First Episode of Only Fools and Horses
The 8th of September 1981 AD
When the first episode of Only Fools and Horses went out at 20:30 on September 8 1981 it didnít look like a British institution had been born. It got moderate viewing figures, which dropped off as the series progressed. Bless the BBC for persevering (though they may have clung on too long in the end), establishing what for several years was one of the funniest programmes on the box.
David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst as brothers Del and Rodney were central to the stories, but it was often the players around them who provided the spice: Roger Lloyd Packís turn as Trigger was never dull; Paul Barberís put-upon Denzil likewise; and John Challis as Boycie earned his central role in the sequel The Green Green Grass. The success of the show was also, of course, down to writer John Sullivan, who when given space wove telling pathos into the comedy.
The show in its early years provided an interesting commentary on the 1980s: Del the wannabe yuppie; the scramble to earn a living; the changing face of Peckham and by extension London . And it even enriched our language: Cushty (from the Romany), Wally and Lovely Jubbly now common parlance.
As was certainly the case with Last of the Summer Wine the show probably outlived its welcome, and the two main actors having escaped the series have blossomed elsewhere. But it is one of those programmes that have a place in the national heart Ė even voted best ever sitcom on at least one occasion, though fans of Dadís Army , Fawlty Towers and The Office may beg to differ.
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