There’s no denying that Only Fools and Horses is one of the TV greats in Britain.
We have roared with laughter at Del Boy, Rodney and Grandad since the first episode aired in 1981. The hilarious trio have gotten up to some mischief over the years, with brilliant business ventures often turning into a total calamity.
But we still love them to this day.
Even the biggest fans of the show can’t know every single thing about it. So, we’re here to add to your knowledge of the show.
Here are 11 interesting facts you probably never knew about Only Fools and Horses – and let us know more facts in the comments below.
1. Another famous actor was considered for the role of Del Boy
We can’t imagine anyone playing Del Boy other than Sir David Jason. But originally, Jim Broadbent was in the running for the wheeler dealer.
David Jason was actually cast quite late for the role.
Broadbent turned down the role because he was already cast in a West End play, but later goes on to play the most-hated man in Peckham and old School Friend from the Dockside Secondary Modern, DCI Roy Slater.
Enn Reitel was also an original favourite for Del Boy too but was unable to take up the role due to prior commitments and a busy schedule. Reitel went on to star in the comedy series The Optimist which ran for two series in 1983.
2. John Sullivan’s inspiration for Rodney
The day-dreaming Rodney Trotter was actually based on John Sullivan’s older brother.
Nicholas Lyndhurst was cast as Rodney Trotter early on in the pre-production of Only Fools and Horses.
John Sullivan wanted the two brothers to have a large age gap in the final scripts.
3. Raquel was only meant to appear in one episode
One thing you do notice during the early episodes, is that the classic comedy is lacking in female characters.
In fact it wasn’t until the Christmas Special – Dates – that women played a major part. Sullivan wrote an episode in which Del signs up for a Dating Agency under the pseudonym Derek Duvel, and is set up on a date with actress Raquel Turner played by Tessa Peake-Jones.
Originally, the part of Raquel was only meant to be played in this one episode but Sullivan wrote her in again a year later in the episode The Jolly Boy’s Outing. She later became a main cast member, moving in with Del and having a son with him named Damien.
4. The sitcom was almost never written
Only Fools was nearly never written, but thanks to a twist of fate it was.
John Sullivan’s first successful BBC sitcom, Citizen Smith, came to an end in 1980. It was then that he pitched another comedy about football.
Thankfully, the BBC rejected it and so Sullivan went back to the drawing board and created Only Fools.
5. The show nearly had a different name entirely
The show was originally given the name Readies, meaning cash, by Sullivan.
However, he decided on Only Fools and Horses instead, a little known phrase referencing “only fools and horses work for a living” and fitting with the Trotter’s tax-evading lifestyle. Eagle-eyed viewers might also know that an episode of Citizen Smith was also called ‘Only Fools and Horses’.
6. Del Boy’s signature ring was a bargain
The ring is an iconic item that we hardly ever see Del Boy without. But it was really quite the bargain.
It is reported to only have cost 50p, according to an excerpt of the book Only Fools and Horses Story by Steve Clark, the costumer designer for series 6.
7. The first series has a different theme tune
The first season of Only Fools and Horses does not have either the iconic opener “Stick a pony in my pocket… ” or the closing credits “Hooky Street”.
It instead has a theme produced by Ronnie Hazlehurst and was recorded in 1981 at Lime Grove Studios.
8. Nelson Mandela House isn’t in London
Just like everything in London, filming in Peckham would have been expensive. The show’s budget didn’t stretch that far, so instead it was filmed at Nelson Mandela House at Whitemead House, Duckmoor Road in Bristol from 1988.
They previously used Harlech Tower, Park Road East in Acton, which you can read all about here.
8. Trigger’s real name isn’t Trigger
Trigger is one of the most well-known characters in the sitcom, but we only know him by his nickname. In fact, his real name is Colin Ball.
9. He’s also in the very first and last episodes
Trigger is also the only other character alongside Del and Rodney to appear in both the first and the last episode of the show.
10. David Beckham once starred in the sitcom
For a special episode written and filmed for Sport Relief, the famous footballer starred in the show.
It was broadcast on March 21, 2014, and was written by Jim Sullivan and Dan Sullivan, sons of the original Only Fools writer John Sullivan and it featured unused material he had previously written for the show.
David Beckham is shown to be helping the Trotters sell ‘Golden Balls Underpants’ which are said to be endorsed and signed by Beckham himself. Rodney is obviously used as a reluctant underwear model and is taught some signature poses by Beckham.
11. Grandad was modelled on another famous character
During the casting for Grandad, John Sullivan wanted to find an actor that resembled Wilfred Brambell’s performance as Albert Steptoe in the popular 1960s sitcom from Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, Steptoe and Son.
Instead of choosing Brambell, who was heavily recognisable from Steptoe and Son, Sullivan wanted to find someone capable of portraying his daft, scruffy yet witty character for Grandad. After seeing Lennard Pearce’s audition, Sullivan chose him immediately.