwyneth Strong) respectively; Del also had a son with Raquel, Damien. Rodney and Cassandra married, separated, and then got back together again. Uncle Albert died. Cassandra miscarried, but then she and Rodney eventually had a daughter, Joan Trotter Jr. Rodney found out his real father was gentleman thief Freddie "The Frog" Robdal (who was also played by Nicholas Lyndhurst in Rock & Chips). The Trotters finally became millionaires, before losing it again, and then regaining some of it.
The humour comes from several sources. The interaction between Del and Rodney is key, with each an ideal comic foil for the other in both personality and appearance. Much is made of the traits of individual characters, such as Del's lack of cultural refinement, despite his pretensions, best seen in his misuse of French phrases or his claims to be a yuppy; Rodney's gormless nature, resulting in him being labelled a "plonker" or a "dipstick" by Del; the general daftness of Grandad and Trigger; and the rampant snobbery of Boycie. There are also several running gags, including Trigger's constant reference to Rodney as "Dave", Uncle Albert's "During the war..." anecdotes, Del's supposed long-time affair with Marlene, and the dilapidated Trotter Van.
Why It Rocks
- A nice blend of comedy and drama.
- Great acting.
- Likable characters.
- Brilliant theme tune as sung by John Sullivan.
- So many memorable episodes, such as "A Touch of Glass", "Friday the 14th", "Strained Relations", "Tea for Three", "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?", "The Frog's Legacy", "Dates", "Yuppy Love", "Little Problems", "The Jolly Boys' Outing", "Stage Fright", "Three Men, a Woman, and a Baby", "Mother Nature's Son", and the 1996 Christmas trilogy.
- The 1986 Christmas special "A Royal Flush".
- Cassandra is the least popular character on the show.