Revealed: the plot of the 2011 Only Fools and Horses reunion episode that never was…

John Challis, who played Boycie, exclusively told the Radio Times Festival that the episode was to feature Del Boy's 65th birthday

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Sitcom Only Fools and Horses had a long life, beginning in 1981 and continuing (via a collection of one-offs and Christmas specials) until 2003, leaving Del Boy and Rodney (David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst) flush with cash once again and facing a bright future.

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However, it’s since been revealed that one more episode was planned for the 30th anniversary of the show, and now star John Challis (who played car dealer Boycie) has opened up on what we might have expected from the Trotters and their entourage in the modern day.

“[Series creator] John Sullivan thought – because he was under such pressure to write another special, everybody wanted to see it – he suddenly thought, 2011, this is the 30th anniversary, this would be a good time to do it,” Challis told RadioTimes.com editor Tim Glanfield at the Radio Times Festival today.

“The premise was that it was Del Boy’s 65th, and he was gonna retire. So you can imagine us all back at the Nag’s Head, for Del Boy’s retirement, and I think a lot of people would have watched that.”

John Challis as Boycie in Only Fools and Horses

However, as Challis explained an unexpected tragedy cut the plans for a reunion short.

“Unfortunately, [John Sullivan] got ill, and eventually he never came out of it, which was another terrible shock I have to say,” he told the crowd. “I think there was gonna be more of the prequel, Rock and Chips, which had started to build an audience. I think it was a fascinating idea, and I think there would’ve been more of those as well.”

He went on: “There was some thought that his son Jim, who’d written a few bits of [Only Fools spin-off] the Green Green Grass and was quite promising as a writer, he might continue the special. But I think eventually the family decided that Only Fools had got to such a good level, they didn’t want to come in with something less than it was. So I think you can understand that.”

Still, Challis says he’s still open to the idea of a return to the series – but only if the material’s strong enough.

“David Jason’s always said that if a script came up for another special, he’d certainly look at it,” he said.

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“I would too, of course. Because it means so much to people – it’s crossed all the generations, young people love it as well. So I think there’s room for it – as long as it can get to the level it used to be at, which is gonna be difficult.”