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Only Fools and Horses was recently voted Britain’s Best Sitcom, an accolade which was awarded by the British public after a rigorous voting process. Over twenty years ago, John Sullivan introduced the world to Del and Rodney Trotter, and the first ever episode attracted over nine million viewers. Pretty impressive figures, however those figures are nothing compared with the final ever episode which drew in over seventeen million viewers. Sleepless in Peckham brought to a close the legacy of the Trotter family. Even though it was a sad day for many people (myself included), it was obvious that the scriptwriters were running out of ideas and the show had started to become somewhat stale. Would Sleepless in Peckham prove to be a fitting conclusion to the best comedy show ever? Read on to find out.

Only Fools And Horses: Sleepless In Peckham
For anyone who has never seen an Only Fools and Horse episode, first of all where have you been??? Over the years many characters have come and gone, but there have always been a handful who have stayed on through thick and thin, probably the most famous of which is Del Boy (David Jason), a cockney market trader who has an eye for a bargain. When I say bargain what I actually mean is a hookey deal (mostly stolen goods or rejects). Del has no qualms about selling dodgy goods and this more often than not gets him into trouble. Assisting Del with the running of Trotters Independent Traders (the family company) is younger brother Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst). Over the years there have also been other characters who have lived with the Trotters; originally there was Granddad (Lennard Pearce) and more recently Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield). Del and Rodney are renowned throughout Peckham and they have many acquaintances who end up getting involved with schemes that the Trotters organise.

Anyway that’s enough of the background, now onto the Sleepless in Peckham episode which aired on Christmas Day 2003.  The last few years for the Trotters have been somewhat like a Rollercoaster; in 1996 they had reach their peak, having become millionaires, however after some foolish investments failed the brothers are now struggling to pay a hefty Inland Revenue bill. If they fail to find the cash then their home of twenty two years (Nelson Mandela House) will no longer be theirs.

Around the same time long term friends Marlene and Denzil go missing. This leads to various rumours around the Nag’s Head, could they have run away together, or could Boysie have killed his dear wife? The show climaxes with the startling news that Del and Rodney do not share the same father, and obviously Rodney is shocked by this but he doesn’t have too much time to dwell on it. There is about to be a new addition to the Trotter family and things could at last turn out well for all.

Only Fools And Horses: Sleepless In Peckham
I’m a huge fan of Only Fools and Horses but even though I love the show it was clearly evident that over the past few years it has declined somewhat. Sleepless In Peckham could have brought the show to a perfect conclusion, but instead it only served to disappoint. There are some amusing moments but overall this episode lacks originality and doesn’t have the magic and personality that you have come to expect from the Trotters. 2003 Christmas TV will be remembered for the brilliant conclusion to The Office and sadly the decline of Only Fools and Horses.

Many fans will buy this DVD so that they can finish their collection, but if you are looking for an impulse buy and want to see what Only Fools and Horses is really like then I would definitely look at earlier episodes. Over the years the success of Only Fools and Horses has been built around likeable characters, embarrassing situations and original ideas. Sadly the temptation to cash in on its popularity proved to be too much for scriptwriters, and they chose to ignore the things that made the programme appealing in the first place. Sleepless In Peckham turned out to be a poor conclusion to what is otherwise a classic British comedy series.  

Video
Sleepless in Peckham is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and unlike some of the previous Only Fools and Horses DVD releases, this transfer is impressive. It’s far from perfect, but compared to the last Only Fools and Horses DVD I watched, this is a massive step forward. I know a large part of this is probably down to the fact that the Sleepless In Peckham episode is only a year old, but even so the image and clarity levels far exceeded my expectations. The only real downside to this transfer are the grain levels which at certain points are very distracting.  

Only Fools And Horses: Sleepless In Peckham
Audio
The BBC have included a Dolby Digital Stereo track with this release and there is not much to say really. Like most comedy TV releases this track does everything you could ask of it, and that’s the biggest compliment you could pay it really. The dialogue levels are precise and clear throughout and the numerous musical tracks are also audible. Subtitles are provided in English.

Extras
Not surprisingly there are no extras included with this release. I say not surprisingly because none of the Only Fools and Horses titles contain any extras. It would have been nice for the BBC to have included some sentimental material in the form of a ‘farewell’ montage or something similar. However, that is not the case and I am not going to moan about it too much!

Only Fools And Horses: Sleepless In Peckham
Overall
At its peak Only Fools and Horses was one of the best comedies on TV and that fact only goes to strengthen my disappointment at this final episode. I’ve made my opinions known above so I am not going to elaborate anymore. The BBC have produced another respectable release, and while this DVD may not be at the cutting edge it certainly shouldn’t leave fans disappointed. Both video and audio aspects are perfectly respectable and the lack of extras has come to be expected. Chances are if you a fan of this show you will buy this DVD anyway, but it’s far from being lovely jubbly!


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