ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES ARTICLE:
5 reasons why ofah was the top sitcom.
By scott valentine.
Throughout the decades, many sitcoms have been broadcast that have captured the Great British public’s hearts. Although, none have captured quite so many as John Sullivan’s Only Fools and Horses.
It’s a show of immense quality that has stood the test of time and has become the benchmark by which all future Sitcoms are compared, only a mere few have come even remotely close to its legendary status.
Below is a compiled countdown of five reasons – why Only Fools and Horses was the top Sitcom.
They say in comedy timing is everything, the show initially broadcast it’s first episode in 1981, a time that is considered the end of the golden age of Sitcoms, which could easily define an era spanning through the 60’s and 70’s, the list of quality TV shows in that era consists of, STEPTOE AND SON, ARE YOU BEING SERVED, PORRIDGE, SOME MOTHERS DO HAVE EM and of the fabled FAULTY TOWERS starring Monty Python’s John Cleese.
The beginning of the eighties signaled the arrival of alternative comedy, shows such as THE YOUNG ONE’S and THE COMIC STRIP PRESENTS, were being produced by a new breed of comedian’s and although OFAH was relatively new at the time, the show basked in a nostalgic warmth, it’s a charm that’s helped to captivate audiences from the first series to the last special.
4) SOUTH LONDON.
Having grown up in a small welsh town on the border of north Wales, the larger than life characters of OFAH seemed a universe away from “real” life and almost took on a cartoon-ish persona. It wasn’t until 1999, aged Nineteen that I got the fortunate opportunity to travel down to South London for a month’s work in Peckham.
On my reflection of the duration of the stay it’s easy to appreciate the way of life that John Sullivan must have encountered on a daily basis during a humble up bringing in south London. South London is bustling with wheelers, dealers and geezer’s, John’s uncanny ability for human observation of the people from such a socially active area could have proved to be a catalyst for the creation of his brilliant characters.
3) CHARLES DICKENS.
It’s no secret that John Sullivan was a fan of the work of the great English writer; Charles Dickens, who’s work includes such notable masterpieces such as OLIVER TWIST and A CHRISTMAS CAROL both of which have never been out of print. Charles dickens also observed the complex English mannerisms of the public then portrayed elegantly through his creations.
John Sullivan proved to be a maestro of making his character believable to the viewer, no matter how ludicrous the situation they often found themselves in, this alarming level of talent is mirrored through the work of Dickens, An author that inspired John Sullivan to create the incredibly intangible comedy of OFAH.
2) THE CAST.
Think of different actors to play any role of OFAH and you are rewarded with a feeling that can only be described as sacrilegious. If it’s a matter of fact that every actor is born to play a certain part, then the cast of OFAH have certainly fulfilled their destiny’s.
The onscreen chemistry between the initial leads that consisted of Sir David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Lennard pierce echoed gloriously through television sets across the country. This notion is amplified with the addition of Buster Merryfield who starred as the shows Uncle Albert.
The trotter Family was born, there trials and tribulations broadcast to the public and what turned out to be a modest initial interest, eventually turned into the phenomenon it’s become today. Its last screening pulled in twenty eight million plus viewers, a figure which can only stand testament to the amazing comedic talent of the cast of the show.
1) JOHN SULLIVAN.
John Sullivan had already made a name for himself writing comedy before OFAH was broadcast on television. He wrote sketches for the very successful Two Ronnie’s sketch show and was the creator of the successful Sitcom Citizen Smith.
John also enjoyed success writing further projects after the initial release of the OFAH series. Work which includes spin offs based on character’s from the show ( THE GREEN GREEN GRASS) and more recently a prequel to OFAH (ROCK AND CHIPS).
To most, the original OFAH series will always remain John’s masterpiece. It is after all a body of work that spans three decades, work that bellows talent of the highest of quality from everyone involved, the key to its success lies with John’s ability to take the viewer on a roller coaster of emotions, often mixing comedy with tragedy with little effort, an effort that requires a certain level of genius.
John Sullivan’s visionary creation will forever go down as the most popular comedy ever created in Britain, a feat that possibly can never be rivaled and rightly so.