Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses legend Nicholas Lyndhurst’s ‘forgotten’ sitcom where his hair looked nothing like Rodney’s

Nicholas played yet another younger brother in the BBC series

Most people will recognise Nicholas Lyndhurst from his days as Rodney on Only Fools and Horses but before he was being driven around in the Reliant Regal he played a big character in another BBC sitcom.

Nicholas played yet another younger brother in the BBC series Butterflies written by Carla Lane. The show aired for four seasons from 1978 to 1983, meaning it overlapped with the start of Only Fools and Horses which first aired in 1981.

He played Adam, the youngest son of frustrated housewife Ria (Wendy Craig) and dentist Ben (Geoffrey Palmer). The show focused mainly on Ria’s midlife crisis but often featured subplots around Adam and his older brother Russell (Andrew Hall.).

Nicholas Lyndhurst in April 2019
Nicholas Lyndhurst in April 2019 (Image: Ian West/PA Wire)

Storylines involving Adam and Russell often explored the difficulties faced by young men coming of age in the UK at a time when there were dwindling employment opportunities. The boys often annoyed their father with their rebellious attitudes.

Nicholas also sported a very 1970’s bowl haircut for a lot of the show, looking miles apart from his more widely recognised character Rodney. As time went on the hair became less extreme – although in one episode he did sport a poodle perm.

Butterflies returned for a Christmas special in 1982 and a Children in Need special in 2000. There were plans for an American remake in 1979 but the show never made it past the pilot. Speaking about his time on Butterflies, Nicholas told New Zealand news website Stuff: “It was one of the happiest jobs I’ve ever been on.” The show ended up being a landmark sitcom of the 1970’s.

Nicholas Lyndhurst as Rodney in Only Fools and Horses with Del Boy and Grandad
Nicholas Lyndhurst was 20 when Only Fools and Horses started airing (Image: BBC)

Nicholas’ other big role was in the BBC time travel sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart from 1993 to 1999 (overlapping with the tail end of Only Fools and Horses). He played main character Gary Sparrow who regularly went back and forth between his time period and 1940’s wartime Britain.

The actor then went on to play Jimmy Venables in After You’ve Gone and Dan Griffin in New Tricks. In 2019, he played the Governor in Man of La Mancha for English National Opera at the London Coliseum opposite Kelsey Grammer.

In the same year he appeared alongside his late son Archie Lyndhurst in an episode of the CBBC show So Awkward. Nicholas moved out of the spotlight following the devastating loss of his 19-year-old son in September 2020 but a rep confirmed in January 2022 that he had not retired.

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