Only Fools and Horses: Who was John Sullivan’s inspiration for Rodney Trotter?

Only Fools and Horses: Del Boy and Rodney dress in costumes

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Only Fools and Horses remains a British classic and the sitcom aired for seven seasons until 2003. John Sullivan created the series, which originally aired on BBC One, and it followed the ambitious Trotters in their bid to make millions. One of the characters was particularly close to Sullivan’s own heart and has all you need to know.

Who was John Sullivan’s inspiration for Rodney Trotter?

Rodney Trotter (played by Nicholas Lyndhurst) was Del Boy’s (David Jason) socially awkward half-brother in the series.

The iconic character acted as Del’s sidekick, literally starring as the Robin to his Batman in one famous episode.

He appeared to be much smarter than his scheming brother, but he lacked Del’s charm.

Del acted as somewhat of a father figure to Rodney as he was orphaned as a child, and it put a strain on their relationship.

Rodney was dependant on his brother, which caused him to feel frustrated at times.

The character was one of the first to be cast, unlike the role of Del which had multiple candidates.

Sullivan partly based Rodney on his own experiences as he also had a sibling, with a big age gap between them.

The creator also admitted to being a dreamer who was full of ideas in his youth.

My London reported that the character was actually based on Sullivan’s brother.

He wanted the two brothers to have a large age gap in the final scripts for the series.

Januarymedia added: “Rodney Trotter’s day-dreaming and idealistic character was actually based on John Sullivan’s much older sibling who was said to have many of the same traits.

“Nicholas Lyndhurst was cast as Rodney Trotter early on in the pre-production of Only Fools and Horses.”

According to IMDb, the BBC were not sure at first about the casting of David Jason because he and Nicholas Lyndhurst looked nothing alike.

John Sullivan argued that Del needed to be shorter to remove any sense of “physical intimidation” between the brothers.

He also wanted to imply the “suspected illegitimacy” of the Trotters.

Back in 2010, Lyndhurst said he was keen to see the sitcom return and he enjoyed his role.

He told Digital Spy: “I have a real soft spot for Rodney. He never typecast me, and I never wanted to bury him.

“I would make another series of Only Fools and Horses if the script was good.”

The character made the actor a household name and he is still instantly recognisable as Rodney to this day.

Sullivan drew on many of his past experiences when creating the series, including his childhood.

He was from a working-class background and grew up in South London.

It was in his hometown of Balham that he observed the market traders that inspired the series.

A lot of the material for the scripts came from real-life experiences, including many of the mishaps that became iconic moments.

The creator died in 2011, at 64 years old, following a battle with pneumonia.

Only Fools and Horses is available to watch on Netflix, Britbox, Amazon Prime Video.

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