Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses: Forgotten 80s series that Grandad actor Lennard Pearce and Uncle Albert star Buster Merryfield starred in together

Lennard Pearce and Buster Merryfield briefly met each other in 1984

Only Fools and Horses is known by all to be one of the most iconic British sitcoms of all time, and almost every actor to ever star in the show has achieved legendary status within their own right. Two of these legends, however, sadly never got the chance to act together in the sitcom.

Lennard Pearce, better known by Only Fools and Horses fans simply as ‘Grandad’, had died before Buster Merryfield was brought into the show as Uncle Albert. Uncle Albert had actually been written into the show in February 1985, shortly after Lennard’s death two months earlier.

He was introduced in the same episode in which Grandad was laid to rest, replacing Lennard’s character as the elderly figure in the Trotter household. However, little do most people realise that Buster and Lennard had actually met in real life. In fact, they even starred together in two episodes of the same television series.

Shroud for a Nightingale was based on a a 1971 detective novel written by PD James in her Adam Dalgliesh series

Before Buster was cast in the role of Uncle Albert for Only Fools and Horses, he had played the role of Sir Miles Honeyman in the ITV mini series Shroud for a Nightingale. In the same series, Lennard had been cast in the role of a security guard called Mr Coles.

The series was shot in 1984, while Lennard was playing Grandad in Only Fools and Horses, but Buster at that time was still relatively unknown in the world of acting. Up until just a few years earlier, Buster was still working as a bank manager and only had very little experience as a stage actor.

Buster Merryfield looked almost unrecognisable with his trimmed beard
Buster Merryfield looked almost unrecognisable with his trimmed beard (Image: ITV)

Despite being the lesser experienced of the two actors, Buster took a more important role, playing a coroner overseeing an investigation into murders at a local hospital. Lennard, meanwhile, was only seen twice, letting cars into the hospital, with only one piece of dialogue.

Saying that, Buster’s lines weren’t necessarily the greatest bit of television magic. He literally turns up at the murder scene to say: “Yes, that girl with her head twisted all the way around is dead.”

Buster looks almost unrecognisable in the series, as his beard is a lot more trimmed compared to how we see it in Only Fools and Horses. Lennard, on the other hand, is much easier to spot.

Lennard was sadly out of view in the one scene he shared with Buster because of the camera angle
Lennard was sadly out of view in the one scene he shared with Buster because of the camera angle (Image: ITV)

The two actors were in at least one scene together, when Buster’s car rolls up to the gates of the hospital where Lennard is waiting to let him in. Unfortunately, however, the camera angle doesn’t allow viewers to see the two legends in the same shot, as the car blocks Lennard’s face.

Off-screen, Buster and Lennard are said to have only mingled briefly in the hospital car park. Not too long after the series was filmed, Lennard tragically passed away after suffering a heart attack.

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