Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses: The female main character nearly introduced to the show instead of Uncle Albert

This could have introduced a very different dynamic to the show

Only Fools and Horses is far and away one of the nation’s favourite TV shows of all time, with its episodes breaking numerous records for viewing figures and the stars of the show some of the most recognisable British celebrities around. The cast of the show did chop and change over the years though, both for practical and tragic reasons.

The best known of these of course is the sad passing of Grandad actor, Lennard Pearce, who died of a heart attack aged 69 in 1984, during the filming of the fourth series of the sitcom. This led to a crisis for the writer of the show John Sullivan, who needed to re-write several episodes, and find a new character to fill Lennard’s big shoes.

Grandad had formed part of the core trio of characters in the show alongside David Jason’s Del Boy and Nick Lyndhurst’s Rodney Trotter, and without the senior character the rapport between the characters wouldn’t be the same.

Only Fools creator and writer John Sullivan in the end decided not to introduce the ‘Auntie Doris’ character (Image: BBC)

Any Only Fools fan will know that in the end the decision was made to introduce Uncle Albert as a replacement for Grandad, Buster Merryfield bringing an excellent performance as the new elder foil to the younger Del and Rodney, and recreating the same dynamic the two had shared with Grandad, albeit with a new twist.

But what a lot of fans may not realise is that Uncle Albert wasn’t the only character that John Sullivan considered to fill the void in the cast, and a new role was nearly created for a female character which would have been the only main character in the show to be played by a woman.

According to the Sun, back in 1984 John was considering a character named Auntie Doris for the part, who would have had a similar personality to Uncle Albert, Del often taking the mick. In the end though, John decided against the idea for the character, realising he could write a lot more cutting dialogue if the character was a man. He explained: “You couldn’t say, ‘Shut up you old git’ to a woman or bundle her into the back of the van.”

So in the end Buster got the gig and Uncle Albert turned out to be an excellent addition to the cast for the remaining seasons of the show, perfectly filling the late Lennard Pearce’s shoes.

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