Lovely jubbly! Del Boy's back – as a teenager

'Only Fools and Horses' writer plans to bring back his most-loved sitcom characters in a prequel

Boycie and Marlene have fled to the countryside. Del and Rodney are probably still knocking out hooky gear from Nelson Mandela House. Meanwhile, John Sullivan, the writer of Only Fools and Horses, has been dusting off his scripts for the long-anticipated prequel to Britain's most popular sitcom – which raked in 24 million viewers at its peak – featuring a teenage Del.

Del Boy, the dodgy wheeler-dealer with a heart of gold, though knocked by life many times, never would stay down. Even when he fell through an open bar in a classic bit of slapstick that rivalled the Moon landings as the greatest ever TV moment, he scrambled up again with his cocktail intact.

While the series of Only Fools and Horses ended in 1991, Del and his motley gang of ne'er-do-wells kept popping back up on our screens in the form of Christmas specials until 2003. Now, five years after he left our screens apparently for good, it seems Peckham's favourite son is on his way back.

Industry insiders say the BBC is once again looking at Sullivan's idea of a prequel that would be set in the 1960s. Called Once Upon a Time in Peckham, the comedy would tell the story of the brothers' parents Reg and Joan, as well as a younger Grandad. Del and Rodney's mother loomed large in Only Fools and Horses, but only as backstory – she died when Rodney was young, leaving Del to bring up his little brother after Reg disappeared.

Sullivan first had the idea of the prequel in 1997, and in 2003 the BBC went as far as announcing the show had been commissioned, calling for young actors who wanted to play Del Boy to come forward. Then, the final episode of Only Fools and Horses set the scene. The Christmas special, called "Sleepless in Peckham", centred around a photograph from 1960 of the Jolly Boys' Outing, a coach trip with a young Del, Boycie and Trigger, with Reg, Grandad and "gentleman thief" Freddie "the Frog" Robdal, who bore a remarkable likeness to Rodney.

Sullivan explained at the time that the pilot episode of Once Upon a Time in Peckham would see Del Boy bunking off school, becoming a mod and flogging dodgy gear to his mates – younger versions of Boycie, Denzil and Trigger.

"I'm having a lot of fun writing it because it's set in the same period as when I was growing up," Sullivan said. "Joanie will be a key character, and during the film will give birth to Rodney. We'll also see Grandad as a much younger man."

The idea was shelved, however, and instead the BBC decided to make The Green Green Grass, Sullivan's spin-off featuring the snobbish used-car salesman Boycie and his wife Marlene, who flee to the countryside to escape the Driscoll brothers. Now in its fourth series, The Green Green Grass attracts about six million viewers per episode. Industry insiders say its success has led the BBC to dust off the scripts for Once Upon a Time in Peckham, with a view to commissioning it later this year.

A spokeswoman for Sullivan's production company Shazam, which makes Green Green Grass, said the sitcom was one of three or four projects the BBC was discussing with the writer.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Business Development and Analytics - TV

competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...

Head of ad sales international - Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...

Business Development Manager Content/Subscriptions

£50k + commission: Savvy Media Ltd: Great opportunity to work for a team that ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?