Three classic episodes of Only Fools and Horses are being repeated on BBC One over Christmas. Heroes and Villains will be shown at 11am on Sunday December 23rd, Modern Men at 11am on Christmas Eve and Time on Our Hands at 11am on Christmas Day.
Of course the scene everyone still talks about from Heroes and Villains is the moment where we first see Del and Rodney dressed as Batman and Robin. Here, in a short extract from my book Only Fools and Horses – The Official Inside Story, David Jason and director Tony Dow reveal how it was done…
Filming the memorable Batman and Robin scene in Heroes and Villains required David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst to make complete fools of themselves. “You have to have a tremendous sense of fun and self-deprecation and you can’t take yourself too seriously and do things like that,” said David. “You’ve got to be a bit daft in the head to do it. When I got the script I read it for a while, then I had to stop. I closed the page and laughed out loud. I had to put it down. I could see in my mind what John [Sullivan] had written and it was priceless.”
Filming it, in the early hours of a cold November morning, was another matter. David recalled: “Nick and I had to film it about six times because we couldn’t do it for laughing. I’d be looking at him in all his gear and he’d be trying to say serious lines and I just found it very funny. He’d say: ‘What are you laughing at?’ and I’d say: ‘Well you’ve got to see you from where I see you.’”
The production team went to great lengths to make sure the press didn’t get pictures of David and Nicholas as Batman and Robin and spoil the surprise. They kept their costumes covered up until the last minute and when a camera lens was spotted the unit electricians dazzled it with powerful film lights. Finally one persistent photographer was encouraged to leave the area by a security guard with an impeccably trained Rottweiler.
“I kept David and Nick dressed as Batman and Robin in their caravan until the very last minute,” recalled Tony Dow. “We used two stand-ins for focusing and setting up and then got them to run to the actual spot where we were filming, shoot it and then immediately got them back out of sight. We were desperate that no one should get pictures of them as Batman and Robin because we didn’t want to spoil the surprise for people watching on Christmas Day – and we managed it. We were there all night but the actual filming of David and Nick only took about two minutes.”
© Steve Clark 2012. All Rights reserved