Del Boys and Dealers, TV review: A wheeler-dealer documentary that's the genuine article


No income tax? No VAT? One couldn't possibly speculate how accurately the wheeler-dealers in four-part series Del Boys and Dealers (BBC1) fill in their returns, but, like Del, they're fun to spend time with.

So much fun, in fact, that you can almost hear the commissioning editor's hum of satisfaction over the opening credits. DB&Ds followed the stories of a rag-tag (rag-and-bone-tag?) bunch of traders who frequent auctions in what the narrator euphemistically called the "trash and treasure market". Less Christie's and Sotheby's in St James's and Mayfair and more Greasby's in Tooting.

Out of nowhere, this was glorious TV. An hour that made me laugh as much as any sitcom I've watched this week, but produced with a deft enough touch to make it clear that its main characters are in on any jokes.

Among the dealers hoping to find their own version of Del's Harrison watch were Richie and Nikki, a young London couple; rag-and-boner Brian Greenaway; Sharon and Al from Essex and poor old Ieuan in Newport.

Ieuan, whose day job is at Iceland (he lists its CEO Malcolm Walker as a hero, and dreams of one day opening his own retail emporium called "Ieauland"), thought he'd stumbled upon a Harrison at a Welsh auction house when he nabbed a pair of watches for £26. One of them looked very, very much like a Rolex Oyster, worth over £2,500 – enough to get a business off the ground. Ieuan pored over watch websites, cradled his find like a newborn and told the viewers about the finer points of Rolexual authenticity. As he drove to a local watch expert to find out its true worth, I found myself, watching in an empty office, mouthing "come on" in the hope it was genuine.

Alas. Alas... it was about as Swiss as a banana. Next time, Ieuan. Next time.

Richie and Nikki had a bit more luck. Richie is about as close to being a proper Del Boy as anyone featured here. A geezer with an eye for a bit of a "tickle" he was trying to rustle up some funds to inject into his fledgling car-spraying business called, er, Autocare & Sons.

The pair had stumbled – well, actually Nikki had – upon a box of old drawings and prints for about £30. An art dealer then valued the lot at about £2,500. Result. Rather than thank his partner for spotting it, Richie was reflective: "I would never ever, ever, EVER have bought that," he mused. He ended up doing a quick sell for about a grand, rather than wait for a specialist art auction. Still, good bit of tickle.

Best of all were Al and Sharon. They'd both given up work to trade full time and had made, in two years, £3,000 profit.

One hopes that they've got other funds as they don't seem particularly astute. At one point, Sharon bought 231 bags of polystyrene snowballs for £14.16. She did make a profit by selling two on eBay but was then left with 229 packets of polystyrene snowballs to shift. They later bought a knackered 1984 hearse with flames painted on the bonnet. For some reason they struggled to sell it on.

This, frankly, is the wonderful side of capitalism. The title might be a cynical way of luring in Only Fools fans, but it's also not without reason. We loved Derek Trotter because he liked, in Richie's phrase "a bit of a tickle". Del might have sold you a dodgy vacuum cleaner, but he would never have, say, used leverage to buy your favourite football club, or invested your life savings into a Ponzi scheme, or bunga-bungaed your pension into junk bonds. It's why God blessed Hooky Street, and not Wall Street. More!

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor