Rock and Chips gives Only Fools and Horses some heart back

The very idea of a prequel to Only Fools And Horses is a staggeringly awful one. You could almost picture it couldn’t you? Terrible knees-up-muvver-braahning and watching the birth of a clutch of catchphrases, all crowbarred into a clunky retrofest, filled with Carry On style looks at swinging London and all that rubbish. However…

Rock and Chips (BBC One, Sunday, 24 January, 9pm) was indeed a prequel to Del Falling Through The Bar. It was supremely cock-er-nee and definitely an idea of a London gone-by, essentially, the Capital shot through the memory of Peggy Mitchell – all close-knit families and everyone looking after their own.

However, as much as I braced myself to hate Rock and Chips, I couldn’t. You see, what actually unfurled was a show that wasn’t particularly funny at all and was all the better for it.

It’s easy to forget just how good Only Fools and Horses was when on form. It’s almost fashionable to slate it these days, thanks to endless tributes on a million nostalgia recap shows. It’s easy to forget that, at some point, pretty much all of us have had a bloody good belly laugh when watching Del, Rodney & Co.

That’s because, underneath all that bravado and rhyming slang was a show that held deep wells of pain and a touching fondness within each character. It was this element that this old-new show looked at.

Of course, there were some cheap gags (it wouldn’t be a TV representation of working class London without ’em… and quite right too), but for the most part, it was a very sweet and gentle outing.

A young Del (played by that little shit from The Inbetweeners) was portrayed as a bugger who wanted to do right by his mum. However, this wasn’t about Derek Trotter, but rather, his mum. His much fabled ‘dear ol’ mum’ who loomed large over the sitcom that ran for a thousand years.

She was a sensitive soul with a frankly shitty husband. She dreamed beyond the houses in her eyes and… well… got off with Rodney’s dad, who happens to be able to wax lyrical about art and music.

This vehicle, tried and tested to the point of breaking, worked rather well and provided a lovely backdrop to the comedy half the world came to love. Think Shirley Valentine, with it’s stolen romance and big talk that could never bear fruit.

As my expectations were astonishingly low, I actually ended up enjoying Rock and Chips rather a lot (and it’s excellent soundtrack). That said, it was far too long and would’ve been better if split across two 45 minute showings.

If you went in search of laughs, then you may have been disappointed… if you want a comfortable blanket of a drama, then this should tick a fair few boxes. A rather nice surprise all told.

About the author

I'm Mof Gimmers.

I've been writing about TV for a long time. I love it and loathe it in equal measures. I'm pretty sure the TV feels the same away about me too.
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  • OldAndPastItJohn

    It was rubbish, the writing was poor, it was unrealistic, even for OFAH and the parts where it tried to be funny, it failed. John Sullivan has lost his touch, even resorting to using old jokes he didn’t write (such as the coffee “It was instant” one and others).It was unoriginal, and John has profited from funnier people (the jokes were not his) – he was once a funny man, but sadly he lost that title after he wrote the episode after Time On Our Hands and destroyed a legendary show. Not content with that, he wrote the woeful Green Green Grass, and finally this dreadful Rock And Chips. I can’t believe it has taken him over five years to write this piece of rubbish! Give up John, your comedy writing days are over. It wasn’t even a decent drama. Give up the writing (comedy, drama or otherwise) and retire gracefully instead of churning out woeful shows that the BBC waste license payers money on just because you ONCE wrote a good sitcom!

  • Anonymously submitted

    I really liked Rock and Chips. At first I was unsure of the actor casting of Del Boy…and to be honest, he didn’t really shine the way “Del Boy” should. But after about 10 minutes, I settled into the story and was enjoying trying to remember who was whom, flicking back and forth the the internet to remind myself of the different characters and seeing what the original actors were doing now.

    I was very disappointed to find out today that it was only a one off. I thought the ending was just a set up for the next episode. I think it would have been better as a one off miniseries instead of just one episode. But thank you BBC for putting it on at all!

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