Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses: Why is it called that, why did they stop making episodes and why is it so popular in Serbia

Most people are unaware of the show's popularity in Serbia

Since it first aired in 1981 starring the likes of David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Lennard Pearce as the Trotter brothers, Only Fools and Horses has been a staple of British television. Writer John Sullivan penned the series after the BBC turned down his proposal of a football themed sitcom in 1980.

Many people wonder ‘where did the iconic name come from’, something John Sullivan addressed back in 1998. He said: “said: “I always thought longer titles grab people’s eyes and obviously I wanted to make viewers very aware of us.

“I liked the idea of calling the show Only Fools and Horses from the old expression ‘only fools and horses work’, because Del’s main aim in life is to not work, and yet he scurries around til eleven at night working his socks off not to work. The man himself is a contradiction. So I wanted to call it that and Jimmy Gilbert said: What does it mean? ‘Oh it’s a London saying.’ In the end we found out it was an American saying from Vaudeville theatre days that came over here through music halls.”

John Challis was a huge part of the series (Image: Ian West/PA Wire)

But tragically the series was scrapped in 2003 after the cast received devastating news. What many fans might be unaware of is that one last episode of the show had been planned before writer John Sullivan became very ill and tragically died before the episode could come to fruition.

Actor John Challis, who used to play second hand car-dealer Boycie on the show revealed that the episode would have seen Del Boy retired as a millionaire drinking in the Nag’s Head.

The cast were excited for the reunion according to the now 78-year-old Challis, but never got the chance to do it. He told The Sun : “The 30th anniversary was coming up and John was in the process of getting together a Christmas special or something.

“It was going to be Del Boy’s 65th birthday, he was going to retire and there was going to be a bit of a get-together in the Nag’s Head. But unfortunately he (John) got ill and didn’t come out of it.”

He added: “It was a complete shock to everybody. We got a phone call from the producers giving us the bad news.”

What some people may find downright bizarre is that the legendary series is immensely popular in Serbia. According to John Challis, the popularity stems from the show getting the residents through the terrible wars in the 1990s.

He told The Sun : “I was told it was the only thing that made them laugh during the terrible wars in the Nineties. I suddenly had this picture of these poor beleaguered people in bombed-out buildings watching Del Boy and the rest of the gang and laughing their heads off. I thought, ‘This is ridiculous’.”

Cast members during the filming of the “Only Fools and Horses” Christmas Special “The Jolly Boys’ Outing” in Margate. 18th May 1989.

He added: [When he visited]“I felt like a pop star, it was extraordinary. They kept asking me where Marlene was.”

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