|"Time on Our Hands"
|Only Fools and Horses episode
|Original air date
|29 December 1996
"Time on Our Hands" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses . First screened on 29 December 1996, it was the final episode of that year's Christmas trilogy and the fifteenth Christmas special overall. It attracted a television audience of 24.3 million, a record for a British sitcom. In the episode, the Trotters finally become millionaires. It had initially been intended to be the series finale, but creator John Sullivan wrote three more specials that were screened annually between 2001 and 2003, starting with "If They Could See Us Now".
This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed.(February 2023)
A nervous Raquel plans the visit of her parents, James and Audrey, for dinner at the flat, and worries about them meeting Del Boy for the first time. Del and Albert reassure her that they will help out. Del is still worried about Rodney after he and Cassandra had suffered a miscarriage two weeks previously, and Albert suggests that they come up with a "counter-worry" to take his mind off it, which leads to Del pretending to be ill, though Rodney barely notices.
Later that day, Rodney is cataloguing stock in the Trotters' garage. Rodney wishes that something good would turn up in their lives. Del says that life is not like that. He picks out an old pocket watch to illustrate his point that their lives will not suddenly get better, out of the blue. Del tosses the watch onto a gas cooker.
Del and Rodney return to their block of flats but the lift breaks down. After being trapped in there for some time, the two brothers have a discussion about Rodney and Cassandra's miscarriage. A distraught Rodney confesses that he has spent too much time feeling sorry for himself since Cassandra lost their baby. Del comforts Rodney by telling him that it is just "a dropped stitch in life's tapestry", which he claims their late mother Joan used to say whenever things went wrong, and assures him that things will get better. Rodney agrees and is finally at peace with the situation, and Del suggests that Rodney goes home and has a heart-to-heart with Cassandra. Once the conversation is over, Del successfully fixes the lift himself, and gets it working again. Only then does Rodney realise that Del had in fact tampered with the controls, in order to force Rodney to talk. The Trotter brothers share a hearty laugh.
That evening, James and Audrey Turner, Raquel's parents, arrive for the meal, and all appears to be going well. However, whilst moving the coffee that Albert has prepared in the kitchen, Del discovers that it is actually gravy, and thus the "gravy" that the guests are pouring on their dinners is in fact coffee. The dinner ruined, all around the table politely mention that they are full up (apart from young Damien who exclaims, "this is horrible!"). When picking up his car from the Trotters' garage the following day, antiques dealer James spots the old pocket watch. It is engraved "Harrison". After closer examination, he suggests that it may be the work of John Harrison, the man who designed and built the world's first successful maritime clock in the 18th century.
The watch is examined by experts, and all accept it to be the Harrison "lesser watch", a semi-mythical piece for which designs exist but there is no clear evidence the watch was ever made. It goes to auction at Sotheby's and after hearing the opening bid of £150,000 (a full £110,000 higher than Del's highest estimate), Del promptly faints. After recovering, he and Rodney rush back into the auction room, with the bidding still going on. The latest bid is revealed to be £3,250,000; it then goes up to £3,500,000 (which Del thinks is £350,000). It then rises to £4,000,000 and Rodney, too, faints. It emerges that the final bid was £6,200,000 (around £3,100,000 each). "We've had worse days", states Del, when Rodney rereads the Sotheby's statement in the Reliant van, and the two brothers begin whooping hysterically, rocking the van with their overjoyed lunacy as their dreams of being millionaires finally comes true.
Del and Rodney visit Boycie's car showroom and, unaware of their new fortune, he teases them about having their photograph taken next to one of his new Rolls-Royces. Wanting to pay his older brother back for helping him throughout his life (including getting over Cassandra's miscarriage), Rodney pays £70,000 for the car as a gift for Del, stunning Boycie into silence when he shows him proof of their new wealth. Later, the Trotters visit The Nag's Head pub, and receive a round of applause and a standing ovation from all of the regulars.
The final scenes, against a backdrop of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song "Our House", show the Trotters enjoying their new life. Del and Raquel move into a mansion while Rodney and Cassandra buy a luxury apartment on the banks of the River Thames. They buy Uncle Albert an expensive yacht, which he promptly crashes into a bridge on the river.
Del sombrely returns to their now empty flat in Nelson Mandela House, and quietly recalls the memories from the flat over the years, hearing quotes from their mother Joan (from a specially recorded voiceover), their father Reg (from "Thicker Than Water"), and Grandad (from "Big Brother"). Rodney also returns, and Del reveals that he is already beginning to miss the old life as a market trader. Albert returns to the flat to get some of his belongings as well to have one last look, and the three leave, though not before Del has answered a call from Lenny Norris offering them 250 carpet steamers. Del is initially eager, but Rodney reminds his older brother that they are not in the business any longer. Del poignantly tells Lenny that "Trotters Independent Traders has ceased trading."
The three men decide to walk to the local Chinese restaurant for a meal. As they set off, Del states that rather than the end for them, it is only just the beginning as they should now invest their new money in the futures market (making one last claim that this was one of the many things his mother Joan said, on her deathbed). The three continue to playfully argue about this as they walk off into an animated sunrise, as Del proclaims that it is their "big chance", and ending with the closing refrain: "This time next year, we could be billionaires!".
This was initially billed as the series finale of Only Fools and Horses and was watched by 24.3 million viewers, nearly half the population of the country at the time and the highest recorded viewing figure for a comedy in the United Kingdom.
Note: In the VHS and DVD versions, the track "Our House" is replaced by a cover version by Helen Reddy.
Derek Edward Trotter, more commonly known as Del Boy, is a fictional character from the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses and one of the main characters of its spinoff series, Rock & Chips. He was played by David Jason in the original series and was portrayed as a teenager by James Buckley in the prequel. Del Boy is often regarded as one of the greatest comedy characters in the history of British television, and is regarded as an iconic character in British culture. In a 2001 poll conducted by Channel 4 Del Boy was ranked fourth on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters.
Albert Gladstone Trotter, better known as Uncle Albert, is a fictional character in the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, portrayed by Buster Merryfield. He was introduced during the fourth series as a replacement for the character of Grandad due to the sudden death of Lennard Pearce in 1984.
Rodney Charlton Trotter is a fictional character in the long running BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, played by Nicholas Lyndhurst.
"The Jolly Boys' Outing" is the eighth Christmas special episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, first screened on 25 December 1989. Despite being aired as a Christmas special, it is set on an August bank holiday weekend, and sees Del and the gang go on a road trip to Margate.
"Chain Gang" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the third episode of series 6, and was first broadcast on 22 January 1989. In the episode, Del puts together a consortium to buy a set of 18 carat gold chains from a retired jeweller.
"Fatal Extraction" is the twelfth Christmas special episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, first broadcast on 25 December 1993. In the episode, Raquel leaves Del so in response he asks out another woman. When he and Raquel are reconciled, Del becomes convinced that the woman is stalking him.
"Modern Men" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the second episode of the 1996 Christmas trilogy and the fourteenth Christmas special, first screened on 27 December 1996. In the episode, Del Boy is a reading a new lifestyle book, Modern Man. Later, Cassandra suffers a miscarriage.
"The Class of '62" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the fourth episode of series 7, and was first broadcast on 20 January 1991. In the episode, Del Boy, Rodney, Boycie, Denzil and Trigger attend a school reunion which, to their surprise, has been arranged by Roy Slater.
Cassandra Louise Trotter is a fictional character from the British sitcom Only Fools and Horses. She is portrayed by Gwyneth Strong.
"Strangers on the Shore...!" is An episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, first screened on 25 December 2002 as the second part of the early 2000s Christmas trilogy, the seventeenth Christmas special and the 63rd episode of the series.
"Sleepless in Peckham...!" is the final episode of BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was first screened on 25 December 2003 as the third and final part of the early 2000s Christmas trilogy, and as the eighteenth and final Christmas special. It was the last Only Fools and Horses-related episode until the Sport Relief special in March 2014.
"Rodney Come Home" is the ninth Christmas special episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, first screened on 25 December 1990.
"Danger UXD" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the second episode of series 6 and first broadcast on 15 January 1989. In the episode, Del acquires a batch of faulty sex dolls, which have inadvertently been filled with an explosive gas.
"Watching the Girls Go By" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the sixth episode of series 4 and first broadcast on 28 March 1985. In the episode Rodney, egged on by Del, bets Mickey Pearce that he can find a date for an upcoming party and Del decides to help him win the bet.
"The Sky's the Limit" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the first episode of series 7, and first broadcast on 30 December 1990. In the episode, Del acquires a satellite dish for Boycie, unaware that it has been stolen from Gatwick Airport.
"The Chance of a Lunchtime" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the second episode of series 7 and first broadcast on 6 January 1991. In the episode, Raquel auditions for a role in a Shakespeare play. Elsewhere, Del tries to sell musical national anthem doorbells.
"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the fifth episode of series 7, and was first broadcast on 27 January 1991. In the episode, Uncle Albert comes home claiming to have been mugged and, thinking he has become a burden, decides to leave Nelson Mandela House.
"Three Men, a Woman and a Baby" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the final episode of series 7 and was first broadcast on 3 February 1991. This is the last episode of the last regular series, although Christmas specials were broadcast intermittently until 2003. In this episode, the birth of Del and Raquel's baby is imminent. Damien Trotter appears in the show for the first time in the episode's finale.
"Five Gold Rings" is the second episode of the Rock & Chips trilogy and the series' only Christmas Special. It was first aired on 29 December 2010.