You had to have a sense of humour to be part of the Only Fools and Horses cast, and the jokes weren’t always saved for the screen. David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst, aka Del Boy and Rodney, were known for their endless pranks on the set of the favourite BBC sitcom. But once this pair of pranksters took the joke too far, even for a fellow comedy veteran.
Lennard Pearce mostly tolerated the endless antics of his naughty co-stars, becoming hardened to their repeated pranks behind the scenes. The Grandad Trotter actor turned a blind eye when Jason and Lyndhurst pretended to fall out with each other to worry the crew, and saw the funny side of most of their jokes, even though they were at his expense.
But one day the younger lads took the joke a step too far, and Pearce suffered a major sense of humour failure. Jason and Lyndhurst decided it would be hilarious to confuse Pearce by making some last-minute prank adjustments to his costume – so they nailed his shoes to the floor, and turned his outfit inside-out.
It’s not hard to picture the two naughty actors giggling like schoolboys as they carried out the deeds. But one person certainly wasn’t giggling when he tried to put his outfit on. The incident seems to have been the straw which broke the camel’s back, as Pearce was reportedly so enraged by the whole thing that he refused to work until producer Ray Butt talked him round.
Lennard Pearce mostly saw the funny side of his co-stars’ pranks – but this was a step too far (Image: Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Writing for the Daily Mail in 2013, Jason described the incident: “When filming began, Nicholas and I bonded quickly, despite our 21-year age difference. We shared a love of mucking about, although we sometimes went too far. Lennard Pearce normally saw the funny side of things but once, when we broke into the wardrobe room, turned his costume inside out and nailed his shoes to the floor, he refused to work until we apologised effusively.”
Ray Butt reportedly made Jason and Lyndhurst apologise to Pearce (although Jason may have undermined the sincerity of the apology when he later claimed Pearce had “lost perspective”). It wasn’t the only time one of their pranks backfired, either. Jason described how they once rigged the men’s toilet with novelty explosives, and ended up giving the elderly cleaning lady such a fright that he said it “nearly finished her off”.