The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses

David Beckham will have a hoot appearing on 'Only Fools and Horses', says Kate Saunders, whose part in one classic episode was the most enjoyable week's work she's ever done

At last, I'll have something to talk about if I ever find myself seated at dinner next to David Beckham. The world's most famous footballer has joined a very exclusive club, of which I am proud to be a long-standing member. On 21 March, as part of the BBC's Sport Relief, he will appear in a special revival of Only Fools and Horses – complete with Sir David Jason as the Peckham wideboy Del, and Nicholas Lyndhurst as his hapless little brother Rodney (explain to the children that this sitcom, which ran through the entire Thatcher government and beyond, is one of the most popular of all time). David, love, I've been there, too.

In my early twenties, before I started writing so that I could work sitting down, I was a professional actor. And, in 1983, I went to see a delightful man named Ray Butt, in his office at Television Centre. He was directing the second series of OFAH, and looking for someone to play a policewoman, in an episode called "The Long Legs of the Law". At the time I was always being cast as sturdy young policewomen and I never knew why; thanks to OFAH, I now have eternal proof that it was because I looked like Vita Sackville-West on steroids.

Unfortunately, a combination of middle-class background and the theatre had planted a plum the size of a doorknob in my mouth. I knew my own natural accent would be completely wrong, so I read the script doing an imitation of Jill Gascoine as DI Maggie Forbes in ITV's The Gentle Touch. It worked – I owe her lunch for that. My entire performance was such pure Gascoine, I really ought to cut her in on the repeat fees. David Beckham will have a cameo role in the Only Fools and Horses reunion sketch on Sport Relief in March David Beckham will have a cameo role in the 'Only Fools and Horses' reunion sketch on Sport Relief in March

It's one of those old-luvvie maxims that comedy is deadly serious, and you don't laugh during rehearsals. Well, in this case, they were wrong. It was the most enjoyable week's work I've ever had, and I spent most of it helpless with laughter. Sir David Jason, now 73, may actually be the funniest actor in the world; 90 per cent of the job was keeping a straight face while he added touches of comic genius. And Lyndhurst's long-suffering Rodders, with his Puddleglum demeanour, is one of the all-time great television performances.

The plot of my episode is simple: Rodney has picked up a policewoman named Sandra and invited her home to the famous flat in Peckham, failing to appreciate that it is crammed with stolen goods. I was Sandra, in a revolting pale blue blouse, and I snogged Nicholas Lyndhurst!

It was the pinnacle of my acting career, and will probably be the only thing I'm remembered for when I die – if you want immortality, all you need is one appearance in a classic sitcom. Thirty years later, I still get recognised; the series has built up a huge fan base of list-making nerds who occasionally send me hideous photos of myself to sign. It was the golden age of actors' contracts, and that means my single week's work has brought in some very useful repeat fees down the years.

One pinnacle of my subsequent career as a journalist happened about a decade after my episode of OFAH, when I dropped into rehearsals of the umpteenth series to interview David Jason, and found the cast and crew beautifully unchanged. It hit me then just how lucky I was to have been part of it. Whatever I did before, or have done since – once, I supped with the immortals. David Beckham, this is where your real fame begins.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments