It might have first appeared on TV screens four decades ago, but the BBC‘s Only Fools and Horses remains hugely popular among audiences both young and old.
The show, famous for catchphrases such as ‘cushty’, ‘lovely jubbly’ and ‘plonker’, starred aspiring entrepreneur Del Boy (Sir David Jason) and his younger brother Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst) who lived in a flat in Peckham, South East London.
When Del Boy finally struck it rich after auctioning an antique watch during the 1996 Christmas special ‘Time on our Hands’, more than 24million people watched.
No new episodes of Only Fools have appeared on British TV screens for two decades, with the last one being a special shown on Christmas Day 2003.
Many of the programme’s stars are now no longer with us, including Lennard Peace who was in the show from 1981 up until his death in 1984, at the age of 69.
Buster Merryfield, who was Uncle Albert, died aged 78 in 1999, while Trigger actor Roger Lloyd-Pack died at 69 in 2014 and Boycie star John Challis died at 79 in 2021.
The show’s writer John Sullivan died in 2011, but Only Fools has since found further success as a West End musical which launched in 2019. It will close this Saturday.
Yesterday, Mickey Pearce actor Patrick Murray sadly revealed that his cancer had returned and spread, just three months after claiming ‘liver surgery saved his life’.
Also yesterday, it was revealed actress-turned-novelist Kate Saunders, who played a policewoman called Sandra who was a love interest of Rodney, had died aged 62.
Here, MailOnline looks at what the hit comedy’s cast did before and after the show:
The BBC’s long-running comedy Only Fools and Horses starred Sir David Jason as Del Boy (centre), Nicholas Lyndhurst as Rodney (right) and Buster Merryfield as Uncle Albert (left)
Enterprising cockney Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter wanted nothing more than to be a millionaire
Sir David Jason starred as the iconic wheeler dealer Del Boy (left). He is also pictured in 2015
Despite a string of TV hits under his belt, Sir David Jason, now 83, will forever be known as enterprising cockney Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter, who drove a three-wheeled 1967 Reliant Regal Supervan III and wanted nothing more than to be a millionaire – with the least effort required possible.
Born in Edmonton, London, Sir David started out in 1964, playing the part of Bert Bradshaw in Crossroads, before going on to play spoof super-hero Captain Fantastic, among other roles, in the children’s comedy series Do Not Adjust Your Set, alongside Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Denise Coffey and Michael Palin.
His career very nearly didn’t take off when he missed out on the part of Lance Corporal Jines in Dad’s Army; after initially being cast by David Croft, he was swiftly replaced by Clive Dunn after BBC exec Bill Cotton overruled Croft.
Sir David joked he was ‘cast at 12 o’clock and saved by three.’ He also missed out on the starring role of Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em in 1973 because BBC honchos thought he lacked ‘star quality’.
He spent 18 months in the West End in 1973, in the farce No Sex Please, We’re British, and appeared as the support act for Dick Emery in a number of variety shows, where he caught the eye of Ronnie Barker.
Sir David was subsequently recruited to play Granville alongside Ronnie in the sitcom Open All Hours, and jailbird Bianco Webb in Porridge in 1973.
He reprised his role of shopkeeper Granville in the sequel, Still Open All Hours, in 2014, and appeared again in the third series in 2017. By November last year, the energetic octogenarian had wrapped up a sixth series.
Sir David also famously starred as Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May in 1991, the show that launched the career of Catherine Zeta Jones.
But arguably his biggest role after Del Boy came playing Detective Inspector Jack Frost in the crime drama A Touch of Frost from the 1992 until 2010.
In 1993 he was awarded an OBE, and 12 years later, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2005, Sir David was knighted for services to acting and comedy.
He released an autobiography in 2013 entitled David Jason: My Life, and followed it up with a second volume, Only Fools and Stories: From Del Boy to Granville, Pop Larkin to Frost in October 2017.
His third autobiography, A Del Of A Life, was published in October 2020. He also published a Christmas book called The Twelve Dels of Christmas last year.
Sir David, pictured playing Granville alongside Ronnie Barker in Open All Hours in 1973
Sir David Jason is seen in A Touch of Frost, left, and reprising his role as Granville in Still Open All Hours, right, in 2016
In 1995, Sir David was left grief-stricken after his girlfriend of 18 years, Welsh actress Myfanwy Talog, died of breast cancer (pictured together in 1993)
Sir David has an impressive collection of silverware, having picked up four British Academy Television Awards, in 1988, 1991, 1997 and 2003, four British Comedy Awards (1990, 1992, 1997, 2001) and seven National Television Awards (two in 1996, 1997, two in 2001, 2002 and 2011).
In recent years, a plethora of documentaries including David Jason’s Great British Inventions and David Jason: Planes, Trains & Automobiles have kept the star on screen and a bank balance so healthy, it would turn his alter-ego Del Boy’s eyes green.
There’s been tragedy too, though. In 1995, Sir David was left grief-stricken after his girlfriend of 18 years, Welsh actress Myfanwy Talog, died of breast cancer.
He found happiness again with Gill Hinchcliffe, 20 years his junior, whom he married in 2005. Gill gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Sophie Mae, in February 2001 when the actor was 61. The couple now live in Buckinghamshire.
But in March this year, his life had a remarkable twist when he found out that he actually had another daughter who was 30 years older than Sophie.
Sir David was left shocked to find he was the father to 52-year-old Abi Harris and grandfather to her 10-year-old son Charlie after having a brief fling with her mother Jennifer Hill in 1970.
Hill starred in the James Bond film Octopussy and alongside Sir David in a stage production of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood at the Mayfair Theatre in London.It was during this production they had a brief relationship, during which he fathered Ms Harris – although he was unaware of their connection even when he appeared in a revival performance of Under Milk Wood in 2008 with Ms Harris and her mother.
Despite his advancing years, Sir David’s national treasure status has ensured his earnings have stayed buoyant. His company, Peglington Productions Ltd, revealed the star had earned around £2.3million in 2018 and 2019.
Sir David found happiness again with Gill Hinchcliffe, 20 years his junior, whom he married in 2005. They are pictured together at the Royal Albert hall in 2019
Sir David Jason was left shocked to discover 52-year-old Abi Harris (pictured with him here) was his daughter, it emerged last month
Sir David had previously thought he only had one daughter, 22-year-old Sophie (pictured here with Sir David and his wife Gill Hinchcliffe)
In 2017, he made it to the BBC’s list of top earners, with an estimated salary from the broadcaster of between £300,000 and £349,999.
Sir David is a patron of the Shark Trust, a British charity working to advance the worldwide conservation of sharks, and he’s also been Honorary Vice Patron of the Royal International Air Tattoo since 1999.
Last month Sir David was reunited with actress Sue Holderness – best known for her role as Marlene Boyce in Only Fools – in Milton Keynes for the annual Only Fools And Horses convention.
And last December, Sir David revealed that he and his Only Fools And Horses co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, who played his brother Rodney, have drifted apart.
The actor said his long-time friend is now more ‘self-contained’ than he once was and that he doesn’t get to see him as often as he would like to.
Also last year, Sir David described contracting a ‘seriously bad’ bout of Covid-19 in July 2022, which saw his muscles stop working, causing him to collapse against a radiator and crawl ‘like a walrus’ across his carpet.