Somewhere in cyberspace, Batman and Robin are continually jogging through the deserted streets of Peckham, and the London borough will forever be associated with Del and his crew. If you need to raise a smile or get an easy laugh, just mention Peckham; it will likely do the job. Other OFAH-isms- mange tout, plonker, wally, luvly jubbly- enrich the English language still.
The success of the show is deserved. Cast members at the top of their game and superb writing aren't necessarily a winning formula, and it took TV viewers a few series to latch on to the show, but when Only Fools and Horses found its feet, it was incomparable. The characters were so well-drawn that gags sprang organically from the story, and the dialogue was always convincing, no matter how absurd the circumstance. There was rarely any need for a setup or any exposition. The catchphrases weren't thrown in just to get a laugh but were part of the character and were all the funnier and more believable for it.
David Jason - Derek 'Del Boy' Trotter
Still going strong after a career that began in 1964, Sir David Jason hasn't been seen on our screens since Still Open All Hours in 2019, although he has done voice work on several documentary series. Never typecast, Jason has had a rich and diverse career away from Only Fools and Horses, but it is for the role of Del Boy, the dodgy would-be entrepreneur, a fly market trader with yuppie pretensions, that he most remembered. It is impossible to imagine anyone else playing Del Boy, but actor Jim Broadbent was initially considered for the part. Jason has appeared in numerous subsequent productions, both comedic and serious, but his other notable role was his 16-year stint as Detective Inspector Jack Frost after signing a golden handcuffs deal with ITV in 1992. Jason's deadpan fall through the bar hatch in the episode Yuppie Love is considered one of the funniest moments in British comedy.
Classic line: "One of my favorite meals is duck a l’orange, but I don't know how to say that in French."
Nicholas Lyndhurst - Rodney Trotter
Readers of a certain age will remember Lyndhurst playing Wendy Craig's son in the 1970s series Butterflies, but it is playing Del's naive, awkward younger brother Rodney with which Lyndhurst is most associated. Since Only Fools and Horses, Lyndhurst has starred in the spin-off series Rock and Chips, had a six-year run in the time-travelling sitcom Goodnight, Sweetheart (for which he won two National Television Awards), and played it straight in the crime drama series New Tricks. In 2020 Lyndhurst's 19-year-old son Archie died, and although family friends have denied that he has retired, Lyndhurst has not acted since 2019.
Classic line: Talking about Albert - "Every single ship he ever sailed on either got torpedoed or divebombed. Two of them in peacetime!"
Lennard Pearce - Edward 'Grandad' Trotter
Writer John Sullivan enjoyed using the comic effect of the age gap between Del and Rodney and wanted an elderly family member as a co-star to take the family dynamic further. Pearce joined the cast for the first episode in 1981 and played the bedraggled, slightly grimy Grandad. Often the butt of Del and Rodney's jokes or the cause of their consternation. He was Del and Rodney's unwilling drudge doing most of the domestic chores, tasks to which he was wholly unsuited. Pearce died in 1984 while filming the fourth series, aged 69. John Sullivan wrote a special episode featuring Grandad's funeral, which introduced us to the character of Uncle Albert.
Classic line: Grandad on one of his mates deserting during the war - "You couldn't blame him. The way the Germans were carrying on. Someone was gonna get hurt."
Buster Merryfield - Albert 'Uncle Albert' Trotter
Uncle Albert, Grandad's estranged brother, turns up at his funeral and moves in with Del and Rodney. Merryfield, a keen am-dram actor who had not worked professionally, took on the family's old codger role. Like Pearce, he was often the object of Del and jokes Rodney's jokes, and his propensity for telling long rambling stories starting "During the war…" was a running gag. Merryfield died aged 78 in 1999.
Classic line: "During the war, a crewmate of mine, Sky Piggott, died of a sexually related condition… His girlfriend's husband shot him."
Tessa Peake-Jones - Raquel Turner
As the show developed, John Sullivan decided to introduce more female characters, and Raquel, an old flame of Del's, first seen in the 1988 Christmas special, joined the family a year later. Initially, Raquel lacked confidence, but as the series moved forward, she became more confident. Before joining Only Fools and Horses, Peake-Jones had been seen often on British TV appearing in dramas such as The Bill, Bergerac, and Telford's Change. Her last work on screen was in the 2019 film, After Louise and, on TV, in a 2019 episode of Shakespeare and Hathaway. She is married to actor Douglas Hodge who played her son Damien (as an adult).
Classic Line: On Del Boy's jealous nature: "Derek, will you get it into your thick skull? I'm not trying to meet intelligent and sensitive people; I'm happy with you."
Gwyneth Strong - Cassandra Trotter (nee Parry)
Cassandra brought middle-class respectability to the Trotter's world of get-rich-quick scheming, ducking, and dodgy deals. In contrast, she had a high-powered career and was firmly middle-class. Pairing her up with Rodney provided comic opportunities for cultural classes and an additional story arc as the couple struggled to come to terms with each other's way of life. Since the show ended, Strong has had stage and TV roles, most notably as Geraldine Clough, a recurring character in BBC's Eastenders. She has been married to Eldorado and Footballer's Wives actor Jesse Birdsall since 2000.
Classic line: "That's very kind of you, Derek. Rodney's told me all about you, although I must admit I didn't believe him… until now."
Roger Lloyd-Pack - Trigger
Although he's not the sharpest tool in the box, Trigger is a good friend to the Trotters. He makes remarks which are logical but somehow make no sense or that make no sense but are somehow logical. Trigger appeared in the first episode of Only Fools and Horses and became extremely popular with TV audiences. In 1994, Lloyd-Pack joined the cast of The Vicar of Dibley as Owen and appeared in 25 of the 31 episodes. His TV and film CV is extensive, and he continued to work until shortly before his death from pancreatic cancer in 2014.
Classic line: “I got an award from the council for keeping the same broom for 20 years. This old broom has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its time."
John Challis - Boycie
Boycie is selfish, boastful, and mean and considers himself superior. He is a dishonest car salesman seen in a similar carnation in Sullivan's Citizen Smith. Sullivan would again use him and his fictional wife Marlene in the spin-off series The Green Green Grass. Challis was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, but despite this, he appeared regularly on TV in Britain until 2020, even playing Captain Peacock in the one-off revival episode of Are You Being Served. Surprisingly, although the two never met, he became a close Twitter friend of American actor and rapper Ice-T. Challis died aged 79 in 2021.
Classic line: To Marlene - "Come on. Let's go home and ignore each other."
Sue Holderness - Marlene Boyce
Boycie's wife, Marlene, wasn't seen until the fourth series in 1985, although she had been alluded to, and it was implied (much to Boycie's chagrin) that she'd had relationships with all the Nags Head regulars. Holdenhurst has worked consistently since Only Fools and Horses, in the spin-off sitcom series The Green Green Grass and in stalwart British TV series’ including Casualty, The Bill, and Eastenders.
Classic line: As Boycie bends to speak to the baby - "Don't get your face too close; it scares him."
Paul Barber - Denzil Tulser
Denzil, usually to his disadvantage, is Del Boy's mate. A lorry driver from Liverpool, he is frequently involved in Del's schemes and often duped by him. The actor got his first significant role in 1974 and has appeared in TV and film comedies and dramas through to the present. Besides Only Fools and Horses, Barber is best known as Barrington 'Horse' Mitchell in the hit 1997 film The Full Monty. He is soon to be seen in the British crime action thriller Renegades.
Classic line: About a potential date - "We might go out, get to know each other a bit, you know. They might like each other then - who knows? - in time, maybe she might do some ironing for me."
Kenneth MacDonald - Mike Fisher
Mike Fisher was the landlord of the Nags Head. After a supposedly one-off appearance in an earlier episode, he featured in the series from 1983 to 1996. He is none too bright and is often on the receiving end of Del's attempts to sell duff or stolen goods. Actor Kenneth MacDonald was already familiar thanks to his role as Gunner Nobby Clark in It Ain't Half Hot Mum. He had also worked on stage and had minor TV roles. He died suddenly in 2001 at 50 from a massive heart attack, with his absence from the show explained by his imprisonment for trying to embezzle the brewery.
Classic line: "I remember me and my missus. I had 18 blissfully happy years, and then I met her."
Patrick Murray - Mickey Pearce
Mickey is a jack-the-lad, a spiv, and a mate of Rodney's. He also often relieves him of his girlfriends and the money from their various business partnerships. Murray was already a familiar face before joining the cast of Only Fools and Horses after appearing in the films Scum and Quadrophenia. He has become well-known for his supporting roles and for appearing in ads for Zanussi home appliances. Murray has been inactive since 2018 as he suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Classic line: To two young ladies in the pub, when trying to get their attention: "Oi!"
Roy Heather - Sid
Sid was not a regular member of the show until he took over the Nags Head after Mike Fisher's imprisonment - the storyline used to explain the loss of Kenneth Macdonald in 2001. He had appeared occasionally as the owner of an especially greasy 'greasy spoon' that Del sometimes frequented. Heather was a familiar face on TV, one of the stock actors who popped up playing minor supporting roles in British productions like The Bill, Casualty, and Birds of a Feather. Heather died in 2014, aged 79.
Classic line: "I've been closed down for a lot worse than that" - after Denzil finds a hair in his porridge.