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As you all will know by now, my twin passions are Music and Comedy. So it’s with a heavy heart I note that the creator and writer of the best British Sitcom of the last 30 years (actually probably all time), John Sullivan, has died at the cruely young age of 64.

Only Fools and Horses was a masterpiece of British Comedy, the episode which has Del Boy and Rodney finally becoming Millionaires was watched by 24 million people.

Like all the best British comedy, it was about Class and unlike much American comedy, was character driven. the characters were totally believable, we have all met or know people like Del Boy, Rodney, Grandad, Trigger and Boycie (Del Boy always reminded me of my late Father in law), they are all right from the central casting of British culture.

Sullivan always seemed to be in touch with Zeitgeist of the time. In Del Boy he created the man for the moment, a working class ducking and diving asperational Thatcherite. A man who was going to buy his Council House if he could. A man who had a dream and despite all the dodgy goods that had fallen off the back of a lorry, that he and Rodney would flog down the market, he was also a deeply moral man.

Sullivan, some will also remember, created Wolfie Smith, in Citizen Smith another series that chimed perfectly with the times. A barmy Che Guevara fantasist, and leader of the Tooting Popular Front.It launched the career of Robert Lindsay, who can now be found wasting his time in that excerable piece of shite, The Family.

Here is a clip of one of the funniest moments from the series, but please you out of UKers, just click on any one of the clips there, an be prepared to wet yourself, it is sheer comedy genius.

Farewell then John, and thanks for all the laughs. Your work, like that other populist that has passed the test of time, Shakespeare, will live forever.

9 Comments

  1. NickM says:

    RAB,
    Not to bleat but that could do with a bit of proofing (Yeah, I know, me saying that!). And categories RAB!

  2. RAB says:

    Sheesh, picky bleeder! Happier now? I usually have Sub Editor flunkies for this sort of thing you know! ;-)

    And yes there should be an “e” before the “i” in Zeitgeist, I did change it but it didn’t come out for some reason.

    But sorry about the Tags/ categories, I always forget those in my nervous rush to post, I will take more care in future Boss.

  3. Sam Duncan says:

    So do I, RAB. And (since, as I said in my last one, all my posts that actually get published are written on the spur of the moment) there’s always something I remember I should have put in within seconds of logging out. It’s a bugger sometimes, this Cat Counting.

    Anyway, yes, Sullivan will be missed. Maybe F&H maybe outstayed its welcome a bit; you could argue it leaped the big fish a bit when Rodney got married, but that’s the pickiest of nit-picking. Fact is, it’s as much part of what it is to be British as strong tea and interminable drizzle. And the theme song’s a classic.

  4. RAB says:

    All series outlive their maximum Sam, and spin offs are almost always a no no!

    I was fine with Rodney getting married, there was a lot of bathos and pathos in F&H which made it all the more real for all of us viewers, not just a laughline every 30 seconds. Sullivan should have stopped after the Harrison watch episode though, most definately. But it’s the public pressure innit? Even Conan Doyle had to bring Sherlock Holmes back after killing him off cos he was sick of him.

    Green Green Grass was pretty dreadful though, with Boycie and Marleen fleeing to the country. It quickly got filled up with Vicar of Dibley type bucolic nutters, and lost the plot entirely. But then Sullivan only wrote the first series of that before lesser writers took it over, so only a little blame there.

    I hope the Beeb repeat all the F&H series, but I won’t be holding my breath. Del Boy was an aspirant, a grafter and a Thatcherite, and working class folks must never be seen to be that according to BBC marxist Holy creed.

  5. JuliaM says:

    “All series outlive their maximum Sam…”

    ‘Fawlty Towers’..?

  6. NickM says:

    I think Fawlty Towers did live it’s stint. I think of it as a miniature rather than a fresco.

    I don’t think it could have been spun out further because with the exception of Polly who is the gravitational centre of it all the rest of the characters are all grotesques in extremely eccentric orbits. There is only so far you can take that.

    F&H survived a number of potential shark-jumps – Leonard Pierce (Grandad) dying, Rodney and Del’s weddings, the birth of Damien (close call) and grew with them. That was it’s strength. And it had that strength through having extremely believable characters. Even Trigger’s trademark “Hi Dave!” was based upon someone Sullivan had known.

  7. RAB says:

    Faulty Towers was the exception that proves the rule. After the rat and the hotel inspector finale, there was nowhere to take it was there? Perfect ending with the implicit closure of the Hotel.

    But I’m sure Cleese could have been persuaded to do just one more series had he not been breaking up with Connie Booth, wife and writing partner at the same time.

    Poor old Cleesey has turned into a bit of a prat and a caricature of himself over the years hasn’t he? His obsession with grasping American birds (apart from Connie, who didn’t want a penny from the divorce).

    Those dreadful ads for the AA (Faulty Showers?) and the stand up tour, all in a desperate attempt to get some money back.

    Saw him in the street in Bath with his new squeeze (30 years younger) about a month ago. No fool like an old fool eh?

  8. Lynne says:

    My favourite moment was when this heavily pregnant German girl went into labour on Del’s couch. Rodders had gone for help and Del tried to comfort the poor lass. Unfortunately the only German he knew was vorsprung durch technik

  9. mike says:

    … and fluent-in-German, Uncle Albert stepped in with “VOT IS YOUR NAME?”

    The early episodes were the best ones.

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