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Only Fools And Horses: Christmas Crackers

Only Fools And Horses: Christmas Crackers

By Patrick Samuel • December 8th, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Original airdate: December 28th, 1981
Running time: 36 minutes

Director: Bernard Thompson
Writer: John Sullivan

Cast:David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Lennard Pearce

Only Fools And Horses

I don’t recall when it was exactly but I have the feeling it was in the late 80s when we started watching Only Fools And Horses. It was one of those rare shows we could sit down together as a family and enjoy, unlike Dynasty, Dallas and Knots Landings; shows that were always filled with extra-marital romping that quickly got me sent up to bed before they started. This one however was more about life and the constant struggle to stay afloat.

Set in Peckham, South London, on a housing estate called Nelson Mandela House, Only Fools And Horses introduced us to two brothers. Del Boy Trotter (David Jason), the market trader, was always working a get-rich-quick scheme. Seeing himself as a yuppie (Young Urban Professional), he carried a filofax around, smoked cigars and ordered the most ridiculous drinks because he thought they were trendy. His younger brother Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst) was academically and morally the better of the two. He helped Del Boy with his stall and was always getting suckered into his schemes. They shared their flat with their elderly Granddad (Lennard Pearce) who mostly cooked meals and kept the flat tidy. He did neither of those things very well.

As a sit-com Only Fools And Horses always gave us a laugh but there was something else about it too. We were a family of nine, occasionally ten, living in a two bedroom house and severely struggling to get by on limited resources. Milk tokens, school dinner tickets and vouchers for school uniforms helped supplement the rations of income support and money earned from the part time work by my older brothers. Yes, we could’ve done with a bit more but the kids always had their three meals and that was the main thing.

Only Fools And Horses

The show was a way relieving some of those troubles and tensions and because the Trotters were always hanging on by their last string, we knew exactly where they were coming from. We could laugh and cry with them all the way, whatever they were going through. With a glint in his eye and a scheme up his sleeve, “This time next year we’ll be millionaires!” Del boy would say. That’s what my Dad would say as well, and this as our first year without him makes me look back on Only Fools And Horses and remember how much he loved it.

The show’s first ever Christmas episode was aired a few days after Christmas Day on December 28th, 1981. We caught it many years later as a re-run during the festive period. I remember sitting with my parents, my brothers and their little kids. We watched it while munching on roasted nuts, wafers and bumper packs of custard cream biscuits they sold at Safeway (now Morrisons).

Granddad was making Christmas dinner for Del Boy and Rodney but neither of them seemed very keen. In fact, they were worried about how it was going to turn out. Still, it was their role to support him as much as it’s his role to muck-up the dinner. Afterwards Del Boy argues with Rodney who’s bored and wants to go out. They can’t Only Fools And Horsesleave Granddad all alone on Christmas night while they go out and enjoy themselves so they have to stay in. While arguing, they haven’t noticed that Granddad’s actually ready to go out – that leaves them free to hit whatever nightclub might be open.

Spotting a couple of women they might have a chance with, Del Boy tries to get Rodney to go and chat them up, mostly because he’s tired of standing around and there aren’t any free tables left. This half of the episode is just as hilarious as the first, showing off David Jason’s comedic timing which is priceless when paired up with Nicholas Lyndhurst facial expressions.

Christmas Crackers is like many of the show’s episodes; brilliantly written and well acted. While it doesn’t have the over-sentimentality that you might find in shows like Cheers or Three’s Company, its cynicism is played nicely with these all-too-human characters, making it one of Britain’s best loved and deeply missed shows together with Porridge and Steptoe and Son. 30 years on it’s as fresh as ever, and wow, it really brings back so many memories too!

Patrick Samuel

Patrick Samuel

The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is an emerging artist with a philosophy degree, working primarily with pastels and graphite pencils, but he also enjoys experimenting with water colours, acrylics, glass and oil paints.

Being on the autistic spectrum with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is stimulated by bold, contrasting colours, intricate details, multiple textures, and varying shades of light and dark. Patrick's work extends to sound and video, and when not drawing or painting, he can be found working on projects he shares online with his followers.

Patrick returned to drawing and painting after a prolonged break in December 2016 as part of his daily art therapy, and is now making the transition to being a full-time artist. As a spokesperson for autism awareness, he also gives talks and presentations on the benefits of creative therapy.

Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and science fiction, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.

Patrick Samuel ¦ Asperger Artist

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