John Sullivan one of British TV‘s most popular and successful comedy writers died this week aged 64. He lost a long battle against viral pneumonia spending the last six weeks in intensive care.
Only Fools and Horses is regularly voted in polls as the the greatest British sitcom of all time. It ran from 1981 to 1991 but continued in Christmas specials right into the new millennium. The 1996 special Time On Our Hands, was billed as the final episode and saw lead character, Del Boy Trotter, come good on his ambition to make himself and Rodney millionaires (always pronounced mullionaires). It was watched by more than 24 million people, a record for a sitcom in the UK.
But the demand by the viewing public for follow-ups saw Sullivan eventually return to the story of the Trotters from 2001 for occasional Christmas specials. I must say, from a personal point of view, the show regularly included scenes that literally had me crying with laughter. Who could forget Del Boy‘s fall in a wine bar when trying to impress some Yuppie young ladies. The chandelier scene when Del had convinced some Lord of the Manor that he, Rodney and Grandad were experts at cleaning vintage chandeliers. And the entire episode when Del Boy won a trip to Spain after he entered one of Rodney‘s old paintings in a cereal box competition for under 13′s. Rodney had to spend the entire holiday pretending he was Del Boy and his own girlfriend Cassandra‘s son and join in all the games set up for the teenagers.
But Only Fools and Horses was not John Sullivan‘s only success, he also wrote Citizen Smith which ran from 1977 to 1980. The story of a wannabe revolutionary in Tooting, South London, that launched Robert Lindsay into the limelight, but then plagued him for the rest of his life with the catch phrase “Power to the People”
In 1983 Sullivan wrote Just Good Friends, the story of lovers Penny and Vince who rekindle their relationship, five years after he left her at the alter. Just Good Friends also ran for 3 years and was highly successful.
The third and final episode of John Sullivan‘s latest work Rock & Chips, a prequel to Only Fools and Horses, telling the story of Del Boy‘s early life, will be shown on BBC One in the UK on Thursday. Let’s hope we get to see it in Australia soon.
Now, it is my belief that John Sullivan sang the theme tune to Only Fools and Horses, but I have not confirmed that. But even if he didn’t, it is a good note to leave him on. Rest In Peace John Sullivan. I know you will provide some laughs wherever you go next.
Click below for DVD’s of Only Fools and Horses