After hearing that Del Boy’s ‘reliant robin’ will be featured in the closing ceremony of the Olympics, it is only fair to pay homage to the sitcom that made that three-wheel van so famous. Only Fools and Horses (OFAH) is considered one of, if not the best British sitcom of all time.
Written by the late John Sullivan, OFAH first aired on the BBC in 1981. It featured around a family called the Trotters who lived in Peckham, south London. Derek Trotter (Del Boy) played by David Jason, was the most famous of the fictional family, who would buy and sell anything in an attempt to complete his ‘get rich quick’ schemes. His brother Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst) would try help with Del’s attempts while also dealing with his own life problems. With a mix of other family members such as granddad (Lennard Pearce) and Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield) and friends a sitcom was created. So what makes the sitcom an everlasting presence in British comedy?
Firstly, let us look at the characters in more detail. Del boy was an inspiration and an aspiration to the audience with his positive attitude; if one of his schemes did not work, he would hold his head high and try again. He is a character that the audience loves for many reasons, whether it is for his good heart by fathering his brother Rodney and helping him whenever he could, or simply just for making a fool of himself with incorrect French phrases that he throws into conversations. Then we have Rodney, the butt of many jokes, who as an audience we admire for his patience in his brother’s crazy schemes. Uncle Albert and Grandad always helped with the comedy with their witty remarks and help in Del’s scheme. One of the most famous characters from OFAH that wasn’t a Trotter was Trigger (Roger Lloyd Pack) who was a friend of the Trotter’s. However his main role in the sitcom was to play the ‘village idiot’. The audience laughed at how unbelievably stupid and ditzy he could be, with all the other characters simply mocking him.
Then we have the comedy itself. OFAH blended slapstick comedy and wittiness together. The slapstick comedy being where characters got hurt in a funny way such as when Del Boy claimed to be a paratrooper in order to impress a girl and went hang gliding and fell into a radio broadcasting tower. And who could forget, one of the most memorable moments in OFAH, when Del Boy tries to act cool in a suave ‘yuppy’ bar by learning on a bar hatch and falls through it. Throughout each episode, there are also witty and sarcastic remarks made by the character that keep the audience laughing. One example of this being when Del says, “Everyone goes to court Rodney”, with Rodney replying “Once! They’ve given you your own parking space.
The last reason why OFAH is arguably the greatest British sitcom is the unforgettable quote and moment. Del Boy has made many catchphrases famous with some being part of the Oxford English dictionary. Some of his quotes include ‘Lovely Jubbly’, ‘Cushty’ and ’24 carrot gold plonker’ and the numerous incorrect French phrases. Then there is the unforgettable moments , that no matter how many times you watch over and over, you still laugh. These memorable moments include Del Boy falling through the bar, the coach on the Jolly Boys outing blowing up, the Chandelier falling and many more. OFAH was also able to pull on the heart strings of the audience and not just make them laugh. Moment like when Damien Trotter (Del’s son) is born and Del holds him to the window talking about the future. It’s an ‘aww’ moment where OFAH takes a step back from comedy and goes in a different direction.
There is no doubt that Only Fools and Horses is one of the best British sitcoms ever that will always attract an audience. I for one am glad that it will be paid tribute with the reliant robin being shown during the closing ceremony of the London Olympics.