Rock and Chips Lovely Jubbly!

It is considered one of the most highly regarded comedies ever created, it’s characters and catchphrases such as ‘you plonker’ and ‘you dipstick Rodney’ have become a part of the British comedy lexicon. It can only be Only Fools and Horses. The BBC series which hit our screens in 1981, has over the preceding years become a national treasure, so it’s offspring, the prequel Rock and Chips certainly has a lot to live up to.

The third instalment of Rock and Chips begins at the end and focuses on events starting seven months previously. Baby Rodders is growing up fast, Del is still single and desperate for love, Freddie the Frog and Jelly Kelly are still on inspector Dumb and Dumber’s radar after the Margate robbery and Joan Trotter is still The Ritz Ice-cream girl and Freddie’s ‘Domestic Help’. But all that’s about to change as Del decides that ‘Dracula on the Moon’ is the next big cinematic hit and sets his sights on a girl somewhat out of his league. Meanwhile Freddie is sentenced to six months in prison during which he decides it’s time he went straight, and arranges to run away to Bournemouth with Joan and baby Rodney. However Joan can’t leave unless Del Boy settles down, so will Del be able to hold his nerve and remain composed in front of Barbara’s upper class parents or will he act like a right plonker?

Rock and Chips certainly lives up to expectations as it has all the humour, heartbreak and laughter of an Only Fools episode. There are some brilliant comedic situations and the dialogue is incredibly well written and witty and includes an endless array of classic one liners such as ‘her teeth looked like gravestones in an earthquake’.

But the Trotters are not the only peculiar family on the scene as Del and Barbara’s engagement party fails to go to plan when Barbara’s mother tries to have her wicked way with Del Boy, who is then discovered by his new fiancé and the rest of the family. This results in a confessional style outburst from Barbara’s mother who confesses she is bored of her existence as a lonely housewife and is unhealthily jealous of her daughter and her fun-filled lifestyle. And we thought the Trotters were weird.

Altogether the cast  as a whole appear more confident in their roles and as a result deliver potentially award winning performances. Joan Trotter in particular lives up to her reputation and James Buckley’s performance as Del Boy is uncanny, from his mannerisms right down to the way he walks. But it is Nicholas Lyndhurst who steals the show as Freddie the Frog, the swarve, sinister, sophisticated gentleman thief, the polar opposite to his iconic character dippy, dreamer Rodney. Playing his own father shows just what an incredible actor he is, and never has the mention of Stork Margarine ever sounded more sinister. All in all a brilliant cast whose individual brilliance helps to propel the quality of the show way above that of your average BBC comedy and closer to that of its predecessor.

The setting of the 1960s is also masterfully handled and as a result the series feels very much like a tribute to the infamous decade. Whether it is the copycat hairstyles of Joan Trotter, the films advertised at The Ritz cinema, the costumes, the attitudes of a changing society as demonstrated by Barbara’s parents, and the instantly recognisable soundtrack captures, the attention to detail is fantastic and as such adds a sense of realism to the show.

Overall the shows creator John Sullivan has not let the British public down. Rock and Chips has simply got better and better and Dewi Humphrey’s direction is just perfect. Despite the tinge of sadness on Joan’s part the episode ends brightly as Del Boy and the gang head off to Brighton on their Vesper Scooters. Whether or not there is to be another episode of Rock and Chips is doubtful due to the recent sad loss of John Sullivan OBE but it has to be said, he couldn’t have left us on a higher note. Lovely Jubbly.

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