Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
He's won countless awards, achieved huge viewing figures and is loved by millions for his portrayal of lanky Rodney Trotter, but Nicholas Lyndhurst was originally reticent about being involved in another project with the Only Fools team – that is until he read the script. Here he talks about how Rock & Chips was cooked up.
You have had huge success playing Rodney Trotter. Were you always destined to play the man thought to be his father, Freddie Robdal?
"We've all seen prequels and spin-offs, and sometimes they work and a lot of times they don't, so I wasn't too sure that I wanted to be involved. I held off making a commitment until I'd seen a script and when it arrived I was really quite scared to start reading it. But when I read it, I knew I'd kill to do the part. It's just a brilliant piece of writing."
This film is set in 1960, did you know much about this era?
"John Sullivan started talking about this idea about nine years ago when he had an idea during the filming of Only Fools. The Sixties is John's era, his heyday, and this film reflects his interest in the Sixties so much. I was born in 1961, so it's obviously before my time but I read up a lot before we started filming. We think we all know the Sixties – about The Beatles and London, the Swinging Sixties – but this is before all of that – an era of deprivation when there was still rationing from the war and bomb sites hadn't been cleared. John has written about it so warmly and it's a fascinating piece. Viewers are in for one hell of a show even if they have no interest in Only Fools And Horses."
What did you know about Freddie before you started?
"I didn't know much but it's clear from whenever Del does talk about him in Only Fools that there's no love lost between them. Freddie's the type of person who gets what he wants and takes it when it's not given. He's a villain – charming, but nasty."
Is there any family resemblance to Rodney?
"No resemblance at all. They're from two entirely different suitcases as far as I'm concerned. I didn't want to bring into it anything that I'd already done with Rodney and fortunately there wasn't any opportunity to do so. They're like chalk and cheese."
What was it like working with James Buckley as the young Del?
"The team were very clever in casting all the young characters as they cast them not as individuals, but together, to see how they pinged off each other and what kind of chemistry they had. And, of course, they're all brilliant together. Not one of them tried to caricature what anyone did previously in Fools and they all bring a completely fresh appeal."
And Kellie Bright?
"Kellie Bright is brilliant in Rock & Chips. She is a fantastic actress and was an absolute gift to this show."
What did Rodney know of his mum?
"I don't think Rodney knew much about his mum. During filming I was reminded of an Only Fools scene where Rodney is visiting his mum's grave asking her if she loved Freddie. But I don't remember it very clearly – I hate watching myself on screen so I haven't watched as much Only Fools as many other people!"
Is it true that David Jason came on set?
"Yes, David came down on set but it was a really slow day so we spent most of it sitting around drinking coffee! Some days filming can be laboriously slow and this was one of those days – so he didn't get to see much but at least we got to have a good catch-up!"
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