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Trivia / Only Fools and Horses

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  • Acting for Two:
  • Adored by the Network:
    • There will be at minimum one or two episodes a day on UK TV Gold/Gold. On the most extreme days? What seems like non stop episodes from about dawn to dusk, to the point you could probably use the channel as an alternative to the DVD box set.
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    • Surprisingly averted early on. When Only Fools and Horses first aired both John Sullivan and David Jason felt the show was decidedly unloved at the BBC due to it portraying a working-class family in a London tower block, and complained that it wasn't receiving the same publicity and support as other programmes. Jason noted that the only publicity material about the show at the BBC television centre was near a toilet on a floor that only a few executives had access to. It was only after it became a guaranteed ratings winner and cash cow for the BBC that attitudes changed.
  • Ascended Fanon: The official title of the 2014 Sport Relief Special was actually... well, 2014 Sport Relief Special. The episode was unofficially referred to as "Beckham in Peckham" by most of the press, then the fans, and finally the BBC themselves in subsequent releases.
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  • Author Existence Failure: Rock and Chips would presumably have continued the story arc up to the death of Joan Trotter had writer John Sullivan not passed away.
  • California Doubling: The series two episode "It Never Rains" sees the Trotters go on holiday to Spain. Naturally, it was filmed in Bournemoth.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Jim Broadbent was John Sullivan's original choice for the role of Del. While Broadbent turned down the role, he did later make three guest appearances in the show as DCI Roy Slater. Had Broadbent been cast, not only would we have had a completely different Del Boy, but he has stated in interviews that he would only have made one or two series before moving on, and thus the show would never have become the major hit it did later. Roger Lloyd-Pack was also considered for Del Boy before being cast as Trigger.
  • The Character Died with Him:
    • When Lennard Pearce died, they decided to kill off his character, Granddad (off-screen, of course). Thus the first episode made after Pearce's death begins with Granddad's funeral.
    • The same happened with Uncle Albert after the death of Buster Merryfield. Although Albert died during the episode, with the first scene explaining that he hadn't joined them in the Caribbean because it had turned out the great sailor didn't have a passport.
    • Averted when Kennetth MacDonald (Mike the landlord) died of cancer in 2001. Out of sensitivity to his family Mike was not killed off, so it was explained that he was in prison.
  • Completely Different Title: In Croatia, the show was called Scams.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode:
    • John Sullivan's favourite episode was the 1988 Christmas Special "Dates".
    • David Jason's favourite was "The Russians are Coming".
    • Roger Lloyd Pack and Paul Barber named the 1989 Christmas Special "The Jolly Boys' Outing" as their favourite.
    • John Challis' favourite was "The Sky's the Limit".
  • Dawson Casting: Although Cassandra was supposed to be five years younger than Rodney, in real life Gwyneth Strong is actually two years older than Nicholas Lyndhurst.
  • Doubling for London: The outdoor scenes were filmed in Bristol as the producers could not afford the insurance to film in Peckham.
  • Follow the Leader: John Sullivan convinced the BBC to go ahead with the show based on the success of Minder, another comedy series about a London wheeler-dealer.
  • Funny Character, Boring Actor: Roger Lloyd Pack was described by David Jason and others as a thoughtful, quiet intelligent man, the polar opposite of Trigger.
  • Hostility on the Set: Averted as David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst became good friends and the rest of the cast generally got on well, although as a joke on a boring day of filming, Lyndhurst and Jason once decided to fake a huge argument. They also liked to play pranks on Lennard Pearce and Buster Merryfield, like convincing the latter that he would have to shave off his famous beard for a flashback scene.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:
    • A downplayed example; while Only Fools and Horses is still the BBC's best-selling shows of all time on both VHS and DVD, the Corporation's apparent desire to eradicate all traces of the original Ronnie Hazlehurst theme tune has led to the VHS releases of the first series (which, unlike the DVD, kept the original theme intact) becoming quite sought after by purist fans.
    • Due to music licensing laws, the BBC has replaced the original soundtrack on many episodes, and in some cases simply cut out scenes where the offending music is being played. John Sullivan's family were not happy with the results. The law on music licensing has since changed, meaning the original unedited episodes could now be released, but the BBC is yet to do this.
    • The same applies to the original version of "A Royal Flush," which is unavailable on any home video format (the VHS release had about a minute of footage removed, and the DVD release removed nearly ten minutes of footage and added a laugh track). However, the original cut still appears from time to time on UKTV Gold and other such channels, so it's not too hard to find decent quality versions of it.
    • In a straight version, several mini-episodes such as Christmas Trees, Licensed to Drill and the Comic Relief Special have never been released on VHS or DVDs.
  • Old Shame:
    • Nearly everyone involved with the show regards "A Royal Flush" to have been a huge misfire, to the point where John Sullivan admitted in an interview on the day that the show's Grand Finale was broadcast that he wished he had never written it.
    • To a lesser extent, Sullivan also wasn't happy with the first Christmas specials, considering "Christmas Crackers" to be both rather listless and a re-tread of "Go West, Young Man". While the second Christmas special, "Diamonds are For Heather", did show that Del can be a family man if he put his mind to it, Sullivan still felt the episode to be a little on the generic side. It wasn't until the third Christmas special, "Thicker than Water" that Sullivan tried writing a more significant episode than usual, and then the fourth special, "To Hull and Back" cemented the feature-length format of the Christmas episodes.
  • One-Take Wonder: The famous chandelier gag was done in one take, mainly because they only had one (very expensive) prop. It was initially intended that this would be the final scene in the episode, so after the incident David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst were required to stand and stare at each other in silence for 30 seconds while the camera rolled. Lyndhurst later recalled that Butt threatened him with the sack if he ruined the scene by laughing.
  • Only Barely Renewed: Due to poor viewing figures, the show was almost cancelled after two series. However, it was repeated in a low key time slot and achieved respectable ratings, which convinced BBC producers to commission another series. The show went from strength to strength thereafter and ironically was continually revived during the 1990s and 2000s owing to its status as a ratings winner.
  • Post-Script Season: The show ended after 15 years (7 seasons and four sets of Christmas specials) with the Trotter brothers finding an antique watch in their garage, and becoming millionaires at last. The three episode finale, where the Trotters are finally shown in luxury penthouses and expensive sports cars, was shown over Christmas 1996 and attracted massive viewing figures for The BBC. A few years later they convinced writer John Sullivan to reprise the ever-popular characters for three more Christmas Episodes. Having the Trotters lose their investment money in a stock market crash (based on one in real life) and return to their original lifestyle only to gain some of their lost fortune back and allow Rodney and Cassandra to finally have a child of their own, the specials were panned by critics and viewers alike, and no more have been produced since 2003. To add salt to the wound, "Time On Your Hands" was featured on Sky1's often repeated Top Fifty TV Endings feature... completely ignoring the three 2001-2003 specials.
  • Reality Subtext: The deaths of the actors playing four characters were written into the show: Grandad and Uncle Albert were said to have died (and their funerals shown), Mike Fisher was said to be in prison for embezzlement (leading to Sid taking over the Nag's Head), and Denzil's wife Corrine was said to have finally divorced him.
  • Technology Marches On: A lot of the stuff Del flogs is extremely quaint now, such as huge camcorders, VCRs, old computers, etc.
  • Troubled Production: The 1986 Christmas Special "A Royal Flush" had a very troubled production. David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Buster Merryfield left production in Dorset to make an appearance at the Royal Variety Performance, putting the episode behind schedule. Jason lost his voice and needed three days off to get it back. This was the only time Jason ever called in sick on an episode of the show. As soon as he recovered, Lyndhurst came down with the flu, throwing the production into a panic. There was no more time for edits so it couldn't be played before a studio or live audience, leaving the episode with no laughter track and no music. It got so close to the deadline that the final scene was nearly broadcast live on Christmas Day, 1986, a nerve-wracking prospect, what with performing the scene to 19 million viewers, and would have wrecked the cast's Christmas plans. Whenever anyone asked questions during the production chaos, the answer they got was "Fuck knows!" It was finished at the very last minute with editing continuing into the early hours of Christmas morning. Jason likened it to Santa's elves on amphetamines to get the episode finished on time. In the end, he thought it was patchy, but he was not surprised, just relieved it got made.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • The show is firmly rooted in the 1980s. One episode has the Trotters preparing for a nuclear war by testing a bomb shelter and there was a period where Del became a yuppie having seen Wall Street. Not to mention the clothes, the music, the references to British culture of the time...
    • The 2001—2003 trilogy establishes that the Trotters still have their old flat because Del couldn't sell it for its actual value. This dates it to before the 2000s property market explosion in London, which would have seen prospective developers and landlords left, right and centre trying to buy the flat from Del. If anything, he'd likely have had a bidding war on his hands just a few years later.
  • Wag the Director: David Jason vetoed ideas that Del should have a perm, thick Elvis sideburns or gold sovereign rings on each finger (just two on each hand instead) because they were parodistic and not the right way to go. Instead of a perm, Del had tidy hair with a bit of grease.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Or what could have not been. Due to disappointing viewing figures for the first two series, the show was nearly cancelled altogether. However, the first and second series were repeated in a low key time slot in June 1983 and achieved respectable ratings, which convinced BBC producers to commission a third series. The show went from strength to strength thereafter.
    • John Sullivan intended for Chas & Dave to sing the show's theme song due to the success from their "Rockney" style of music (a mixture of rock 'n roll and cockney). However, they were unavailable having just recorded their hit single "Ain't No Pleasing You", so Sullivan sang the song himself after being persuaded by Ray Butt to do so. They did record a song for "The Jolly Boys' Outing".
    • In 1986, David Jason told John Sullivan that he wanted to leave the show and further his career elsewhere, so the fifth series finale "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" was written as the final OFAH episode, and would have seen Del leaving England with his friend Jumbo Mills to run a car business in Australia. A spin-off entitled Hot-Rod was planned, which would've been all about Rodney running Trotters Independent Traders with Mickey Pearce. However, Jason changed his mind and decided to stay on, and Sullivan rewrote the ending to show Del rejecting Jumbo's offer.
    • The Troubled Production and poor reception of 1986's Christmas special, "A Royal Flush" caused outgoing producer-director Ray Butt to tell John Sullivan that the show had run out of steam, and to let it end with the following year's Christmas special, "The Frog's Legacy." Sullivan did consider doing this, but ultimately decided against it after "The Frog's Legacy" got a much better reception, though he did give the show a major retool afterwards.
    • John Sullivan originally wanted to make Cassandra a girlfriend of Trigger, Denzil or an admirer of Boycie, but decided that like he planned to do with Del, Rodney needed a long term relationship.
    • An American remake of the show was once said to be in the works, but never surfaced.
    • In the first chapter of the early 2000s Christmas trilogy, "If They Could See Us Now" (2001), The BBC wanted to get the rights from ITV to use the actual Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? gameshow with a special guest appearance from Chris Tarrant, but ITV refused because a plot point was that Del gave a correct answer and the quizmaster said it was wrong due to an error. They ended up with a blatant expy called Goldrush, hosted by Jonathan Ross.
    • Elizabeth Hurley auditioned for Cassandra.
    • Anthony Hopkins was keen to appear in the show, as he was a big fan. John Sullivan even wrote the part of Danny Driscoll for him, but filming clashed with The Silence of the Lambs and he therefore had to pull out.
    • After Lennard Pearce's death, John Sullivan considered introducing an elderly female relative who would come to live with the Trotters.
  • Word of Saint Paul:
    • David Jason always suspected that Uncle Albert's war stories were fake.
    • Roger Lloyd-Pack stated that Trigger, while not intelligent, believed that he had an insight into life. He suggested that Trigger felt excluded as a child and found his status by saying things that made people laugh.
  • Working Title: John Sullivan originally named the show Readies.
  • Write What You Know: Most of the show's storylines were based on events in the life of creator John Sullivan and/or members of his family. Similarly, Del Boy's characterization was essentially a combination of Sullivan's father and the show's initial producer-director, Ray Butt (who Sullivan had previously worked with on Citizen Smith).
  • You Look Familiar: Jumbo Mills, Del's old friend and business partner, is played by Nick Stringer, who also appeared in the Series 1 episode "Go West Young Man" as an Australian to whom Del sells a car with faulty brakes.


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