The Russians Are Coming

"The Russians Are Coming"
Only Fools and Horses episode
Episode no. Series 1
Episode 6
Directed by Martin Shardlow
Written by John Sullivan
Produced by Ray Butt
Original air date 13 October 1981
(8.8 million viewers)
Running time 30:14 (DVD) / 30:23 (iTunes)

"The Russians Are Coming" is an episode of the BBC sit-com, Only Fools and Horses. It was first screened on 13 October 1981, as the final episode of series 1. In the episode, Del buys a nuclear fallout shelter and, anticipating a nuclear war, the Trotters decide to build it.


Del Boy purchases a pile of bricks and discovers several boxes of lead underneath, Rodney discovers (in some old paperwork found with the lead) that the lead is for a do it yourself nuclear fallout shelter. The episode was first screened during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and Rodney persuades Del that, with a potential World War III looming, they should build the shelter rather than sell it. Del agrees to test out the shelter over the weekend.

Several potential locations for the shelter, including Grandad's allotment and Grandad's own idea of a spot in the New Forest, prove unworkable as the trio are unable to beat the four-minute warning (due to a run-in with the police).

The remainder of the episode is set in the shelter, where the discussion turns to war and the potential aftermath of the impending one. Del suggests that the present generation of British youngsters have been denied their birthright of a war, which sparks an uncharacteristic reprimand by Grandad, who gives a passionate "war is hell" speech. The episode ends with Del dreaming aloud of what could become of the world in the event of nuclear fallout, while the camera zooms out to reveal the location of the Trotters' fallout shelter; at the top of their tower block, Nelson Mandela House.

Episode cast

Actor Role
David Jason Derek Trotter
Nicholas Lyndhurst Rodney Trotter
Lennard Pearce Grandad Trotter
Derek Newark Eric (police officer)
Kelly Garfield Wayne (the car driver)

Episode concept

The idea for the script was based on a true story which John Sullivan was reading about, which involved a group of people who did as the script suggested: purchased lead and built an air-raid shelter.[1]


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