Only Fools and Horses musical heads for West End

Sir David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Lennard Pearce in Only Fools and Horses and Tom Bennett, Ryan Hutton and Paul Whitehouse as they will appear in Only Fools and Horses The MusicalImage copyright
BBC/Trevor Leighton

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Sir David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Lennard Pearce next to their Theatreland equivalents

Lovely jubbly! The heroes of Only Fools and Horses are making a comeback – in a musical version of the classic sitcom.

Co-written by Paul Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan, son of the sitcom’s creator John, it will open at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London in February.

Whitehouse, of The Fast Show fame, will play Grandad opposite Tom Bennett’s Del Boy and Ryan Hutton’s Rodney.

The late Chas Hodges, of Chas and Dave fame, helped compose the show’s 20 new tunes.

The musical – which John Sullivan was working on at the time of his 2011 death – is “fully endorsed” by the late writer’s estate.

Sir David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Lennard Pearce played Derek, Rodney and Grandad Trotter in the long-running series.

Image copyright
Trevor Leighton

Image caption

Whitehouse (right) said the musical would be “very faithful” to the BBC sitcom

Only Fools and Horses The Musical will combine well-known scenes from the original TV shows with “hilarious” new material.

The show will also feature such familiar characters as Boycie, Trigger, Marlene and Denzil.

Set in 1989, the musical will show Del and Rodney finding love with Raquel and Cassandra against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Peckham.

Whitehouse said he and Jim Sullivan had “remained very faithful” to the original’s “feel” while also seeking to “highlight contemporary issues”.

“We’re very conscious of the Only Fools legacy and that it’s so fondly remembered by people of almost all ages,” he continued.

“So we’ve tried to incorporate everyone’s favourite moments from the TV shows and, of course, all the great characters.”

Speaking to the BBC on Monday, Whitehouse said one of his own favourite moments was the scene involving a shattered chandelier in 1982 episode A Touch of Glass.

The famous sequence sees Jason’s Del and Lyndhurst’s Rodney brace themselves to catch a mansion’s falling chandelier, only for Pearce’s Grandad to send another one down the hall plummeting to the ground.

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Youtube post by BBC Studios: Del and Rodney Smash the Chandelier - Only Fools and Horses - BBCImage Copyright BBC Studios
BBC Studios

Whitehouse said it would be “quite tricky” to replicate the gag on stage while pointing out that the Theatre Royal Haymarket sits opposite the current home of The Phantom of the Opera – part of which also involves a falling chandelier.

“Maybe we’ll borrow their chandelier, have it crash down and give it back,” joked the actor, who was recently seen with Sir Michael Caine in crime film King of Thieves.

While most of the show’s score is original, Whitehouse confirmed it would contain a “mash-up” of the two songs that play over Only Fools’ opening and closing credits.

“It’s a brilliant vocal arrangement and it really builds into a proper crescendo,” he told the BBC’s Neil Smith.

“The audience will come in with certain expectations, some of which we’ll dash and some which we’ll fulfil,” he went on.

“We want people to have a good time and think, ‘I’ve just seen a distillation of the show with some of my favourite bits and songs I can almost join in with.'”

The 60-year-old also said he and his co-writer had chosen to include Grandad because he was “a slightly more sympathetic character” than the Trotters’ Uncle Albert.

Grandad was written out of the show after Pearce’s 1984 death in an episode that saw Buster Merryfield – now also deceased – introduced as his seafaring sibling.

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