Gregg Nunney: A reason why Only Fools is so popular

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Why has Only Fools and Horses become such a national treasure?

You can still catch episode after episode on Gold, whether it’s the early ones with gruff Grandad or those later gems with Uncle Albert.

John Challis, AKA Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, was a big hit at the Masque theatre, says Gregg

John Challis, AKA Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, was a big hit at the Masque theatre, says Gregg

Other sitcoms from the 70s and 80s are repeated of course but they’re not revered in the same way as Fools and Horses.

You don’t see, for example, another John Sullivan classic, Citizen Smith, quite as much.

Somewhere across the decades this show crossed the line between great sitcom and cultural phenomenon and last week I managed to experience the effect it still has first-hand.

I booked John Challis, AKA Boycie, to bring his one-man show to the Masque Theatre in Barton Seagrave last Friday, and the packed audience that came to watch him were lapping up every vignette and every story.

My personal favourite tale involved a chance bumping in to Tom Baker on the street in London and a man having to double take at Boycie doing a Jimmy Stewart impression for Doctor Who...!

I’ve been lucky enough in my life to have met some fascinating people – pop stars, soap stars, politicians, Bond girls, incarnations of The Doctor and their companions – but I’m always pleasantly surprised when one of them turns out to be a genuinely nice person, and that’s exactly what happened with John Challis.

Because those repeats are on so often we still imagine him to be 40, yet John, in his 70s, still takes time and effort to see the fans of the show, and even quote his famous catchphrases.

So maybe that’s why Only Fools has endured, there really was something for everyone.

Each member of the ensemble cast brought something different to the programme and, judging by the applause and laughter I heard last Friday night, some of them still are.