Saturday 17 March 2018

'Only Fools and Horses' set to hit American TV

Michael Howie

At last, Del Boy opens a US subsidiary.

The Reliant Robin never conquered the Midwest, and council tower blocks are often known in America as "projects". But US television executives are determined not to let these minor obstacles get in the way of plans to remake Only Fools and Horses for an American audience.

A pilot episode is said to be in the pipeline, written by Steven Cragg and Brian Bradley, writers and producers of the US hit series Happy Endings and Scrubs. The adaptation is sticking closely to the basic premise of the hit BBC 1 comedy, centring on "the misadventures of two streetwise brothers and their ageing grandfather as they concoct outrageous, morally questionable get-rich-quick schemes in a bid to become millionaires".

As most viewers can confirm, it's an accurate description of Derek and Rodney Trotter's hapless money-making antics. The question is whether a US audience will appreciate the nuances of this peculiarly British hit programme. That will depend on how skilfully the makers can adapt David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst's unique comic blend for an audience unlikely to have heard of Peckham.

Steve Carell, who played Michael Scott, the "David Brent character" in the US version of The Office, has already thrown his cap into ring, describing remaking the series as his "dream role". "The British do sitcoms better than anybody else in the world. I think with the right scriptwriters and cast we could do Only Fools and Horses justice. If anybody wants to help me do a remake I'd love it," said Carell, who starred in The-40-Year-Old Virgin.

But, with Carell the favourite to play the lead, who would fill Rodney's scuffed army surplus boots? Jason Biggs proved he can do Rodney-esque post-adolescent awkwardness as Jim in American Pie. And while having the required loftiness, he would also pass Hollywood's "good-looking geek" test. Then again, Michael Cera, 23, who did "cute and nerdy" in the hit movies Juno and Superbad, might be a better bet. With his proven ability at growing a Santa Claus-style shaggy beard, Robin Williams could be a shoo-in for Uncle Albert.

ABC's chances of pulling off the remake would appear to be middling, judging by America's record on importing British comedy. The US version of The Office was launched in 2005 to an initially bemused audience, but has become a success. Steptoe and Son, starring Harry H Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell, became the hit US show Sanford and Son, which ran from 1972 to 1977. However, American pilots of Dad's Army and Are You Being Served? were passed over.

The pilot Only Fools and Horses commission comes days after ABC also announced it was remaking the BBC 3 comedy White Van Man, while NBC is piloting its own version of Channel 4's Friday Night Dinner. Only Fools And Horses was broadcast on BBC 1 from 1981 to 1991, with sporadic Christmas specials until 2003. Thirty years on, who knows – perhaps the Reliant Robin will finally conquer America.

Delspeak: What he says, what he means, and what the US Del Boy might say...

Plonker - Idiot - Tool

Lovely jubbly - Superb - Fantastic

Dipstick - A fool - Schmuck

Cushty - Great - Aces

Wally - Dimwit - Dope

Triffic Fantastic - Awesome

Bird - Girl/woman - Chick/broad

Pukka- Good quality - Primo

Kosher - Genuine - Kosher

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