Rock and Chips Review: Trotters Junior Traders
ROCK AND CHIPS: Sunday 24th January, BBC1, 9pm ALERT ME
Any Meatloaf fans tuning in to Rock and Chips should prepare themselves for disappointment – this is the ‘before-they-were-famous’ story of the Only Fools and Horses cast, not a music documentary.
After finally deciding that David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst were a bit too old to reprise their roles as the Trotter brothers – although Lyndhurst does put in a nice performance as his own father – the BBC have found themselves an uncanny new Del Boy in the form of James Buckley (the blue-mouthed hilarious one from Inbetweeners).
This comedy-drama takes us back to a Peckham circa-1960 in which Derek Trotter, Boycie, Denzil and Trigger have just walked out of school without many qualifications.
As you might expect they soon start earning a few quid on the side, but these young characters are merely fringe players in this 90 minute special. The real story revolves around a young Del Boy, his radiant mother Joan Trotter, his work-shy and selfish old man, his granddad – played perfectly by Phil Daniels, and Freddie Robdal.
While most of those names will fit in well with our knowledge of the iconic sit-com, that last person will probably leave you stumped. Freddie Robdal is a rather suave art connoisseur-slash-thief who returns to East London after a ten year spell in prison and catches the eye of the 18 year-old Del’s warm-hearted but downtrodden mother.
Although faced with some pretty large challenges, the writers have succeeded in breathing new life into these well-loved characters – but that could be because they were so very rich in the first place.
Yet amid the seriousness of this prequel there are a few moments of comedy gold and it’s easy to see why the original Del spoke of his mother with such eye-moistened high regard – she is the original blonde bombshell here.
Indeed fans of James Buckley will begin to wonder what his character in The Inbetweeners would make of her.
Fittingly, one excellent moment comes when Joan’s sleazy locks himself in his office after an encounter with her. “I want you to be my right hand”, he says later when offering her a promotion.