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Cushty! 'Fools' musical is the creme de la menthe

With plenty of mange tout, Chateauneuf du Pape and a sprinkling of creme de la menthe, Del Boy and Rodney have made it to the West End.

They may not be millionaires quite yet, but this time next year – after all, there’s a foolproof plan to shift models of the Leaning Eiffel Tower Of Pisa.

Cushty, eh?

It’s no mean feat to take on arguably the nation’s best-loved TV comedy, but writers Paul Whitehouse (who plays Granddad) and Jim Sullivan (son of original Only Fools creator John Sullivan) really have done it proud, combining some of the series’ most memorable moments with a fitting soundtrack and a few gags on Brexit and the gentrification of Peckham thrown in for good measure.

Tom Bennett and Paul Whitehouse as Del Boy and Grandad in the new Only Fools and Horses musical
Image: Paul Whitehouse (R) pictured with Tom Bennett co-wrote the musical

Whitehouse and co-stars Tom Bennett and Ryan Hutton, who play Del and Rodney, were watched by former stars including John Challis, the original Boycie, for the premiere of the show on Tuesday evening.

“We’ve really enjoyed every minute of it,” Whitehouse told Sky News. “It’s high energy, a high octane show. We deliver all the gags we can. It’s a celebration of Only Fools and it’s a privilege to do…

“But I’m knackered. I’m not getting any younger, you know.”

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Whitehouse: It’s a privilege, but I’m knackered

Whitehouse said he was determined to do Only Fools justice when he took on the role, admitting he was “wary” to start with and that he wanted to honour John Sullivan’s legacy.

And Bennett says it was the “ultimate” pressure stepping into Del’s shoes – and sheepskin coat.

“But I feel very honoured and privileged to have that pressure put on me,” he told Sky News. “There is only one Del Boy, that’s Sir David. He, combined with John, created this incredible character who will be loved forever.”

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The musical centres around the story of when Del meets Raquel, pulling other classic moments into the mix – including, unsurprisingly, the famous bar fall.

Jo Brand
Brand: I’m more like Granddad

Bennett has Del’s mannerisms and plonker pronunciation down to a fine art, but says he was conscious not to make his performance an impression.

“You go back and you watch Only Fools but the trick is not to fall down a rabbit hole… otherwise you can get stuck.

“The trick was to take things I knew and loved about Sir David’s performance and hang things off those catchphrases and mannerisms.

“If you just do an impression for two hours, I couldn’t do it and the audience would be bored rigid.

“Only Fools is about heart so you’ve got to care for these characters.”

Ray Winstone
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David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst didn’t attend the premiere, with the musical cast members saying they chose to stay out of the spotlight.

But the musical certainly gets Boycie’s seal of approval.

John Challis
Image: John Challis was the original Boycie

Speaking after the show, Challis said: “It was very moving, very funny, some great little songs in it.

“Boycie was absolutely brilliant, I thought. So I’m getting out of the profession now.”

And what would Boycie himself make of their West End debut? “Well, he’d be indifferent and spend most of his time in the bar.”

Lovely jubbly.

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