Thicker than Water (Only Fools and Horses)

"Thicker than Water"
Only Fools and Horses episode
Episode no. Episode 3
(Christmas Special)
Directed by Ray Butt
Written by John Sullivan
Produced by Ray Butt
Original air date 25 December 1983
(10.8 million viewers)
Running time 30 minutes

"Thicker than Water" is the third Christmas special episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses, broadcast on 25 December 1983, and is the first to be screened on Christmas Day. The episode title comes from the proverb Blood is thicker than water, highlighted by the appearance of Del and Rodney's father, Reg.


Rodney and Grandad are watching television on Christmas Day, when a stranger appears at the door. The stranger turns out to be Del Boy and Rodney's father (and Grandad's son) Reg, who had abandoned them 18 years earlier after the death of their mother. When Del learns of Reg's return he intends to throw him out, but Rodney and Grandad persuade Del to give him a chance. Reg tells his two sons and father that he has been living in Newcastle, and has recently been diagnosed with a hereditary blood disorder.

Del and Rodney quickly take blood tests, which both turn out negative, but Grandad notices on their results that they have different blood types. Grandad explains that around the time that Rodney was born, Reg and their mother Joan were having frequent arguments, and Joan flirted with other men. Del and Grandad thus both assume that Rodney has a different father and tell him the news, with Del concluding that Rodney is a "whodunnit". However, when Reg returns having checked his own and Grandad's blood groups, he reveals that it is in fact Del who has the alien blood group.

Del drowns his sorrows at The Nag's Head, while Reg moves in permanently, wearing Del's clothes, spending time with Rodney and taunting Del for being a "lone ranger", at one point shouting "Hi-ho silver!" at him. Rodney reassures Del that children with the same parents can have different blood groups and recommends that he visit Dr. Becker, the Trotter family's doctor, again to clarify the results. Del at first refuses, as Becker was with their mother before her death, and so did not want him to realise that she was seeing different men.

The next evening, Reg is clearly outstaying his welcome at the flat, having spent all of Rodney and Grandad's money, drunk all their beer, and even written a bet on one of Rodney's GCE certificates. Del returns home and reveals that he took Rodney's advice and went to see Dr. Becker again, who confirmed that his blood type was actually 'A' and not 'AB', as recorded on the results, and that someone - Reg - had altered them in an attempt to isolate Del and take his place in Nelson Mandela House. Furthermore, Dr. Becker made some background checks, which found that Reg was actually a porter at the Newcastle infirmary, not a patient, and was on the run after stealing numerous items from the hospital, including a doctor's scooter. All but defeated, Reg decides to leave, and the Trotters are glad to see him go, although Del still gives him some money on his way out.

Episode cast

Actor Role
David Jason Derek Trotter
Nicholas Lyndhurst Rodney Trotter
Lennard Pearce Grandad Trotter
Peter Woodthorpe Reg Trotter
Michele Winstanley Karen (Barmaid)

Story arc



Music from the film Sleepless Nights


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