Only Fools and Horses backstage – real Del Boy, Liz Hurley snub, Hitler tale

Only Fools and Horses has been named Britain's favourite TV show ever, but even the biggest Del Boy fans might not know some of the events that happened on set.

The hit BBC comedy sitcom ran from 1981 until 2003, and it followed bickering brothers Del Boy and Rodney Trotter on their quest to become millionaires in Peckham.

It was just crowned the nation's favourite TV programme of all time in a public vote conducted with viewers of The One Show.

However, the cast has also suffered sad news in the last year, following Boycie actor John Challis's passing and Mickey Pearce star Patrick Murray's cancer diagnosis.

To celebrate the legendary sitcom, Daily Star has rounded up some incredible secrets from behind the scenes.

Del Boy based on real person

Leading cockney-boy Del Boy has become one of the most famous characters in British television history – known for his cheeky money-scheming ways and catchphrases like 'Lovely jubbly'.

Iconic actor David Jason did a stellar job of playing Del, but the character actually harks back to a real person who John knew.

Describing the man, called Chicky Stocker, John said: "He was a working-class Londoner and a tough man but always dressed very neatly.

“He wasn’t the sort of bloke you’d go out of your way to annoy but nevertheless he was very nice".

The story, along with these other facts, was told in Steve Clark's book, Only Fools And Horses: The Official Inside Story.

David Jason wasn't going to play Del Boy

Although producer Ray wanted David Jason for his leading man role of Del, it looked like David wasn't going to play him at first.

John, along with BBC show runners, wasn't sure he was the right fit for the role.

In 1967, Jason had been offered the role of Corporal Jones in Dad's Army, which Clive Dunn had turned down.

David was only 27 at the time, but he was already playing much older parts.

However, when Clive later changed his mind and took the role, David's offer was taken back, but it eventually paved the way for him to play his most famous character.

The actor who played Grandad met Hitler

Lennard Pearce shot to fame when he played Grandad – who gets relentlessly mocked by Del in the show.

In real life, Lennard worked in the army entertainment unit, ENSA, during the Second World War.

He told Nicholas Lyndhurst, who played Rodney, that he met Hitler in a theatre whilst touring Berlin in the late 1930s – and later regretted the meeting.

Nicholas said: "He told me, ‘Knowing what I do now, what I wouldn’t have given for a gun’."

The show was originally called Readies

Fans know it now as Only Fools, but show creator John Sullivan had initially called his series Readies in his first script.

The show came to be at a pub called The Three Kings in North End Road, Fulham, where John met up to booze with his producer pal Ray Butt after his show Over The Moon was axed.

John created Only Fools when he was strapped for cash because Over The Moon had been cancelled, following the end of his first TV series, Citizen Smith.

However, when John changed the name to Only Fools and Horses, BBC executives weren't pleased.

The saying came from an American saying from 'Vaudeville Theatre days'.

Newborn baby

Apparently, Only Fools had a rather unique way of acquiring a baby actor.

The show was in need of a newborn baby who could play Del and Racquel's son Damien.

To quickly sign up a youngster, a member of the BBC production team headed to a maternity ward at the hospital they were filming at.

They said: "Hands up who’s had a baby in the last hour and is prepared to lend it to the BBC?"

Only Fools was never shot in Peckham

Despite the show being set in Peckham, it was never filmed in the London district.

The Trotters' home, at the Nelson Mandela House, was actually in Acton, North London.

However, when the show grew increasingly popular, crowds began to disrupt the filming process so it had to move out of London.

Scenes were shot all over the UK, with a version of The Nags Head in places like Brighton and Hull.

Liz Hurley lost out on a part in the show

When it came to casting the role of Rodney's wife Cassandra, a number of actresses were up for the job – including Liz Hurley.

However, it was Gwyneth Strong who won the part, beating out Liz and other actresses in the process.

The stunning model went on to star in major movies like Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and Bedazzled (2000).

Buster's career U-turn

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When Grandad star Lennard passed away from a heart attack in 1984, the show was faced with a major issue.

The show didn't replace him with another actor though, because they created a new family member for Del Boy to pick on – Uncle Albert.

Buster Merryfield bagged the role because Ray, the producer, saw his photo and thought he looked like Captain Birdseye.

It turns out Buster, who was born Harry, had enjoyed a very different career before acting – as he was a bank manager for 40 years.

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