Sunday 30 July 2017

9 Pukka Slices of Rare Only Fools and Horses Footage

Only Fools and Horses was awarded the title of Britain's Best Loved Sitcom in 2015 and it was also voted Britain's Favourite Sitcom in 2004; it's no surprise, really, as it's packed full of likeable characters and plenty of gags which satisfy almost every demographic. It makes you wonder why there aren't more sitcoms which can engender the feeling of love that OFAH does, but I guess love and genius are rare commodities.

This passion for Del Boy, Rodney et al means that every household in the land either has the complete OFAH boxset or has access to GOLD (essentially the OFAH boxset disguised as a digital channel). As a result, people all over the country can recite huge chunks of dialogue and argue almost non-stop about which is the greatest episode. However, not everyone is aware of the unusual, mostly unseen and long forgotten snippets of OFAH which are lurking online with a whole 'new' set of laughs.

And this is why I've decided to gather together 9 pukka slices of rare Only Fools and Horses footage in one place. Some of them may appear to have been swept up by Trigger round the back of the Nag's Head, so the quality is variable, but as Del Boy would say "C'est la vie, mange tout!"

1. Del Boy and Boycie Rover Car Advert

This rarely seen advert is essentially a quickie reveal gag, but it also features classic Del Boy patter such as "This is quality with a capital K", a Boycie guffaw of the finest vintage and there's still time to pack in a quick laugh at Del Boy's beloved Reliant Regal.

2. Abbey National Adverts

Although the character played by David Jason in these adverts is never referred to as Del Boy, you only have to take one look at his attire (particularly the awful sportswear in the hotel advert) to know that this is Del Boy and that's before he's opened his north and south with one liners like "The Light Brigade made less ridiculous charges!"

3. Christmas 1988 Only Fools and Horses Promo

This specially filmed promo finds Del Boy and Rodney reading the Christmas edition of the Radio Times and discussing a show featuring a "plonker" and a character with good "business sense" before Uncle Albert's bearded face emerges from the three wheeler and the rug is yanked from underneath out feet with a classic misdirection gag.

4. Christmas Trees

This 1982 mini episode featuring Del Boy, Rodney, Grandad and Sid aired as part of The Funny Side of Christmas which was presented by Frank Muir. Written by John Sullivan himself, Christmas Trees is quintessential OFAH and, as such, has an underhand Del Boy scheme at it's very heart and perhaps one of the best ever Del Boy lines of "Ethics? They make model aeroplanes, don't they?"

5. White Mice

Christmas Eve, 1985 found Del Boy appearing in a quick sketch on BBC1's Breakfast Time. Having sold a batch of white mice which would - according to Del Boy - turn into horses, Del is now being investigated by a BBC consumer expert who isn't buying into Del's excuse that the mice haven't transformed yet as they're still set to Korean time.

6. 1983 Harty Christmas Special

The early 1980s found Russell Harty hosting his own show called, not surprisingly, Harty and the 21st December 1983 Christmas special was transmitted from the former Railway Orphanage in Woking. In amongst the guests were Del Boy, Rodney and Grandad who, at Del's command, were planning to gatecrash Russell Harty's Christmas party to get a free Christmas dinner. Rather disturbingly, Del refers to Rodney as Jimmy Savile's lovechild in one gag...

7. The Robin Flies at Dawn

This five minute sketch was specially filmed as a message of goodwill to the British troops serving in the Gulf War. Featuring Del Boy's three wheeler van decked out with a machine gun (perfect for a rough night in Peckham or Baghdad) as Del, Rodney and Uncle Albert failed to protect the location of their top secret filming location. Oh and Rodney promises to look after the troops' wives and girlfriends - whatever would Cassandra say?

8. 1985 Radio Times Promo

A BBC promo for the Christmas edition of the Radio Times, this clip finds Del, Rodney and Uncle "Santa" Albert sat in the flat and taking a look at the BBC's Christmas schedule. Name checking Roland Rat, Tenko and Stanley Baxter, it's a real dose of nostalgia and there are plenty of gags crammed in. A true stocking filler.

9. Licensed to Drill

Written by John Sullivan, this educational episode - produced by the Maureen Oilfield Consortium in 1984 - of OFAH never aired commercially and was only shown in schools and colleges. With a strong emphasis on the oil industry, this 20 minute episode (without a laughter track) finds Del Boy being conned into buying an 'oil rig' for £400 off a mysterious character called Paddy. This episode proved to be the final appearance of Grandad as Lennard Pearce died shortly afterwards.

So, how many of these can you remember? Oh, and if anyone has a complete copy of the OFAH sketch from the 1986 Royal Variety Performance then let me know and I'll stick it up here too!


  1. I was expecting also to see the credits for series 1, which in the original version, had a different theme tune. Also, the episode The Royal Flush was edited after first transmission, with several deletions and a laugh track added.

    1. 'Royal Flush' is one of three notable lows for this wonderful show, alongside 'If They Could See Us Now' - which doomed the actually-otherwise-solid 2000s comeback - and 'Miami Twice'.

      Talking of re-edits, the DVD of 'Miami Twice' hideously mangles both parts together as one big episode, with laugh track throughout. Fair enough it wasn't any good (probably the most glaring of several episodes where John Sullivan was clearly forced to bolt the OFAH characters onto an idea he'd conceived seperately), but at least let us watch crap as crap was meant to be seen. Don't make it even crapper!

    2. I have every episode fully uncut with the original theme tunes for series 1.

  2. I see GOLD are doing yet another OFAH retrospective. Sounds a bit more interesting than the usual sort of thing (I mean for example there must be more 'documentaries' about Fawlty Towers than episodes of Fawlty Towers) as they're broadcasting some bits and pieces supposedly never seen on telly before. Mainly outtakes and bloopers, but also including Licensed to Drill.

  3. I can remember seeing The Royal Flush in it's original form and the scene where Del makes a show of himself getting drunk at dinner was several minutes longer. I'm pretty certain there was one moment where Del did that trick where you moisten your finger-tip and run in around the rim of a wine glass to make a high-pitched sound which seems to have vanished from the repeat that gets shown on GOLD now.