Tariq, why don't you call me Dave? My name's not Dave. My name's Rodney. I thought it was Dave.
You sure you're a.. I've looked it up on my birth certificate, passport and everything is definitely Rodney. Oh, well, you live and learn. So what was Dave nicknamed you? The only one who calls me Dave. Everybody else calls me Rodney. And the reason they call me Rodney is because Rodney is my name.
Well, you'll have to get used to calling you Rodney. So are you going to get this meeting started with Dave and go north? The unmistakeable sound of only fools and horses, which is the latest in our series of Boxed, where John Farley takes a look at the most important and binge worthy shows in television history. John, good morning.
Good morning. What not do the soul. Good to hear. Absolutely.
I listen to that clip earlier this morning and I laughed then. And then I heard it again on my last second time. It's it's terrific.
That's the sign of great comedy writing when even though you know what's coming, you can laugh again. And this is why, you know, my wife comes in sometimes and she goes, oh, not only fools again. How many times have you watched this? Because I, I watch it on gold all the time and I make that point to her, you know, funny is funny and it doesn't get old, even if you know what the punchline is.
Tell me how it was created, how it came about and you know what its prospects were at the beginning. Yeah.
John Sullivan is this fascinating character who created it and that he was, you know, not a college educated guy. He worked in the motor trade, but he had a lot of Dickens ever since he was a kid in school and had an English teacher that took, you know, a shine to him. And and that's how his writing came about. And he eventually worked as a props man and the BBC and then approached someone, you know, a head guy when he was working on props and handed him different scripts.
And he had a script for a great show called Citizen Smith, which ran really well. And then they gave him carte blanche to go off and do something else. And he came up with only fools. But it wasn't really a success. You know, people kind of forget probably well into the mid 80s, the first two series almost bombed. It's fair to say they'd have their expected viewership for a primetime sitcom, oddly enough, in a repeat schedule of the second summer of it's showing, it seemed to pick up and then the wind got behind it.
And then fast forward 15 years. And the Christmas special in 1996 to this day is the most watched TV show in British history, twenty four point three million. Now, we've had a comedy from that arena before, Stepto, and some very funny comedy on a serious note, you've got EastEnders looking at that kind of Emilio as well.
But Jon Sullivan wanted to portray, if you like, that the crack that exists and and that kind of life. You know, the guys who are living on the edge and maybe not the straightest.
And then the catalogue he said he wanted, you know, it almost to sound like pubs and Peckham. And, you know, he made a good point. There was a character called Denzel who's, you know, only fools and horses, had these great cast of characters like Trager, who we heard there. But he was saying, you know, whenever BBC did London shows back in the early 80s, there was never black people in the pub. So he wanted to do what he felt was bonafied, a cockney.
But but aside from, you know, having black people and making it real, he also wanted it to be really, really funny because he grew up in South London.
And he said, in a way, it was like Stand-Up every day. There was all these characters everywhere you went. And really that's what he was signing into. But you see, aside from all that, you know, there's any aspiring TV writer out there, what I think only Fools has that is the key to any successful sitcom and had it more than anything was it became so much more than just the concept of the show.
The concept of the show was these two brothers who loved each other but also drove each other mad with a serious age gap. One of them was a wheeler dealer. The other was a bit gormless. And then they had a grandfather and latterly an uncle who came to live with them. But after a couple of years of the show, that was secondary to kind of the love and adoration people had for the characters. Like, you know, when Rodney goes off and gets married and Dale is left in the wedding reception staring into space when simply Red is playing, it's heartbreaking.
I was watching it the other day in preparation for this and I was getting choked up. Only fools, aside from the laughs, had such heart and such. We cared so much for those characters by the end of it, you know, let's hear another clip then.
What is this one? Well, I just there were so many clips and I'm sure people be texting and playing. Oh, you should have played this one. You should have played that one. This is just a great example of how the Trotters behave together.
This is when Dale was going off on a date with a woman who would become Rockwell. And all he knew about her was she was an actress and Rodney was also going off on a date.
I thought, you know. Well, you better hurry up and get changed. The. I am challenged on that.
What's wrong with me, who you look like an arrogant is the fashion and you read about it is called the James Dean Look.
Yeah, but when they said the James Dean look, they met before the crash.
I can't see you again very far without Larry Bird dressed like that. Oh, you just keep it out. Roy, let me leave my own life, right.
Maybe she goes for blokes who look like Barney Rubble.
Oh, you got. I am going out. Well, we often change our title times down a little bit.
Oh, I am wearing these clothes. Yeah. We're tight and scrappy. Dubois' got that and not just for the world famous actress. So is it anyway, Meryl Streep?
No record, Elton. Are you kidding me? No, Shrout. They recall turno. Oh, yeah, have you heard of her? No. She'd been in anything. Yes, loads of things, but nothing that you would have seen her in Rodney. And what's that supposed to mean? She has not been on top of the Pops or a pizza Batman.
Some of the texts coming in, I was thinking, you know, it wouldn't stand the test sometimes today and this one here, the episode where the chandelier goes crashing to the ground is one of the funniest ever. I've seen it 100 times. Still makes me laugh. Only phones and horses was epic and extremely funny, but also extremely racist to black and Irish community. Lots of gags aimed at them. So it hasn't dated. Well, another one, the chandelier.
Again, it seems to be people's favourite scene. That's from Paul in Dublin seven.
It probably couldn't be made in that form today, do you think, because of the PC culture that exists?
Yeah. And look, you know, this is another debate like we can't necessarily stop watching it just because it has some unpleasant episodes. You know, and there was a famous episode that they really did know that they took out the word Pocky. So absolutely.
I mean, there was it couldn't be made now, but, you know, there was still a you know, despite that they did kind of modern looking episodes for the 80s as well, like the Rosewarne actually was in the early 90s. A famous one about Dalle comes across some dolls and they turned out to be sex dolls and then they're contained explosives and they used to borrow satellites.
And and also what they did in their defence was that they were prepared to mix it up and they brought in female characters into the Rodney and Dale stronghold. And Rodney gets married to Cassandra and then Dale meets Raquel. So they did broaden it out over its lifetime as well. But certainly there were elements certainly in the area, episodes that would not pass now, nor should they.
Yeah, well, that's the question. I mean, do you stop watching Fawlty Towers because of don't mention the war?
No, no, I don't think you do, because there would be no artwork's left.
You know, Caravaggio killed a man, as I always tell people, you know.
Yeah, well, besides all of that, tell me about Screen Time, which airs on Saturdays. Between six and seven aren't available as a podcast from Fridays at five. What have you got?
Yeah. So this week I had the great Irish actress people know from Love, Hate and Peaky Blinders. Charlie Murphy. She's in a new movie called The Winter League and a fascinating documentary on Netflix this weekend, all about the college admissions scandal in the States a couple of years ago with the director, Chris Smith, who did the Fire documentary a couple of years ago. So a busy show.
Busy show. John Farley, presenter of Screen Time, thank you very much for joining us.