The actor who set up Del Boy’s famous fall through a bar has told how proud he was to be involved in one of TV’s most iconic scenes.
William Thomas, 75, played the barman in the classic 1989 Only Fools and Horses episode, Yuppy Love. He was tasked with pulling up a bar flap to cause David Jason’s spectacular fall.
The mishap – which took place when Del Boy was distracted by an attractive woman – was a late addition to the script of the popular sitcom
Speaking to mark the 40th anniversary of the BBC show, William said: “That sequence wasn’t in the script to start with and I think it was introduced halfway through the week of rehearsals.
“There was a crash mat on the floor and I had to step over that and open the flap. If you look at it, it is a real piece of technique because David remained absolutely rigid as he fell.
“His leg didn’t buckle, he just went straight down. It is a real gift to do that.
“They only had to film it once because David nailed it.”
Writer John Sullivan and director Tony Dow asked William and David to stay late to practise the sequence.
The now-legendary fall was then recorded in front of an audience.
In the show, Del Boy can be seen chatting to Trigger about women while resting his arm on the bar.
After catching a pretty punter’s eye, he stands up and says: “Play it nice and cool, son, nice and cool…” But when Del goes to lean on the bar again, he fails to notice the flap has been lifted and takes a spectacular tumble.
The scene was named the seventh Greatest Television Moment of All Time in a 1999 Channel 4 poll, beating events such as Winston Churchill’s funeral, the Queen’s coronation and the assassination of JFK.
Welshman William praised David’s professionalism for making the scene such a success.
He said: “David Jason was known as a very physical actor. He had done West End farces and fallen through windows on stage.” But William and the rest of the cast had no idea just how popular the bar fall would become.
William said: “I don’t think I realised how big it would be. They repeated the episode and I think it dawned on people then what a piece of TV magic it was.”
William, who went on to play a vicar in Gavin & Stacey, added: “I do feel proud and privileged to have been a part of a piece of TV comedy history.
“I don’t think you will get prized moments like that often in your career.”
Only Fools and Horses, which follows the misadventures of Peckham brothers Del Boy and Rodney Trotter, aired from 1981 to 2003 and is one of the UK’s most popular programmes.
In 2019, the show launched as a West End musical to critical acclaim.