When one discusses Christmas television there are a few moments which instantly appear in the public consciousness. Dirty Den delivering divorce papers. Alice giving birth during a nativity performance. A Christmas tree smashing it’s way through the Tyler residence. And a bloody bus explosion.
Yes, ‘The Jolly Boy’s Outing’ is perhaps the greatest Christmas special ever produced. Certainly no other episode of Only Fools and Horses comes close. It does everything needed – it’s laced with humour and smart one-liners (Trigger: ‘What d’you think’s wrong with him?’; Mike: ‘What do I think? Well, snow-blindness would be my bet, Trig.’; Trigger: ‘Yeah? I thought he was pissed.’), it has a sense of purpose and storylines are developed.
Several iconic Only Fools and Horses scenes appear in this episode – the Trivial Pursuit scene and Del thinking a female duck is called a bic, Del the yuppie, the aforementioned bus exploding in Margate, Uncle Albert being struck by Del’s rock. Everybody remembers those scenes. But Only Fools and Horses frequently excelled in Christmas specials – indeed its latter dozen episodes are all billed as Christmas specials – and produced many blinding episodes. As such it is unsurprising that the show is repeated tirelessly this time of year.
Only Fools and Horses did everything a Christmas special needs. Indeed Del and Rodney earned millions in one of the last episode produced – and lost it all merely an episode later. But who can forget Trotters Crash Turbans (or T.I.T.), or Rodney applying for his own job and Del’s outlandish interview questions, or Del’s stalker, or Rodney dressing as a Roman soldier or … oh, you get the picture. Many iconic scenes were produced over the intervening years. It doesn’t necessarily need to be Christmas to settle down for these episodes, but they certainly fill one with festive spirit and feel-good humour.
Only Fools and Horses is ingrained upon the British psyche, and for good reason. The show contained a core cast of characters whom viewers wanted to succeed – even Boycie. Del was beloved for his ‘get rich quick’ schemes; Rodney was loved for his unlucky-in-love stance – even after falling in love with Cassandra; and Uncle Albert was adored for his numerous tales of life ‘during the war’.
If you see a repeat of Only Fools and Horses on Gold this festive season (and trust us, you most certainly will) settle down with a glass of Malibu and tonic with some lime and prepare to chuckle relentlessly. Don’t be a plonker about it.