Laugh along to the scripts of Only Fools and Horses, Yes Minister and Father Ted

All this week we’re bringing you scripts of the TV gems that had the nation shaking with laughter.

Today, the Mail’s TV critic, Christopher Stevens, starts with an Only Fools And Horses classic, which might just be the best sitcom moment ever — when market trader Del Boy (David Jason) and his gormless brother Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst) emerge from the mist dressed as Batman and Robin.

Del and Rodney are on their way to Harry’s fancy dress party. Their battered Reliant Robin van passes by — at this point we don’t know what costumes they are wearing to the party. 

The van backfires loudly. We hear conversation from inside it.

RODNEY: I feel stupid! I don’t know how we got out of the estate without being seen.

DEL: Don’t worry, we’ll be there in a minute.

As Del approaches the bonnet, we now see him in all his glory. He is dressed as Batman, complete with hood and cape. He checks the street, then opens the bonnet. Rodney pops his head out of the open passenger-side window

RODNEY: Yes, but then we’ve got to get home dressed like this!

DEL: Who’s gonna see us at five in the morning?

RODNEY: Yeah, suppose so. Five in the morning? You said we’re only going for a couple of hours.

DEL: Yes, but you get involved, don’t you?

The van coughs and croaks a few times, then splutters to a halt.

RODNEY: What’s happening?

DEL: There must be something wrong.

RODNEY: I wish I was mechanically minded like you.

DEL: I’ll open the bonnet, you go an’ have a look at the engine.

RODNEY: Go an’ have a look at the … I’m not getting out the van dressed like this!

DEL: No one’ll see you. Look, the street’s empty.

RODNEY: At the moment! But I’ll guarantee you the minute we step out of this van a thousand people’ll pour out of a … of a … of a place where a thousand people are! You have a look, it’s your van!

DEL: You tart, Rodney.

We see the driver’s door open and Del’s foot covered in a suede, elf-like bootie. As Del approaches the bonnet, we now see him in all his glory. 

He is dressed as Batman, complete with hood and cape. He checks the street, then opens the bonnet. 

Rodney pops his head out of the open passenger-side window. He is dressed as Robin, with eye-mask, etc.

RODNEY: See anything?

DEL: Gimme a chance. Can’t see a thing here in the dark.

Rodney alights from the passenger side and joins Del, cautiously checking that no passer-by will see him dressed as Robin. 

Del has removed something from the top of the engine. He now produces a lighter and snaps the flame on to give him some light.

RODNEY: (Innocently at this point) What you looking for?

DEL: I’m tryin’ to see if the petrol’s getting through to the carburettor.

There is a short pause before Rodney’s eyes widen in horror. He leaps back.

RODNEY: You idiot! You could blow us to kingdom come!

DEL: Don’t be daft! There’s no petrol coming through, is there? There’s a blockage, that’s why we’ve broken down. Quick, back in the van — I don’t want people seeing you dressed like that. You look like a right plonker.

They both scamper back into the van.

DEL: (Almost as if it’s Rodney’s fault) What are we gonna do now, eh?

RODNEY: I don’t know, Derek! We are sat in the middle of Peckham at 10.30 at night, dressed up as Batman and Robin! You — you chose these costumes! I wanted to go as the Blues Brothers!

DEL: Rodney, we’d have still broken down and been in this embarrassing situation, wouldn’t we?

RODNEY: Oh yeah! We’d have both been wearing suits and ties — right couple of zooms we’d have looked!

DEL: But we’d never have won first prize as the Blues Brothers!

RODNEY: At least we could have walked home!

DEL: Stop moaning. We’ve got to think of a way out of this.

RODNEY: All right, let’s think about it.

Produces mobile phone.

RODNEY: We phone the RAC.

DEL: Yes, ask to be put through to their ‘Broken Down Whilst Dressed As A Couple Of Prats’ department?

RODNEY: All right then. The police?

DEL: The police? We’d never live it down, Rodney. Our lives would be hell! We’d have to emigrate.

RODNEY: At this particular moment in time, that doesn’t sound a bad alternative.

DEL: There’s always a way, Rodney. Let’s sit here and think.

RODNEY: The pubs’ll be chucking out soon. They’ll tear us to shreds.

DEL: Tell you what, old Harry’s house is nearer than any other place. If we run we could be there in five minutes.

RODNEY: But we’ll be seen! People on buses, people in restaurant windows.

DEL: No. Not if we go through the back streets and the alleys. All you got down there are winos and crackheads and let’s face it, they see Batman and Robin every night of the week. Come on, we can do it.

RODNEY: Five minutes?

DEL: Five minutes if we hurry.

RODNEY: Oh jeez!

They are on a street that runs past the back of the town hall. Parked opposite, close to an alley, is a modern car. The back door to the town hall is opened by a commissionaire and Councillor Murray exits, carrying handbag and briefcase.

CLLR MURRAY: I’m going now Tom.

COMMISSIONAIRE: I’ll see you out. Goodnight, Councillor Murray.

CLLR MURRAY: Good night, Tom.

The door closes and Councillor Murray makes her way across the road to the car. She stops at the driver’s door and opens her handbag for the car keys. At this point, Dawn (the girl member of the mugging gang) rushes round the corner, apparently in a wild panic.

DAWN: Sorry, Miss, you seen a policeman round here?

MURRAY: No, I haven’t!

Immediately Gary (the leader) steps out from behind the corner.

GARY: Good! Giss your money!

Cllr Murray: What are you doing? (Calls) Tom!

The other members of the gang, Scott and Kevin, have now appeared and the mugging begins.


SCOTT: Someone shut her up!

GARY: Get her handbag!

Dawn puts her hand round Murray’s mouth. Scott now sees something up the road that makes him freeze in incredulity. He nudges Gary.

SCOTT: Gary!

He gestures up the road. Gary looks and freezes. Dawn, Kevin and now Murray all do likewise. 

We see from their point of view — 200 yards away, Batman and Robin are running towards them.

GARY: (Incredulously) What’s happening?

CLLR MURRAY: (Equally incredulously) I haven’t the faintest idea!

GARY: (Terrified, to rest of gang) Go!

The gang run off, leaving Murray open-mouthed in disbelief. Batman and Robin run past her. Batman then stops, and Robin stops a bit farther on.

DEL: Councillor Murray?

Cllr Murray: (Frightened) Yes.

DEL: I recognise you from your photograph. Derek Trotter — you may remember I wrote to you some time ago about a …

RODNEY: Del, let’s go!

DEL: Yes. Well, sorry, must dash. Maybe another time?

Batman and Robin rush off. Murray watches them, still in total shock.

Later that night in the hallway of a big house . . . The door to the main room is closed. All we can hear is the sound of polite, muted conversation. The front doorbell rings. Boycie exits the main room. 

He is dressed in a black two-piece suit, white shirt and black kipper tie. He opens the front door and Del and Rodney enter. 

At first Boycie is surprised, but he now allows himself a little smile.

DEL: Oh Boycie, let us in, will you?

BOYCIE: What have you two come as, then?

RODNEY: (Innocently) Batman and Robin.

DEL: Ignore him, Rodders. Just ignore him. Where is everyone?

BOYCIE: (Points to main room) Straight through there, Caped Crusader.

DEL: You ain’t gonna win nothing dressed like that. (To Rodney) Amazing, innit? We’ve come as Batman and Robin and Boycie’s come as the Penguin…

Del and Rodney move towards the door checking themselves in the mirror first.

BOYCIE: (Quietly) Oh no, Del Boy — not the Penguin. More like the Joker.

In the main room of the big house . . . We find a crowd of people of various ages sipping drinks and engaged in polite conversation. They are all dressed in black — this is, in fact, a wake. Mike approaches Kenny, Harry (the host’s) son. Kenny is 50.

MIKE: Kenny. Mike from the Nag’s Head. I was really cut up yesterday when I heard about your Dad. Still, at least he didn’t suffer.

KENNY: No. He had a good innings and he’d have been well chuffed to see all his family and friends turn up for his wake like this.

Now the double doors from the hall open and Del and Rodney enter.

DEL & RODNEY: Da da da da da da da da.

Rodney stops singing as he sees the crowd.

DEL: Da da da Batman! Da da da … (The song dies on his lips.)

Boycie has followed them in.

BOYCIE: Derek. Harry died yesterday.

DEL: He di…? Why didn’t you tell us that out there in the hall, instead of letting us run in here like that?

RODNEY: Yeah. We were going da da da da and all that!

BOYCIE: It completely slipped my mind. Strange what grief can do.

Now laughs but realises laughter is out of place. Boycie exits into the crowd. Del and Rodney remain looking and feeling silly. Now Kenny approaches.

KENNY: Del. I don’t know if you remember me. I’m Kenny, Harry’s son.

DEL: Yeah, course I remember you.

KEN: I phoned round everyone to tell ’em the party was off. I left four or five messages on your answer machine. Obviously you didn’t get ’em.

RODNEY: No. The machine’s been playing up.

DEL: I’m gonna get shot of that bloody machine. Look, Kenny, I’m sorry about all this.

KENNY: Don’t be silly. The old man’s most probably up there now having a bloody good laugh at you all. You’ll stay, won’t you?

DEL: Oh yeah, of course.

KENNY: Grab yourself a drink and something to eat.

DEL: All right, cheers.

Kenny moves into the crowd. Denzil appears.

DENZIL: Didn’t you know Harry had died?

DEL: Of course we knew Harry had died! That’s why we’ve come dressed as Batman and Thingy!

RODNEY: Robin.

DEL: Yeah! I suppose the prizegiving’s off now?

RODNEY: I love him. Bloody love him.

Trigger arrives wearing a black suit, white shirt and black tie. He approaches Del and Rodney and shows no reaction to the way they are dressed.

TRIGGER: All right Del, Dave. Bit of a choker, innit, old Harry popping off like that?

RODNEY: Yeah. We didn’t know the fancy dress party had been cancelled.

TRIGGER: Me neither.

RODNEY: You mean, that’s your costume?

TRIGGER: Yeah, I come as a chauffeur. I feel a bit stupid now.

DEL: Yeah, you do stand out a bit. I’ll get us a drink.

TRIGGER: I don’t think you and Del would have won first prize.


TRIGGER: No. You’re all right, but Del don’t look nothing like Tonto.

Oh my God…we’re in lingerie!

Not many Christmas sitcom specials inspire real-life pilgrimages. 

But the 1996 episode of Father Ted that saw eight priests lost and panicking in the lingerie section of a department store has achieved legendary status in Ireland… with one councillor calling for the shop where it was filmed to be declared a national heritage site. 

In 2014, the Green Party’s Cllr Brian Meaney campaigned for Dunnes Stores in the centre of Ennis, Co Clare, to be recognised as a tourism landmark. 

‘Father Ted has a cult following at this stage,’ he said. Sadly, ‘Ireland’s largest lingerie section’ is now the fruit and veg department. 

Dermot Morgan played Father Ted, with Ardal O’Hanlon as Father Dougal and Frank Kelly as Father Jack.

Father Ted and Father Dougal are Christmas shopping in a department store. Foul-mouthed Father Jack made the trip too but isn’t with them.

TED: I thought I’d buy some perfume for Mrs Doyle.

DOUGAL: Good idea, Ted. Perfume is the ideal ‘woman’ present, isn’t it?

TED: Yessss. Well, that’s why God invented perfume, so you don’t have to put any thought into it whatsoever. Oh, where’d you manage to stick Jack in the end?

DOUGAL: Oh, they’ve got this great place, Ted, where you can put people who don’t want to go shopping. They can just stay there and have a laugh.

TED: Really? I’ve never heard of that. Were there other people there?

DOUGAL: Oh, loads of people, Ted. He’ll be fine.

They move out of shot. In the department store creche we see Jack sitting against a wall. There are about a dozen children in with him, playing with blocks and messing about. 

Jack smokes a fag and looks quite happy. Dougal and Ted are still walking through the store.

TED: Perfume… perfume.

DOUGAL: You think you’d be able to smell it. Ted … where exactly are we now?

TED: Well, we’re in the … in the … (Ted looks around, suddenly terrified) … Oh, my God.

A sign over their heads reads ‘lingerie’. Ted looks around, panicking slightly.

TED: We’re in lingerie. Dougal, we’re in lingerie.

Not many Christmas sitcom specials inspire real-life pilgrimages. But the 1996 episode of Father Ted that saw eight priests lost and panicking in the lingerie section of a department store has achieved legendary status in Ireland

Not many Christmas sitcom specials inspire real-life pilgrimages. But the 1996 episode of Father Ted that saw eight priests lost and panicking in the lingerie section of a department store has achieved legendary status in Ireland

DOUGAL: What’s the problem there, Ted?

TED: (As he ushers Dougal along) Well, think about it Dougal. Two priests hanging around near women’s secret things. It just doesn’t look good.

They start walking quickly.

TED: Where’s the exit? Oh, God, look, we’re in bras! (Dougal looks around, wide-eyed.) This way … oh, no, that’s … more underpants! Why in God’s name do they need so many kinds of underpants! What, do they parade around in them, looking in mirrors all the time?

Dougal thinks about this, drifting off. They round a corner and see two other priests looking at lingerie.

TED: Billy? Terry?

BILLY: Ted? Ted Crilly?

BOTH: How’s it going? Hello, there…

TED: Good to see you both. This is Father Dougal McGuire.

BILLY: Hello, Father Dougal.

DOUGAL: Hello, Father Dougal!?… What?

TED: No, that’s you, Dougal, You’re Father Dougal.

DOUGAL: Oh, right.

Funny fact

Alan Partridge creator Steve Coogan turned down the chance of a role on Father Ted, as a TV presenter when the priests enter ‘Eurosong’.

The decision, he says, ‘is one of my bitterest regrets.’ 

TED: We got lost a bit in the store. That’s how we ended up here. We got lost. I suppose that’s what happened to you as well.

Billy and Terry exchange a glance.

BILLY: Hmmmm… ? Lost? Yeaaaahhhh, that’s it.

TERRY (Simultaneous with Billy) We got lost, that’s it.

TED: I don’t suppose you’d know the way out of here?

BILLY: Eh … this way?

TED: No, we just came that way.

TERRY: It’s Ireland’s biggest lingerie section, I understand.

TED: Really?

TERRY: Yes … I read that… somewhere…

TED: Well, I just think it’d be a good idea to get out as quickly as possible. Four priests hanging around the frillies section…

BILLY: Yes, I… I see what you mean.

TED: Let’s try this way…

To dramatic music, they start walking through the aisles.

In the creche Jack is idly playing with building blocks, still surrounded by kids. We can see that he has spelt out the words ‘Feck’, ‘Arse’, ‘Drink’ and ‘Girls’ with the blocks.

Back to our heroes in the lingerie section. Everywhere they look, though, they just see more lingerie.

TED: Ohhh, wait a second, we’ve been here… I remember those bras the first time round.

DOUGAL: God, they all look the same to me.

TED: No, no. These ones have double padding and the black lace outline with the little cotton supports and the extra strength straps. If we pass by any bras with a middle arch support and single padding, along with a white lace outline, we’ll know we’re on the right track.

BILLY: Someone’s coming!

TED: Damn!

Before they can bolt away, they see another four priests coming around the corner.

TED: Oh my God.

They walk up to the priests and exchange greetings, shaking hands in a military, manlike way. The new priests are Father Deegan, Father Cleary, Father Reilly and Father Fitzgerald.

TED: What happened to you?

CLEARY: We were looking for the toilets and we wandered in here by mistake. How do you get out? It’s huge!

TERRY: It’s Ireland’s biggest lingerie section, I understand.

TED: All right. This is the situation. Eight priests wandering around a lingerie section. If it was just one or two of us, well, that’d be embarrassing, but with the eight of us… I think we’re talking national scandal.

DEEGAN: What are we going to do? All the aisles look the same.

TED: It’s no use panicking. We’re in this thing, let’s try and get out of it. Billy, you go on point. Father Cleary, Father Deegan, I want you at the back. All right, let’s go. And keep it quiet.

Are you saying Happy Christmas, Humphrey? Yes Minister

The sublime verbosity of Yes Minister was never better than in this short special from 1982. 

It has everything — not least, of course, the marvellous cast of Paul Eddington as Jim Hacker and Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds as his smoothly patronising civil servants Sir Humphrey and Bernard. 

Despite their assistance, Hacker continued to climb the greasy pole of politics and became Prime Minister. 

In 1988 he delivered a speech to camera that began, ‘Christmas is a special time — a time for children, a time for families.’ 

Breaking off, he demanded to know who had come up with ‘this drivel’… only to be told that he’d written it himself. 

‘Oh,’ mused Hacker, adjusting his tie and searching as always for a political excuse, ‘I must have been drunk.’

Jim Hacker, the Minister for Administrative Affairs, is sitting at his desk and opening a Christmas card. Standing alongside him is his Principal Private Secretary, Bernard Woolley.

JIM HACKER: Is that the lot Bernard?

BERNARD: Well before you go home for the holidays Minister, Sir Humphrey has something to say to you.

He looks confused, takes off his glasses. Bernard opens the door to let in the Minister’s Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, who enters holding a sheaf of papers.

SIR HUMPHREY: Ah, thank you, Bernard

Despite their assistance, Hacker continued to climb the greasy pole of politics and became Prime Minister. In 1988 he delivered a speech to camera that began, ‘Christmas is a special time — a time for children, a time for families'

Despite their assistance, Hacker continued to climb the greasy pole of politics and became Prime Minister. In 1988 he delivered a speech to camera that began, ‘Christmas is a special time — a time for children, a time for families’

He puts his papers down on the desk, remains standing while he addresses the minister.

SIR HUMPHREY: I wonder if I might crave your momentary indulgence in order to discharge a by no means disagreeable obligation, which has over the years become more or less established practice within government circles as we approach the terminal period of the year calendar, of course, not financial, in fact, not to put too fine a point on it, week 51.

The Minister continues to look baffled.

SIR HUMPHREY: And submit to you with all appropriate deference for your consideration at a convenient juncture a sincere and sanguine expectation, indeed confidence, indeed one might go so far as to say, hope, that the aforementioned period may be at the end of the day, when all relevant factors have been taken into consideration, susceptible of being deemed to be such as to merit a final verdict of having been by no means unsatisfactory in its overall outcome, and in the final analysis to give grounds for being judged, on mature reflection, to have been conducive to generating a degree of gratification which will be seen in retrospect to have been significantly higher than the general average.

JIM HACKER: (To Bernard) What’s he talking about?

BERNARD: Well Minister, I think Sir Humphrey just wanted to crave your momentary indulgence in order to discharge a by no means disagreeable obligation…

JIM HACKER: (Interrupts) All right, all right, Bernard. But Humphrey…

SIR HUMPHREY: At the end of the day, minister, all things being…

JIM HACKER: Just a minute…

SIR HUMPHREY: Yes Minister?

JIM HACKER: Are you saying Happy Christmas?

SIR HUMPHREY: Yes, Minister.

Did you send all those Christmas cards to yourself?

With her shrill cry on the telephone of, ‘Bouquet residence! The lady of the house speaking,’ Patricia Routledge created one of the most recognisable characters in sitcom. 

Hyacinth Bucket came from common stock (and that’s putting it politely) but she would never admit it. She wouldn’t dream of letting her henpecked husband Richard (Clive Swift) admit it either. 

In this first of four festive editions Hyacinth has one ambition — she simply wants to be Mrs Father Christmas. The scene is the doorstep of 22, Blossom Avenue, the Bucket’s four-bedroomed bungalow.

HYACINTH: (Greeting the postman) More Christmas cards! Good Heavens… so many friends. Postman turns to leave.

HYACINTH: Just a minute… (Counting the cards) That makes 112! That must be a record. If anyone else down the avenue starts boasting about how many Christmas cards they’ve had, I trust you’ll remember my record.

POSTMAN: Yes madam. (The postman makes to leave again)

HYACINTH: ‘Cause you’re only temporary. My regular postman, he would know best where to mention my record of 112.

POSTMAN: I’ll pass the word around.


POSTMAN: (Mockingly) I’ll tell everybody.

HYACINTH: Don’t over do it! I was never one to boast. And a very Merry Christmas!

Long-suffering husband Richard is in the lounge dusting when his wife enters the room singing The Holly and the Ivy looking at her post.

RICHARD: More Christmas cards? Are they genuine or are they those that you’ve written to yourself?

With her shrill cry on the telephone of, ‘Bouquet residence! The lady of the house speaking,’ Patricia Routledge created one of the most recognisable characters in sitcom

With her shrill cry on the telephone of, ‘Bouquet residence! The lady of the house speaking,’ Patricia Routledge created one of the most recognisable characters in sitcom

HYACINTH: I regard it as a service to those people who may have misplaced my address. I’m sure they’d like to think they had sent me a card!

The telephone rings.

HYACINTH: Now, put those up will you, dear.

RICHARD: Where? (Looking around at all the cards on every surface of the living room) 

Hyacinth leaves the lounge to answer the phone. Continues singing Christmas carols as she picks up the receiver.

HYACINTH: The Bouquet residence, the lady of the house speaking. (It’s her son) Sheridan, how lovely to hear from you, dear.

RICHARD: (Popping his head around the door) He’s had all the Christmas money he’s getting.

HYACINTH: (Holding the phone to her chest so Sheridan won’t hear) No one’s mentioned money, he’s just ringing his mummy. (On the phone again)

Yes dear it’s going to be the usual hectic Christmas. Popularity has its penalties.

Richard sighs and goes back into the living room.

HYACINTH: I’ve already had to find room for 112 cards! And this will be the first Christmas without you, dear. I don’t know how mummy will cope.

RICHARD: (Eavesdropping and muttering loudly to himself) If he asks for more money, I don’t know how daddy will cope!

HYACINTH: Well I knew that one day you’d grow up and leave us.

RICHARD: You call this leaving us?

HYACINTH: (Still on phone) Only I didn’t realise you’d be going quite so far away. Oh yes, I think it’s splendid of you and Tarquin to go and help rebuild Romania but do wear something warm, dear. You need how much?

Richard turns his head.

HYACINTH: Then ring me from Romania. Reverse the charges! 

Richard turns around and walks off. The scene changes to the living room of the Bucket’s neighbours, Elizabeth and her brother Emmett.

EMMETT: Richard is walking about the garden beating himself on the head.

ELIZABETH: Oh he often does that!

EMMETT: I’m not surprised… If I had to live with Hyacinth I think I’d often do that.

ELIZABETH: Sometimes after I’ve been there, I find myself doing that!

EMMETT: Poor Richard, the man needs a break. After all it is Christmas. In the Bucket’s living room Hyacinth opens a box and pulls out a Father Christmas costume.

RICHARD: Are you sure about this?

HYACINTH: The old folks will be when you’re distributing their gifts. Now do try and show a little Christmas enthusiasm, Richard!

Funny fact

Kerry Howard starred in 2016 as Young Hyacinth in a one-off BBC1 special, in which she was a housemaid for a wealthy family during the Fifties. 

So that’s where she learned all her airs and graces! 

RICHARD: I’ll feel such a fool!

HYACINTH: And not only the old folk, dear. I want you to be the star turn at my Boxing Day candlelight supper for our special friends. I want you to be the surprise!

RICHARD: Oh I will be… I can see it now.

Hyacinth puts the red jacket onto Richard.

HYACINTH: During the proceedings I want you to slip away quietly.

RICHARD: I sometimes think about slipping away quietly.

HYACINTH: And return as Father Christmas.

Hyacinth kisses her reluctant husband on both cheeks.

RICHARD: I can just see Onslow’s (her slobby beer-swilling brotherin- law) face when he sees me in this.

HYACINTH: I’m not going to all this trouble for Onslow. Don’t be silly! Onslow and my family will come as usual on Christmas Eve.

RICHARD: Oh you decided then.

HYACINTH: They are my family and I love them dearly… especially at this time of year when it gets dark early.

Richard sits down in the costume.

HYACINTH: I can cope when they are in the house, it’s when they are arriving and especially leaving. Onslow’s rarely in a condition that I’d want the neighbours to see.