Only Fool’s and Horses Series 6 (1989) Review

Any long running sitcom approaching series 6, has either passed its peak or is cruising on high, the general public in the palm of their hands. As the 1980’s approached their conclusion it was possible that Only Fool’s & Horses (1981-2003) could have taken the former route. There had been no full series for 3 years, with the occasional Christmas Special interspersed, and a key member of the cast had already been replaced. Could it have been time to lock the little yellow van? Thankfully, this was not to be the case.

In 1989 the sixth series was broadcast, expanding the Trotterverse in new ways. Gone are the capers of The Russians are Coming, series 6 is able to build upon the characters and raise the bar to a near perfect 6 episodes.

The Characters

It is immediately apparent that some time has passed (both in a real world and fictional context) since the events of series 5, this is most obvious in the character of Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst). Gone is the Khaki bomber jacket and adolescent outbursts of previous episodes, as hidden depths are unveiled to the character. This is helped by the introduction of Cassandra, Rodney’s love interest played by Gwyneth Strong, and their shared character arc is one of the strongest thus far. As someone new is finally allowed into the inner circle, which expands the foundations where the show can go for storylines.     

Everyone’s favourite wheeler dealer has also moved with the times, in turn meaning the show finally feels as if it’s entered the 1980’s. Now enamoured with the Yuppy culture, the character is closer to The Wolf of Peckham Street, but writer John Sullivan ensures that this new façade leaves the laugh firmly on Del Boy. Leading to a rare instance of cultural criticism, as in one episode there is a heated discussion about the moral implications of selling the notorious Nelson Mandella House flat, to take advantage of the gentrification of Peckham. Mirroring the culture of ‘Greed is Good` promoted in Thatcher’s Britain.


Series 6 gets off to a bang with opener Yuppy Love, whilst containing one of the iconic (and eye roll inducing moments, from repeats and Z-list Channel 5 documentaries) when Del Boy falls through the bar. The moral message of the episodes ending is more akin to an earlier Only Fool’s episode, but the foundations for a soft reboot of the programme are launched. Following on from this are a triple header of iconic episodes, a perfect storm of character moments and physical comedy which are cemented into the British public consciousness. This would be the average sitcoms greatest hits, not 1 series out of 7.

However, series 6 peaks at its 2 part finale, Sickness and Wealth & Little Problems. Both episodes test the characters and have moments of standout hilarity. Sickness and Wealth (minus a potentially insensitive AIDs reference) strips away the Del Boy façade and gives David Jason another opportunity to show off his dramatic chops. The episodes finale is a rare instance of a sitcom not restoring equilibrium by announcing the forthcoming finale, Rodney’s wedding.   

Often wedding episodes are the centrepiece to a series (Friends and The Big Bang Theory) but the wedding finale came as a left turn for the sitcom’s narrative. Broadening its emotional palette to drama territory, which John Sullivan would expand on as the show continued. Caroline Aherne has sighted this episode as a sitcom pedestal, a mix of genuine emotion and comedic moments, which she was more than capable of in The Royle Family (1999-2012). This is most apparent at the episode’s conclusion, when Rodney leaves the reception and the camera cuts between the brothers and no dialogue is exchanged. Signposting the end of an era for the programme, where the characters start their own private journeys.


Only Fool’s and Horses Series 6 is most likely the shows peak. It bolsters a superb confidence which enabled it to expand its repertoire for storylines and comedic potential. Overall, a fantastic series of a great sitcom.