Ask me what my all time favourite comedy show is and like many other Brits, I’ll say ‘Only Fools and Horses’. And I say that with confidence because it was rated the number one favourite in a poll conducted by the BBC a few years ago.
It was a long running sitcom starring David Jason as ‘Del Trotter’ – a south (sauf) London wheeler-dealer who traded in whatever dodgey goods came his way, always hoping his next get-rich-quick scheme would come good and always failing hilariously. Del Boy had a heart of gold and somewhat unusually for a British sit-com, the scripts never shied away from a sentimental and touching moment. (Yeah, we do like to keep an upper lip stiff where possible). But I’d have thought Americans would accommodate and appreciate that foible very well, so I’ve always been surprised that the show has never made it over here.
I don’t think its age can be the problem. Long after shows like ‘Monty Python’, ‘Are You Being Served?’ and a strange offering about someone called ‘Mrs Bucket’ left British consciousness, they managed to emigrate and find a comfortable home here for many more years. And I can’t put it down to differences in our sense of humour/humor either. I just don’t buy the stuff about ‘mericans not getting irony (what nonsense!) and I just haven’t come across that many differences in our humour. Think of all the shows that have been huge hits on both sides of the puddle. (Where to start: Friends, Cheers, Rosanne, Simpsons, The Office, AbFab, AliG, Gavin & Stacey, Coupling, etc etc)
There are differences of course. Obviously I wouldn’t enjoy Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as much now if I hadn’t lived here for 14 years. Shared cultural experience matters, particularly with politics perhaps. But surely that doesn’t apply to ‘Only Fools and Horses’. Is it just the accent that’s the problem? Any thoughts?