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I have got to hand it to Graham McCann, this man is clearly passionately in love with classic British comedy, and his outstanding publications on a wealth of them are a testament to this. If you buy one of his books, then you just know that you're going to get something good, and his 2011 chronicle on the nations favourite sitcom, 'Only Fools and Horses', is no exception.

To mark the landmark comedy's thirtieth anniversary, and to pay tribute to the genius who invented it, the then recently deceased John Sullivan, McCann wrote this comprehensive history book, which is a page-turner from it's prologue.

McCann tells the complete, behind-the-scenes story, beginning with writer John Sullivan and Ray Butt's genius idea of a new British sitcom, at a time (the start of the 1980s), when the future of this traditional TV genre was looking very bleak. He writes about the early life of Sullivan in sufficient, but never overly wordy detail, as well as those three wonderful actors, David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, and Lennard Pearce, whose careers had began to look rather uncertain before they landed the roles of Del Boy, Rodney, and Grandad.

I read this well researched book in just a few sittings, and truly lapped the 'Only Fools' story up from start to finish, finding all of the behind-the scenes information about how it all came together, and the reasons as to why certain changes had to be made as the show went on, absolutely fascinating. I learned a lot from it, and my respect for all the brilliant cast and crew only increased. There is no juicy, scandalous gossip to be found, this is a straight story, but told in an entertaining way, and a fitting tribute to John Sullivan, and his greatest, ground-breaking TV legacy. I have a lot of time for Graham McCann, and only wish that there were more quality biographers like him around. If you love 'Only Fools and Horses', then this is about as good a companion as we're likely to get, it's affectionate, very quick to praise, yet never afraid to be critical (which is often is, but never overly, or unjustly), and a book that you need in you're life.

There are two inserts of photographs inside, which consist of publicity shots, stills of the actors in their other notable roles, and the folk who worked behind the cameras. At the end of the book, you will find a comprehensive episode guide, with all the important information of such.
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on 10 May 2013
The clue is in the title. It's the story of the show, it's not a reference work full of facts and dry interviews. For anyone looking for an exhaustive reference work about Only Fools and Horses this is not for you, such books are already available. Too often this kind of book can be deadly dull. They can never be as funny as the subject they are written about and are often simply just a litany of facts about it. Graham McCann's book about Only Fools and Horses is much more than that. It provides a wealth of interesting background material on how the show came about, how some of the show's iconic moments came to be written and how they were performed. There's also material on the earlier careers of the writer and the main stars. Above all it is a very warm tribute to the late John Sullivan, and a well written one at that.

The author provides his own opinion of the show throughout. This is fair enough, it's not a reverential history and it provides an insight into why some of the show's quality varied. If you are a die-hard fan of OFAH and think it never put a foot wrong then this book will not be an easy read. If you are more realistic and accept that like everything else it had high points and low points, then this is a fascinating work on how a TV sitcom is created and produced, nearly disappears and then becomes probably the most popular British sitcom ever.

According to some reviewers the book contains some factual errors. If that is the case, perhaps they should point some of them out so we could all be aware. I'm sure the author would be interested and if the errors are substantiated could then update his book. Either way, it's not something that will bother the general reader.
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VINE VOICEon 21 July 2014
I enjoy the award laden BBC comedy Only Fools and Horses (OFAH) but I cannot commit to being a huge fan of how long the show went on for, nor the reverence it's given over other shows of its genre, hence why I thought that this book would provide a balanced view. It's an interesting view in parts for the comedy fan, telling little bits of background that I wasn't previously aware of and there are some nice reminiscences from key cast and crew. However, all too soon the author starts including his own political prejudges and the narrative suffers as a result. He also (inaccurately at times) describes the plot from most of the episodes which becomes rather boring after a while. I do agree with him about the way the show was revived over and over again and yes, the spin offs were generally a bit naff.

What made this book a three and not a four star read for me was the epilogue where the author bemoans the legacy of the show and manages to brand all comedy forum fans who discuss the various episodes and themes of the series as "the dourest of these obsessives" - hmm. He makes a fair enough point about how the continual showings on vintage channels such as Gold have ruined the immediacy and story arc of some of the series, but I guess that's how those channels make their money by selling advertising during the breaks? Yes, some people do study comedy, but surely making such people out to be rather pathetic he's somewhat alienating his future audience for all of the behind the scenes this author specialises in? I certainly won't be reading another if myself and other fans are held in such contempt?
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on 3 September 2013
Being a keen follower of OFAH,and yes watching the jumbled episodes of Gold I found this book enjoyable. I took to be an overview of the programme, and not a blow by blow account of each episode and how it came to fruition. This book is for the keen amateur, not the obsessive who will obviously have far greater knowledge of the series, and its nuances. I am not sure I would pay £20 for the book, price from Amazon, but for a good introduction to the genre, and overview of each episode, which I found useful as a reference point then this is a good starting point.
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on 19 June 2012
While accepting there are a few inaccuracies in terms of facts here and there, it doesn't detract from the average fan of OF&H really enjoying this book.

I laughed out loud at so many of the show's quotes - even when I knew what the punchline was going to be! Got a few odd looks around the pool where I was reading it.

Great show, great memories, great book - don't let a few minor errors put you off.
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on 22 July 2012
Great insight into the programme and its characters the trails and tribulations John Sullivan endured to come up with the masterpiece the show is.
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on 20 April 2013
I read this book with enthusiasm. I did not notice any of the aforementioned mistakes. I really enjoyed the anecdotes and history of the times.

I am surprised some reviewers are criticising the author for giving his views. After all this is not a reference book.

All in all, I found this book thoroughly enjoyable.
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on 17 November 2015
Graham McCann has done a wonderful job of taking us behind the scenes to one of Britain's best sitcoms.

I enjoyed reading about how only fools and horses was put together from script to screen and also hearing about inspirations for each of the characters.
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on 15 March 2012
I cannot fault the details of this book however it slips far too much into the authors personal opinions of each episode and even the actors abilities.

I also couldn't help but think the in depth telling of episodes was a way of bulking out the book in the absence of any exclusive interviews, etc from people involved in the show.

It's a nice book to have if you're a real fan but only new things I learnt were what the author thought about various things - even his opinion of the Thatcher years!
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on 23 March 2014
Graham McCann's book is a brilliant read. It gives the full background story to the long-running and very popular tv comedy, and helpfully provides a guide to every episode. A great publication!!
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