The original version of an Only Fools and Horses episode is understood to have been banned by the show’s creator as he had felt that it portrayed Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter badly.
‘A Royal Flush’ was a festive special of the BBC sitcom – written and created by the late John Sullivan – which had originally been broadcast on Christmas Day in 1986.
The episode sees Rodney Trotter ( Nicholas Lyndhurst ) meet the daughter of a duke, with brother Del Boy ( David Jason ) then trying to help him make a good impression.
It had 18 million viewers at the time of its original broadcast but has long been cited as one of the worst episodes of the show, with creator Sullivan said to have “hated it” himself.
Sullivan is said to have taken issue with the portrayal of Del Boy in the episode, which was reportedly completed just hours before broadcast and had no audience laughter.
Del Boy has been considered out of character in ‘A Royal Flush,’ with him belittling Rodney at a posh dinner and threatening an audience member at the opera as well.
It’s understood that the original version of the episode was released on VHS in 1998 – almost a decade after it had first aired – with it later issued in DVD format in 2005.
The DVD version however is said to have been heavily edited at Sullivan’s request, with audience laughter added over it and around 18 minutes of footage purportedly cut.
The edited version reportedly featured in subsequent releases and TV repeats, though both versions of the episode were remastered for a Blu-Ray collection last year.
According to the Daily Star, the original version had actually even been banned by Sullivan at one point, because of the way that Del Boy came across during some scenes.
The outlet reports that the episode will be discussed in the documentary Only Fools and Horses: Secrets and Scandals, which is scheduled to air on Channel 5 tomorrow.
Chris Wadsworth, who had been an editor on the sitcom, explains in the upcoming special: “It’s quite a cruel, dark episode. John said: ‘This is not a good episode’.”
“Some 20 years later he said ‘Can we do anything to take out Del being nasty?’ The episode was shown to an audience to get a laughter track,” he further says of it.
And commenting on the unedited version of the episode, TV producer Richard Latto said: “The original where Del Boy is being quite cruel to Rodney […] is a hard watch.”
Only Fools and Horses: Secrets and Scandals will air on Channel 5 tomorrow night (July 22) at 9pm. The episode is likely to be available for catch up on My5 after broadcast.