Before Only Fools and Horses, David Jason hadn’t had a major TV role, with the exception of Open All Hours. Despite the fact that he looked nothing like his on-screen brother, he was cast for the role after Jim Broadbent turned it down.
Although set in Peckham, south London, the majority of the filming took place in and around Bristol. The exterior of ‘Nelson Mandela House’ was actually filmed at Whitemead House, in Ashton, Bristol.
Jim Broadbent was originally asked to play Del Boy. David Jason was not the producers’ first choice.
The BBC weren’t sure initially about the casting of David Jason because he and Nicholas Lyndhurst looked nothing alike. But John Sullivan disagreed. Del needed to be shorter to imply the suspected illegitimacy of the Trotters.
Elizabeth Hurley actually auditioned for the part of Rodney’s girlfriend, Cassandra. But she was turned down for the role, as it was thought she was too ‘model like’.
The series was almost called The Readies.
In the episode where Del Boy and Rodney remove a chandelier, the actors only had one shot to do a perfect scene. If Nicholas Lyndhurst or David Jason had laughed when the chandelier fell, they would have lost the episode. They were only allowed one take as the chandelier cost £6,000!
Over a dozen Reliant Regals (the three-wheeled vans) were used during the series.
Buster Merryfield, who played Uncle Albert, and was famous for his catchphrase, ‘During the war,’ was surprisingly similar to his character. He actually was a war hero and served in the Royal Artillery.
Much of Sullivan’s material for Only Fools and Horses scripts came from his real-life experiences. E.g falling through a raised bar flap, the chandelier falling and his father’s poker sessions.
20 Quotes, sayings and one-liners from “Only Fools and Horses”
Did you know, 500 years ago this was a green and peaceful area? The old Earl of Peckham had a castle where the Kwik-Fit exhaust centre now stands.
Flaxen-haired maidens used to dance round the village maypole of an evening. And then one fateful medieval day, the Trotter clan arrived in a stolen Zephyr.
Before you knew it, the flaxen-haired maiden was up the spout, the old Earl had been sold some hooky armour and someone nicked the maypole. BOYCIE
As Macbeth said to Hamlet in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “We’ve been done up like a couple of kippers”. DEL
I’m a Ming fan myself. He made some wonderful stuff, that Ming. Pity he had to go and die when he did. DEL
One day they might make a musical about the Trotter family. Then, as a sequel, they could do Schindler’s List on ice. RODNEY
They’re yuppies. They don’t speak proper English like what we do. DEL
God knows how you’ve got the courage to walk down dark alleys wearing all that gold. When they see you coming you must look like a mugger’s pension scheme. RODNEY to DEL
Dodgy geezer: But Del Boy had some classic gags
Whatever the subject is, Mum had something to say about it on her deathbed. She must’ve spent her final few hours in this mortal realm doing nothing but rabbiting. RODNEY
Asking a Trotter if he knows anything about chandeliers is like asking Mr Kipling if he knows anything about cakes. DEL
I’ve always wanted to go to Benidorm. Where is it? GRANDAD
’Ere Boyce. This car’s a GTI. If you rearrange the letters, you’ve got yourself a personalised number plate. RODNEY
Dear old grandad, bless him. He was about as useful as a pair of sunglasses on a bloke with one ear. DEL
What about the time he was in the Navy, eh? Every single ship he ever sailed on either got torpedoed or dive-bombed… two of ’em in peace time. RODNEY on ALBERT
I don’t know what you’re worried about. I’ve been eating British beef all my life. TRIGGER
Do you remember your cousin Audrey? I went to stay with her and her husband Kevin for a year. One day he sent me down to Sainsbury’s with a shopping list. When I got back, they’d emigrated. ALBERT
You must’ve spent a third of your life standing in front of mirrors. My earliest childhood recollection is of you standing in front of a mirror. Up until I was four, I thought you was twins. RODNEY to DEL
Del: The French have a word for people like me. Rodney: Yeah, the English have a couple of good ’uns an’ all.
He died a couple of years before I was born. TRIGGER on his dad
It’s a well-known fact that 90% of all foreign tourists come from abroad. DEL
What’s the name of that bloke who invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner? TRIGGER
Give my love to Marlene… Everyone else used to. SLATER to BOYCIE