North East academic bases university thesis on 'Only Fools and Horses'

Dr Matthew Bartley's thesis proves 'lovely jubbly' work as it is based on popular cockney sitcom 'Only Fools and Horses'

BBC Only Fools and Horses
Only Fools and Horses

A university thesis proved ‘lovely jubbly’ work for North East academic Dr Matthew Bartley.

His inspiration for it was cockney sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

Dr Bartley, an avid fan of David Jason’s Del Boy and his brother Rodney played by Nicholas Lyndhurst, based his PhD on the programme’s representation of community.

He said: “Only Fools and Horses is very community orientated, if you look at where they live in Peckham, where they work in the markets, where they drink in the Nags Head.

“They often talk about what it means to be a community, how they are part of a community and what they do to become part of a community.

“All the characters, especially Del, had aspirations and they are all great to have, but it can also create divisions among people and can feel like you’re excluding certain people.

“Community is a nice idea, but it often has its flaws and Only Fools and Horses is the prime example.”

Dr Matthew Bartley
Dr Matthew Bartley

Dr Bartley, 34, from Seaham, County Durham, looked at how ‘community’ is often viewed as a positive term, how that fitted in the sitcom, how community can also be a volatile place and whether the idea of community hindered the characters ambitions in the sitcom.

The sitcom centred on the dodgy market trader Del Boy, brother ‘Rodders’ and the rest of the Trotter clan who live in Nelson Mandela House and a host of Peckham characters including Boycie and Trigger who meet in the Nag’s Head pub.

It still holds the record for having the most viewers for a sitcom with 24.3 million people, more than a third of the UK population.

Dr Bartley’s thesis, There used to be streets here, as well, was for Sunderland University.

He said: “Throughout my studies I have always been keen to look at the aspect of community and how it is portrayed in TV dramas and comedy and how it compares to reality.

“Only Fools and Horses is one of the best, if not the best sitcom of all time and the characters just seemed natural to focus on.

“I’m a massive fan, it is a great comedy and perfect given the community setting.”

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