Only Fools and Horses

Where the cast of Only Fools and Horses are now from tragically young deaths to becoming a chauffeur

Over 40 years since the first episode of Only Fools and Horses aired, some actors are still going strong

Only Fools and Horses will forever be a cult classic in the UK. The comedy sitcom, which first aired in 1981 and was last seen on our screens in 2003, is to this day one of the most popular shows in British television history.

But what has become of all the actors who helped make Only Fools and Horses the success that it was? Many of them never again achieved the heights of fame they reached when the show was still part of the weekly TV guide.

Saying that, some continued to take on lead roles in other series’, while others went on to act in TV commercials. One unassuming actor from the show’s original cast made it as far as Hollywood, while another had to take up a job as a chauffeur to survive.

Sir David Jason

Actor David Jason as Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter in Only Fools and Horses (Image: BBC)

Sir David Jason, who played arguably the most iconic character in the series, Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter, continued to appear in other shows. He played Detective Inspector Jack Frost in A Touch of Frost, which was initially based on the Frost novels by R. D. Wingfield. He played the role for 16 years, from 1992 to 2008. He also played Albert in Hogfather and Des in the Diamond Geezer.

David is today one of the most celebrated actors in British TV history. In addition to taking home many awards for his acting, he was granted an OBE in 1993 before being knighted by the Queen in 2005. But despite all of his success both on and off-screen, the now-83-year-old will always be remembered first and foremost as Del Boy.

Nicholas Lyndhurst

Nicholas Lyndhurst played Rodney Trotter in Only Fools and Horses (Image: Ian West/PA Wire)

Nicholas Lyndhurst, who played Del Boy’s loyal yet naïve little brother Rodney, also kept up his acting career after Only Fools and Horses in prequel Rock and Chips as well as roles in New Tricks and So Awkward. While still filming for Only Fools and Horses, he was also acting as Gary in Goodnight Sweetheart, for which he won two National Television Awards. In 2007 he was cast as Jimmy in TV series After You’ve Gone, and in 2016 he took the role of George Williams in A United Kingdom.

But in more recent times Nicholas has been coming to terms with the tragedy of losing his son Archie, who died from a brain tumour in 2020 at the age of 19. At the time, Nicholas and his wife Lucy said they were “utterly grief stricken and respectfully request privacy”.

John Challis

John Challis was part of the cast for the show’s entire run (Image: Ian West/PA Wire)

John Challis, the actor behind the character Boycie, continued his acting career by taking on the role of Monty Staines in the ITV show Benidorm, which aired between 2015 and 2018. Meanwhile, his character Boycie proved so popular that he was given his own spin-off show called The Green Green Grass, which aired between 2005 and 2009. He was also a well-known stage actor before he passed away at the age of 79 in September 2021.

His funeral was attended by Only Fools and Horses co-stars Sir David Jason and Sue Holderness. Strangely enough, American rapper Ice-T was also at his funeral. John and Ice-T had become friends over Twitter and were said to have exchanged many gifts despite never meeting in person.

Sue Holderness

Sue Holderness as Marlene Boyce in Only Fools and Horses (Image: BBC)

Boycie’s wife Marlene was played by actress Sue Holderness. She appeared alongside John Challis in the spin-off series The Green Green Grass, and was also in Still Open All Hours with Del Boy actor David Jason for a total of 10 episodes.

She also appeared in BBC’s Casualty in 2014, as well as EastEnders in early 2021, playing Billy Mitchell’s new love interest Estelle Jones. At the age of 72, Sue is still acting, most recently featuring as Judith Lloyd James in The Madame Blanc Mysteries TV series in 2021.

Gwyneth Strong

Gwyneth Strong played Cassandra in Only Fools and Horses (Image: BBC)

Gwyneth Strong, who played Rodney’s wife Cassandra, also appeared in Casualty. She was actually in it on three occasions playing three different characters on each occasion. She also got to act again with David Jason in A Touch of Frost, playing D.S. Bailey in 1997. Sue also appeared in Midsomer Murders, Doctors and New Tricks.

Like Sue Holderness, Gwyneth too was cast in EastEnders, playing the role of Geraldine Clough, the leader of a female darts team from “The Feathers” pub who come to the Queen Victoria pub for a tournament against the Vic’s team led by Linda Carter. She was in EastEnders for a total of seven episodes in 2016.

Tessa Peake-Jones

Raquel was played by Tessa Peake-Jones (Image: BBC)

Gwyneth was on Loose Women in 2018 alongside Tessa Peake-Jones, the actress who played Del Boy’s wife Raquel. Tessa had quite the career after Only Fools and Horses, taking up roles in The Demon Headmaster, The Bill, Holby City and Midsomer Murders.

She was also in Doctors for a total of 12 episodes between 2009 and 2011. Most recently she played Mrs Chapman in Grantchester.

She was married to actor Douglas Hodge, who played the adult version of Raquel’s son Damien, despite Douglas being only two years younger than Tessa in real life. However, their marriage was not to last. They divorced in 2013 after 29 years together.

Patrick Murray

Patrick Murray played Mickey Pearce in Only Fools and Horses (Image: BBC)

As for actor Patrick Murray, who brought to life the character of Mickey Pearce, he wound up moving to Thailand for 10 years, where he married his Thai wife and had a daughter.

In an episode of Loose Women in 2018, he said he had to return to the UK to get a visa to bring his family over. He found it difficult to get back into acting, so he got a job as a chauffeur to make ends meet while waiting to reunite with his family. His career did see a brief revival however in 2019, when he got a role in TV series Conditions playing Frank Bridge for 13 episodes.

Paul Barber

Paul Barber was a big hit as Denzil (Image: Publicity Picture)

Paul Barber, meanwhile, had a much different experience. The actor who played lorry driver Denzil landed himself a role alongside Hollywood legend Samuel L. Jackson in the 2001 movie The 51st State.

He was also in the 1997 British comedy film The Full Monty, as well as finding roles in Coronation Street and Casualty. He’s also had roles in Matchmakers and Home from Home. The 70-year-old, who currently has three projects in post-production, has also been credited by actor Idris Elba has also credited Paul for being his inspiration for getting into acting.

Roger Lloyd-Pack

Roger Lloyd-pack played Trigger (Image: BBC/PA Wire)

Roger Lloyd-Pack played the comical, dim-witted road sweeper Trigger. After moving on from Only Fools and Horses, he had a brief stint in Doctor Who in 2006.

He also made appearances in New Tricks, Survivors and The Catherine Tate Show. He played Tom in The Old Guys and Friar in The Borgias. He also enjoyed further acting roles including playing farmer Owen Newitt in the Vicar of Dibley and starring beside Stephen Fry in the Twelfth Night and Richard III at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Roger, however, passed away in 2014 at the age of 69 from pancreatic cancer.

Ron Pember

Ron was in one episode of Only Fools and Horses (Image: BBC)

Ron Pember, who appeared in the show briefly in 1983 as Baz, the Chairman of the Tenants’ Association, went on to be cast in roles in popular shows including Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, High Street Blues, Bluebirds, and All Good Things. He retired from acting in 1992 after suffering a stroke, and passed away on March 8, 2022. He was 87.

Kenneth MacDonald

Kenneth MacDonald famously played the Nags Head landlord, Mike (Image: BBC)

Kenneth MacDonald, who played pub owner Mike Fisher until 1996. After leaving Only Fools and Horses he got a role in The Bill.

He continued to make appearances in several shows including Merseybeat, David Copperfield and Cor, Blimey! Kenneth unfortunately died from a heart attack while he was on holiday in Hawaii in 2001. He was only 50 when he passed away.

Buster Merryfield

Buster Merryfield’s character Uncle Albert was introduced after the death of Grandad actor Lennard Pearce (Image: Daily Mirror)

Uncle Albert actor Buster Merryfield died before the curtain could fully close on Only Fools and Horses. He was 79 when he passed away in 1999 from a brain tumour. He he been in 37 episodes of Only Fools and Horses before he died.

Lennard Pearce

Lennard played Grandad on the show (Image: BBC)

Lennard Pearce, who played Grandad, died suddenly in 1984 following a heart attack. He was 69-years-old when he died. Only Fools and Horses was the last TV show he was in at the time of his death.

The “Hole in One” episode was in production at the time of his death, so scenes he had filmed had to be re-shot with Buster Merryfield whose character Uncle Albert had been brought in to replace Grandad. Grandad was subsequently written out of the show.

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