To Hull and Back

"To Hull and Back"
Only Fools and Horses episode
Episode no. Episode 4
(Christmas Special)
Directed by Ray Butt
Written by John Sullivan
Produced by Ray Butt
Original air date 25 December 1985
(16.9 million viewers)
Running time 90 minutes

"To Hull and Back" is the fourth Christmas special episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses, first screened on 25 December 1985. It was the first feature-length edition of the show. The title of the special is derived from the film To Hell and Back. Parts of the special were shot on location in Amsterdam and unlike most other episodes was shot entirely on film and therefore not before a studio audience (making it laugh-track free). In the episode, the Trotters agree to smuggle diamonds from Amsterdam for Boycie.


As the Trotters are enjoying another evening at The Nag's Head, Boycie and his business partner Abdul call Del Boy in for a secret meeting, with a proposal that he travels to Amsterdam to buy some diamonds and bring them back to England, without informing Customs and Excise. Realising that this is smuggling, Del rebuffs Boycie and Abdul, but is quickly swayed when Boycie offers him £15,000 for his efforts.

The next morning, as they arrive at the market, Rodney is worried that the diamond smuggling trip is far too risky, but Del assures him that everything will be OK. Just then, Denzil shows up in his lorry, and informs Del that Corrine (Denzil's wife) made Denzil promise to keep his distance from Del. (This links in with a sub-plot in which Del is seen to "haunt" Denzil.) With all that said, Denzil drives off.

The Trotter Brothers quickly run off from the police after trying to flog watches that play 36 different national anthems, but they run into local policeman DCI Roy Slater and his partner DC Terry Hoskins. At Sid's cafe, Slater tells Del and Rodney that he is investigating the case, and already knows that Boycie and Abdul are involved, but doesn't know who the courier is. Also, Slater mentions that he'll be retiring from the police force after solving the case (though Hoskins earlier explained that Slater was being forced out due to his corrupt nature). As Slater and Hoskins leave, Del phones Boycie and tells him that Slater's on to them. Boycie suggests that they and Abdul meet up tonight, and Del knows the perfect meeting place.

That night, as Boycie and Abdul wait in the trailer of an unsuspecting Denzil's lorry in a car park, Del and Rodney arrive in the Trotter van. With Rodney standing watch, Del enters the trailer and receives the diamond payment briefcase from Boycie to take with him to Amsterdam. Boycie and Abdul leave, and Slater shows up, having received a call from a nearby resident. Del prepares to exit until he sees Slater searching the area, and hides under a tarpaulin at the far end of the trailer. He is not spotted, but Slater inadvertently locks him in the trailer, before Denzil arrives and drives off. In desperation, Rodney sets off in pursuit, eventually following Denzil to Hull. Back at the station, Slater orders that a watch be placed on Boycie and Abdul's movements, and has a discussion with Hoskins about the possible courier, with Slater mentioning that the Trotters have not been seen for a few days. Despite laughing off Hoskins' suggestion that the Trotters could be the couriers, Slater mentions that Del is more intelligent than he lets on and would know the ins and outs of the world.

On the Hull docks, Del decides that, rather than go through the airports, which Slater is patrolling, he and Rodney should sail to Holland in a hired boat instead. "Experienced seaman" Albert arrives to captain the boat, although it later emerges that he spent most of his time with the Royal Navy in the boiler room and thus has no experience of navigation. Despite that (and after receiving directions from an oil rig), they make it to Amsterdam, where they meet a Dutch diamond dealer named Hendrik Van Kleefe and conclude the transaction without a hitch, despite the fact that Boycie's money is counterfeit. There is one scary moment for the Trotters when they appear to be chased by the police just after Del has left Van Kleefe; two uniformed officers and a plain clothes man standing there start running and the Trotters flee, but in fact the plain clothes man is the criminal being pursued (not a policeman) and it has nothing to do with the Trotters!

After getting lost in the North Sea again, the Trotters eventually find their way back to England by following the MV Norland, a ferry which goes from Zeebrugge to Hull. However, they initially followed it to Zeebrugge, and had to wait for it to turn around.

A few days later, upon returning home to Peckham and meeting with Boycie and Abdul at the Nag's Head, the group are ambushed by Slater, who, as it turns out, had arranged the deal with Van Kleefe from the start. Slater makes a proposal: either they all go to prison, or he leaves with the diamonds and they walk away free; the Trotters and friends reluctantly accept the second option. Del vows to get revenge, but Slater mentions that he is moving far away from London when he retires, then leaves. With their mission failed, an exhausted and dejected Del, Rodney, and Albert head home.

Meanwhile, Hoskins drives Slater home whilst Slater "wonders" what happened to the diamonds. Hoskins turns into a side road and straight into a police sting. It then emerges that Slater's superiors have long suspected him of corruption, and set him up to be caught in possession of the diamonds, and Hoskins was ordered by the Commissioner to keep an eye on Slater. Slater attempts to bribe his way out, but Hoskins refuses and reveals that he is wearing a wire. Meanwhile, Van Kleefe is apprehended by the Dutch authorities while he is attempting to deposit the counterfeit money at the bank.

Back at Nelson Mandela House, Del and Albert reveal to Rodney that all is not lost, because Del, having noticed that the diamond money was fake, had switched two of the diamonds for two of his cats' eye cufflinks and kept them hidden in Albert's pipe as a way of revenge. Rodney then reveals that it was he, and not Slater, who took the £15,000 during the commotion at the pub. Del, believing that the £15,000 was also counterfeit but was, in fact, genuine, throws it over the balcony, leaving Rodney and Albert stunned, and Del feeling proud of himself.



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