4. Only Fools and Horses
Only Fools and Horses is a British television sitcom created and written by John Sullivan. Seven series were originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom from 1981 to 1991, with sixteen sporadic Christmas specials aired until the end of the show in 2003. Episodes are regularly repeated on UKTV comedy channel Gold, Yesterday and occasionally repeated on BBC One. Set in Peckham in south-east London, it stars David Jason as ambitious market trader Derek “Del Boy” Trotter, Nicholas Lyndhurst as his younger brother Rodney Trotter, and Lennard Pearce as their elderly Grandad. After Pearce’s death in 1984, his character was replaced by Del and Rodney’s Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield) who first appeared in February 1985. Backed by a strong supporting cast, the series follows the Trotters’ highs and lows in life, in particular their attempts to get rich.
The show achieved consistently high ratings, and the 1996 episode “Time on Our Hands” (the last episode to feature Uncle Albert) holds the record for the highest UK audience for a sitcom episode, attracting over 24.3 million viewers. Critically and popularly acclaimed, the series received numerous awards, including recognition from BAFTA, the National Television Awards and the Royal Television Society, as well as winning individual accolades for both Sullivan and Jason. It was voted Britain’s Best Sitcom in a 2004 BBC poll. The series influenced British culture, contributing several words and phrases to the English language. It spawned an extensive range of merchandise, including books, videos, DVDs, toys, and board games. A spin-off series, The Green Green Grass, ran for four series in the UK from 2005 to 2009. A prequel, Rock & Chips, ran for three specials in 2010 and 2011. A special Sport Relief episode aired in March 2014, guest starring David Beckham.
5. Just Good Friends
The series followed the wavering relationship between two ex-lovers, Penny Warrender, a secretary for an advertising firm, and Vincent Pinner, an ex-ice cream salesman turned bookmaker who is the son of a wealthy scrap metal merchant. The couple split up following Vincent’s decision not to marry Penny on their wedding day, leaving her at the altar. In the pilot episode, five years since their intended wedding day, the pair meet again by chance in a pub while out on individual dates. The pair decide to forget the past and become friends, although the rekindling of their relationship is not welcomed by Penny’s snobbish parents, particularly her mother, Daphne, played by Sylvia Kay.
The 1984 90-minute Christmas special was a prequel to the series showing how Penny and Vince first met, loved and how Penny was jilted and married Graham. The last episode of the second series was intended to be the final episode, with Penny leaving for a job in Paris. The cast reunited in 1986 for a final seven episodes, in which Penny and Vince met up in Paris two years after they split up. Penny was now divorced and Vince was married; the couple renew their relationship and Vince, now a successful businessman, gives up everything for a quick divorce to pay off his wife Gina so he can be with Penny. In the final episode, Vince is still recovering from his painful divorce when his father pays a visit. Vince is told that unless he calls the wedding off, a lucrative wine export contract cannot be signed – Gina’s way of blackmailing the Pinners by hitting where it really hurts. Similarly, Penny is told that unless she calls the wedding off, her dad’s new job may not happen and at work, she is offered a permanent basing in Paris, all because Gina Marshall (Vince’s ex) is too important a client to turn down. Eventually, she accepts the new posting but uses it to her advantage by returning to Paris and marrying Vince at the town hall.
Hi-de-Hi! is set at a holiday camp in the fictional seaside town of Crimpton-on-Sea, Essex. Loosely based on Butlins, Maplins is part of a holiday camp group owned by Joe Maplin, with Yellowcoats replacing Redcoats. Cambridge University Professor of Archaeology Jeffrey Fairbrother, who had become tired of academia, has been appointed the new entertainment manager. This has annoyed the camp host, Ted Bovis, who had expected the post. The job of camp comic is given to the naive but kind-hearted Spike Dixon, who wants an introduction to the world of show business. Many episodes involve Ted Bovis attempting to scam the campers as well as the well-meaning Fairbrother, who also has to avoid the romantic approaches of the chief Yellowcoat and sports organiser, Gladys Pugh.The other main characters in the show are out-of-work actors and entertainers at the tail end of their careers. These include Fred Quilley, a disqualified jockey; Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves, former ballroom champions; Mr Partridge, a music hall star reduced to performing Punch and Judy puppet shows, despite hating children; and Peggy Ollerenshaw, an eccentric but ambitious chalet maid who dreams of becoming a Yellowcoat.