As many of you know, we have for a long time suffered the non-stop cuts on repeats of Only Fools and Horses – see article BBC gets complaints from Fools Fans
We are also aware of the great support this site gets from all the true fans of the show including the Sullivan family. Here follows an official statement from Jim Sullivan regarding the cuts made to Only Fools and the recent statement from the BBC that all cuts were made with the Sullivan families approval…
It has come to our attention that many of you have complained to the BBC with regard to the editing of the recent daytime repeats of Only Fools and Horses, and that in response the BBC have stated that these edits were given the ‘okay’ by John Sullivan’s family.
While it is true that myself, and my brother, Dan, did create, and give the green light for most of the edits that you saw in these repeats, I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight, let you know exactly what we were up against and assure you that nobody understands and shares your frustration and annoyance more than us.
Back in June, we, John’s family, were contacted and asked if we would like to take a look at the editing for the repeats. We were sent an outline of the edits for all the episodes (many of which required a full two minutes of material to be cut) then Dan and I went to the BBC’s reversioning department where we were shown these proposed edits. The large majority of these were truly awful, with little, or in most cases no, consideration whatsoever given to story coherence or gags. Many were so bad and poorly executed that they really had to be seen to be believed. Still many more were completely baffling. For example, Del saying “Monchengladbach” to Anna in the episode ‘From Prussia with Love’ had been removed – our only conclusion being that some bright spark at the BBC, unsure of what this actually means, but gripped by the sheer terror of possibly, perhaps, just maybe offending somebody, decided it best to be safe than sorry.
Other examples (and these are just a few) include an edit in the episode ‘Hole In One’ that actually came right in the middle of a joke and took out the punch line. In the episode ‘No Greater Love’ Rodney’s entire telephone conversation with Irene, and Del’s reaction to it, had been removed (I assume that it had been deemed offensive to gay people.) In the episode ‘Ashes to Ashes’ there was an edit that was so bad that I had to point out that, unless changed, viewers would think there was something wrong with their televisions. In the episode ‘The Long Legs of the Law’ the ‘Tommy Razzle and his ‘dog’ joke had been removed (offensive to women or dogs? I can’t say for certain.) In the episode ‘Big Brother’ the entire opening dialogue between Rodney and Grandad, in which Grandad talks about Sidney Poitier always playing the black fella, had been removed (as a result of this, and had we not insisted it be put back, Grandad would not have appeared in the entire opening scene.) And it goes on; Del’s line “knees up mother Patel” in the episode ‘As One Door Closes’ had been removed (the surname ‘Patel’ was also removed from the episode ‘The Longest Night’.) Del’s harmless and good natured joke with Ranji in the episode ‘Who’s A Pretty Boy?’ had been removed. The line “Frank Bruno’s arse” in the episode ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll’ was removed (this, you understand, was not because of the word ‘arse’ which was deemed fine to remain in other episodes.) Also gone, in the episode ‘As One Door Closes’, was Uncle Albert’s mere mention of the fact that Denzil is black. I do not exaggerate when I say this, but it eventually reached the point where we could not help but feel that the merest sight of a black or Asian face on the screen was somehow pushing the boundaries. Oddly enough (but quite rightly) Denzil’s line about Rodney being “the whitest man” he’s ever seen went untouched. Apart from this total lack of consistency in its own reasoning (if you can call it that), we found the BBC’s attitude towards these edits, and the show in general, to be careless, lazy and indifferent. It was made perfectly clear to us that the BBC has no concern whatsoever for quality and precision; only a bizarre obsession with whether or not they may be offending certain people. Sadly, I expect that the fact that they are, in taking this approach, actually offending a lot of people, has never even crossed their minds. When Dad first envisioned and wrote Only Fools, it was his intention to explore and express the vibrant, multicultural face of (what was then) modern London. Why the BBC has such a problem with this and is so afraid of it that it resorts to censorship is beyond me. All I do know is that they are extremely determined to create problems where there aren’t any.
By far the biggest cock up of all (at least that I’m aware of) came in the episode ‘Sleeping Dogs Lie’ – any of you who saw this particular repeat will know what I’m talking about. We did oversee the editing of a version of this episode, which we were happy with (as happy as possible), however, the version that was aired was a completely different one, the existence of which we were not even aware. This, I would like to make very clear, was the BBC’s mistake. We were promised that every episode would be rechecked before transmission, and this did not happen. On bringing this to the BBC’s attention, they did accept full responsibility and apologised. I was resigned to let the matter go and accept it as just one of those things, but for them to now suggest that we were in any way culpable for this, upsets us very much. We did not give the BBC the okay to make such sloppy and amateurish mistakes and we are, like you, very angry about the whole situation. We did our very best, in what is a very difficult time for us, to salvage and restore the damage done to these episodes. We would like you all to know that we care extremely deeply about Only Fools and the great legacy that Dad has left for us all to enjoy and that we will always strive to respect and protect that legacy. However, when it comes to the BBC’s current standards and regulations, there really is only so much one can do.
All the best