Only Fools and Horses

The Only Fools and Horses episode in which the writer of the show appeared in disguise

There was a one-off episode of the 80s sitcom in which John Sullivan appeared in disguise

It’s not often a writer gets to spontaneously star in their own TV show – unless they wrote themselves in from the off. Only Fools and Horses creator John Sullivan was a writer through-and-through, and by no means an actor. But there was a one-off episode of the 80s sitcom in which he appeared in disguise.

‘Time on Our Hands’ became the third and final part of the 1996 Only Fools and Horses Christmas Trilogy when it aired on December 27, 1996. This was originally supposed to be the final episode in the series – which perhaps explains why Sullivan chose to grant the Trotters their lifelong dream in it…

After years of wheeler-dealing, dodgy plots and market trading to try to make their million, the Trotters finally became millionaires in this episode. The plot unfolds following a visit from an antiques dealer, who spots an old watch, an apparently lost heirloom belonging to a famous maritime clockmaker in the Trotters’ house.

John Sullivan appeared in the pub scene in ‘Time on Our Hands’ (Image: BBC)

The Trotters take the semi-mythical accessory to auction at Sotheby’s, where Del faints upon hearing an opening bid for £150,000. The watch eventually sells for more than £6 million. The newly-rich Trotters’ receive a standing ovation from regulars upon their return to the Nag’s Head, and proceed to splurge their wealth on a mansion and a boat for Albert, which he promptly crashes into a bridge on the Thames.

Amongst all the madness of the episode, you may have missed a new character sat in a group of drinkers at a table in the Nag’s Head, at the beginning of the pub scene. But this was actually John Sullivan, according to IMDB, in the only appearance he ever made in the series.

Only Fools and Horses was the crowning glory of a successful sitcom-writing and BAFTA-winning career for Sullivan, who had been born into a working-class family in South London and worked a variety of low-paid jobs for 15 years until he got his first break writing sketches for The Two Ronnies. Sullivan died on April 22, 2011.

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