Classic ending to Only Fools Christmas special was ‘nearly ruined’ by BBC

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Britain's most cherished episode of classic sitcom Only Fools and Horses was almost spoilt by bosses at the BBC, it has surfaced.

The Christmas special 'Heroes And Villains’ from December 1996 saw Del and Rodney don the iconic Batman and Robin costumes to what they thought was a pub landlord's fancy dress party — but ended up being their wake.

But the hilarious moment was nearly ruined by the Beeb's publicity department, who wanted to show the grand reveal in trailers to promote the show.

In his wryly named 2020 memoir A Del of a Life, Sir David Jason explained that the move would have wrecked the "careful build-up” that was calobrated in the scene.

He candidly wrote: “Even a glimpse of Del or Rodney in those stupid costumes before the episode was broadcast, indeed at any moment… would have been ruinous”

Sir Jason and the team put up a fight however which resulted in the secret being kept, sending a message which said: “Nothing showing Del and Rodney in those outfits should be leaked.”

Another step taken to keep the 'caped crusader' gag secret involved moving production to Bristol over fears that filming in the capital would allow sneaky photographers to leak it.

Other measures included hiring security guards to block off the area from passersby, and filming the footage after midnight, according to The Sun.

Writing elsewhere in the tell-all book, Sir David recalled: “A picture in the paper could have spoiled it. A trailer would have killed it stone dead.”

Heroes and Villain's broke Only Fools And Horses' previous string of record viewing figures after 21.3 million viewers tuned in, and was voted the UK’s favourite Christmas show of all time in a 2001 poll.

The moment also featured in the London Olympics’ closing ceremony in 2012.

A repeat of the classic episode is airing on UKTV Gold at 1:50pm on Christmas Day.

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  • Only Fools and Horses
  • Christmas
  • BBC

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