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No income tax, no VAT… Only Fools and Horses is one of the most popular British comedies ever made and spanning over 20 years the programme has gone from strength to strength. Del Boy and Rodney are one of Britain’s greatest comedy duos and have been together on screen for over seven series, including a number of Christmas specials. Within Britain, Only Fools and Horses is a national icon, but for some strange reason the programme has not been as successful worldwide. The reason for this has puzzled me for many years, as other BBC comedies like Fawlty Towers have prospered elsewhere. Maybe with the DVD releases people will have the opportunity to find out what they’ve been missing. In Europe the BBC has been slowly working through the series and now it is the turn of series five to get a release.

Complete Only Fools and Horses : Series 5, The
The main two characters as mentioned above are Del (David Jason) and Rodney Trotter (Nicholas Lyndhurst). Del Boy, as he likes to be called, is a typical cockney ‘wheeler dealer’, who sells anything he can get his hands on, the dodgier the better! His brother Rodney is considered the brains of the family as he has two GCEs, but he still finds himself working for Del. The Trotters live together in luxury apartments in South London. Well that’s what they tell everyone, but in fact they live in Nelson Mandella House, a huge tower block in Peckham. Various characters have come and gone over the years with Grandad, Uncle Albert, Trigger and Denzel being just a few of the main characters. Del has his own lingo, which contributes to some of the more amusing moments in the programme. Phrases like “lovely jubbly” and “Rodney You Plonker!” can still be heard on British streets today, which is a testament to how popular the show still is. Series five in my opinion is one of the funniest sets of episodes. The good thing about Only Fools and Horses is that no matter how many times you watch it, you will still find yourself chuckling away throughout. Only Fools and Horses has a winning formula, which it has managed to keep all through its long run on British TV and this is demonstrated by it still being shown nearly every night on British channels. Every now and again when the BBC need a viewer winning programme, Only Fools and Horses steps out of retirement to save the day. The fifth series of Only Fools and Horses first aired on 31st August 1986 and contained six episodes. Here is a rundown of all the episodes you will find on this disc.

From Prussia With Love
When a German damsel turns up in the Nags Head she's definitely in distress. Rodney wants to befriend and help the girl, as she’s nine months pregnant and her English is poor to say the least, but Del's got an idea that this may be the answer to Boycie and Marlene's dreams of a child and a golden opportunity make a few bob along the way. The brothers take the grateful girl in until she goes into labour and Del arranges the adoption with promises that the baby will be well cared for. After the birth, Boycie and Marlene arrive to collect the new member of their family, but perhaps unsurprisingly there is a slight hitch in Del’s master plan.

The Miracle of Peckham
Del Boy has no conscience and shows this by buying some hookey gear with the aim of selling it on to the local church. While on the church premises Del witnesses a miracle and decides to cash in on it. National media coverage (at a price for the journalists) means that Del is suddenly turned into a star, and a rich one at that. Is all as it seems, or could this be another one of Del’s crafty money making schemes?

Complete Only Fools and Horses : Series 5, The
The Longest Night
It’s the weekly family outing to the supermarket for the Trotters, but this trip is going to last a little longer. Stopped by security guards on suspicion of shoplifting, Del, Rodney and Uncle Albert are escorted up to the manager’s office. Meanwhile in the supermarket a shadow is lurking. Well that’s what the local burglar likes to call himself! The shadow forces the security guard to take him to the safe which unfortunately is locked for the night. Desperate to get the money, the shadow holds the manager, security guard and the Trotter family hostage for the night until the safe can be opened. The highlight of this episode has to be Rodney’s daring attempt (or is it!) to overpower the burglar.

Tea For Three
This is probably my favourite episode on the disc, and one of the best overall. Del and Rodney are arguing a lot, and an incident with a sun bed leaves Rodney looking rather red. It turns out that Del tampered with the sun bed controls while Rodney was asleep on it, and now Rodney is looking to get revenge. Del manages to get himself volunteered for a spot of hang gliding, but thinks that he will be able to escape the experience with the help of his brother. Revenge is sweet for Rodney as he sees his brother fly off into the sunset.

Video Nasty
Rodney has been asked to write a script for the community film society. It just so happens that Del has a spare typewriter, but in exchange for the equipment Rodney has to listen to his brother’s idea for the movie. Del’s script consists of a killer Hippopotamus let loose in a big city.  Not too keen on the idea, Rodney starts writing his own script and enlists the help of Mickey Pearce to direct the movie. Mickey is a natural with a video camera, and decides that he can make a few pounds in the process.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire
Del Boy meets old friend Jumbo Mills in the Nags Head, and soon gets an offer he cannot refuse. Jumbo offers Del a partnership in Australia running a car business. It seems like a chance of a life time, but Rodney’s past means that Del has a difficult choice to make.

I own all the previous DVD releases of Only Fools and Horses and was expecting another impressive transfer from the BBC for this release. Series five of Only Fools and Horses is presented in 4.3 (Full Frame), which is the aspect ratio the series was originally broadcast in. The majority of the episodes are presented impressively, with probably the clearest and richest colour levels provided so far in the Only Fools and Horses DVD collection. However the transfer is slightly let down by compression artifacts, which can been seen in a couple of the episodes. They are particularly obvious in episode four, but surprisingly in other episodes they are hardly noticeable. Therefore taking into account all six episodes, the overall transfer quality can be considered on par with previous releases of this programme, and is a vast improvement on my old VHS copies.  

Complete Only Fools and Horses : Series 5, The
There’s not much to say about the audio provided on this disc. The soundtrack is in mono, which is in line with the previous releases of Only Fools and Horses. The dialogue is always clear and audible, which is essential for this type of comedy programme. There are also English subtitles which are easy to read. The menus on display are standard fixed menus and each time you select an option Del says ‘Lovely Jubbly”.
BBC releases very rarely carry extras and this one is no different. With a running time of over one hundred and seventy minutes, it could be argued that the episodes are enough to keep you entertained. It would have been nice to see a commentary from the main characters or a documentary of some sort. Maybe when all the episodes have been released on DVD we might get a boxset which carries some extras, but for the time being we will have to put up with just the episodes. Each episode can be played individually, or you can choose to play all episodes one after each other.

Complete Only Fools and Horses : Series 5, The
Slowly the BBC are working through the back catalogue of Only Fools and Horses, with this being one of the funniest series released so far. There are several classic episodes on this disc which fans will want to add to their collection. If you have purchased any of the previous releases of Only Fools and Horses on DVD you will know what to expect here. Unfortunately the dreaded compression artifacts have found their way onto a couple of episodes which is a slight disappointment, but that shouldn’t be enough to stop you owning this disc. If you want an example of British comedy at its best then you could do a lot worse than purchasing this disc. Del, Rodney and Uncle Albert are guaranteed to raise a few laughs. So what are you waiting for? As Del would say, “you know it makes sense!”