Ofah dellers wellers with gun

Del Boy arrives at Rodney's shooting weekend with a sawn off shotgun.

"A Royal Flush" was the Christmas 1986 episode of Only Fools And Horses, airing on the 25th December 1986 with a viewing figure of 18.8 million and saw the Trotters brush with royalty but in typical plonker fashion, ends in disaster for the Trotters, thanks to Derek "Del Boy" Trotter singing and eating during the opera and getting "very merry" at a royal dinner.

This episode is one of the most criticised episodes though as it portrayed the loveable rogue Del Boy in a more negative light. He was more menacing in this episode and downright nasty. See "Observations" for more.


Derek "Del Boy" Trotter is selling cutlery to the local crowd. Rodney Trotter is distracted by an attractive lady who runs an art stall a few yards away. He abandons his lookout position to talk to her. Del Boy notices some policemen and is aghast. He sees Rodney chatting to the woman and says to himself "You stupid dipstick" about Rodney. Del gets Trigger to pretend to be someone giving Del directions towards The Hilton Hotel, Park Lane while Del pretends to be French in front of the policeman but manages to use Spanish, French and German phrases. He then quickly scarpers. Rodney carries on chatting to this woman whose name is Victoria who is selling expensive paintings. Rodney takes Victoria to Sid's Cafe which he nicknames "The Fatty Thumb". He is pleased to find Victoria's dad has some of his paintwork in The National Gallery. Victoria says she needs to get back as Special Branch will be worried. She says she is Lady Victoria Marsham Hales of Covington House, Berkshire. They arrange to go to an opera performance together. Rodney is pleased that he is becoming friendly with a noble girl.

Rodney goes to the library and reads up on her and finds that she is the daughter of Sir Henry Marsham, the Duke of Maylebury and a second cousin of the Queen. Del arrives home and is mad at Rodney for abandoning his position to chat to women. Del says he was almost nicked by a copper. Rodney explains who this woman is and when Del is not convinced, he thinks The Duke Of Maylebury is a pub. Rodney shows Del a photo of her in a country magazine and Del realises she is the daughter of The Duke. Sensing a chance to make the Trotter family millionaires, Del decides to assist Rodney's blossoming friendship with Lady Victoria, such as by acquiring tickets for the opera, albeit getting them off a ticket tout.

On the night of the opera, Rodney and Victoria arrive, only to see that Del has also shown up, along with June Snell. Rodney is alarmed at Del's presence. During the opera performance Del and June ruin the evening for the quiet and refined Rodney and Victoria by talking during the performance and eating snacks, thus irritating Rodney and Victoria and other people in the audience. One man sat behind Del is very frustrated. June eats so much she is sick all over the woman in the seat in front of her. Rodney is highly upset and embarrassed. Victoria has invited him to her country mansion (Covington House) at the weekend as they have a blood sports event going on. Wanting Rodney to make a good impression, Del insists that he dresses as a country gentleman in a tweed suit.

During the event, Rodney is enjoying himself and as he has a go at shooting, but when he is about to take a shot, he notices the yellow 3 wheeled van driving down a country lane nearby. He goes into shock and fires two bullets into the air. He seems to be of a nervous disposition but is really horrified that Del has driven down there. Rodney is worried Del may ruin the evening for him. Rodney looks around as he knows he saw the yellow 3 wheel van. Del calls out "Tally Ho there Rodders". Del arrives with Albert Trotter. Rodney closes his eyes in annoyance and disbelief.

Del introduces himself to Henry The Duke and starts claiming to have turned up to deliver Rodney's evening suit that he "forgot" (although Rodney knows that he packed it and Del removed it so he had an excuse to turn up). As Rodney seethes with anger, Del invites himself to that evening's dinner having coincidentally brought his own evening suit. He also eats a chicken leg and puts the remains in a fruit bowl, The Duke can sense Del means trouble. Del has a go at the clay pigeon shooting, by using a single-barrel pump-action shotgun he borrowed off Iggy Higgins, a bank robber. Del begins to annoy Henry already.

Before the dinner, Del keeps irritating Henry with his "humorous" comments and constant questions asking which paintings are by Leonardo Da Vinci. So far the paintings Del has asked about are not Da Vinci's. Henry says one of them is a Pissaro and Del replies "I dunno I have seen worse". Henry closes his eyes and has a "Dear God" moment at Del's statement. A concerned Rodney asks Del to behave himself at the dinner. Del says whatever happens tonight he is doing it for Rodney. Down in the kitchens below, Albert is boring the kitchen staff and butlers with his stories of the war.

At the huge dinner table, which has 30 or more people sat at it, a nervous but polite Rodney answers questions about what he did at college and things. Meanwhile Del begins throwing his banana skin in nice displays on the table and bangs knives against expensive pieces of glassware to test if they are crystal. Henry almost swears to one of his friends about what he thinks of Del. Henry says Rodney is an artist and then says Del is "The biggest ar....artist of them all".

Rodney is asked about why he left college after just 3 weeks and says for personal reasons, he does not want to elaborate further but Del manages to grab everyone's attention by saying why, that he was caught with drugs that belonged to someone else who asked him to take a puff. Del says he is saying this in case the press find out, that Rodney was stitched up. Del then tries to "liven" up the evening by making lewd jokes and starting to joke about the Irish man on the skiing holiday, when Victoria's mum had died while skiing 9 years ago. Henry has reached the end of his tether and bellows at Del saying he wants to see him outside to have a word. Rodney is on the verge of tears and is beside himself with anger and embarrassment, while Albert, down in the kitchens below, overhears the whole thing and shakes his head sadly, knowing that their weekend is finished. Del whispers to Rodney he has clenched a deal. Victoria asks if Rodney will be staying the night or not, and Rodney says he better get back off home.

Outside in the large hallway area Henry says he wants Del, Rodney and Albert out of his house and off his land immediately. Del says that Henry should be planning for Victoria's wedding to Rodney. Henry is shocked to hear this. He then says Victoria is marrying no one as she is off to New York to do a 2 year art course. Del says that Rodney is very keen on her and nothing will make him leave her, then he sees £££ signs and says, well there is one thing. Henry and Del go into a study. Del asks what a painting on the wall is and Henry growls "That's a bloody Da Vinci".

A few hours later, back at the Trotter's flat in Peckham, over 60 miles away, it is the early hours of the morning. A very upset Rodney is stood in the dark in the flat staring at the London night sky. A very hung over, and regretful Del comes in from the hallway and says he only wanted to make an impression and Rodney compared that impression to the one the Americans made at Nagasaki in 1945. Rodney is angry and vents at Del saying how he always interferes in his life and he has ruined his chances with Victoria plus humiliated and destroyed him in front of all those people. Rodney smacks his hand on an air vent in anger.

Rodney then says Henry called him into his office saying he wanted him out of Victoria's life now and for good and to never see her again. He even offered Rodney money. Del pretends to know nothing about the bribe and says he would tell him what he can do with his money. Rodney says he turned the money down. Del is annoyed and asks why he turned £1000 down. Rodney says he has pride intact. He then asks why Del knew it was £1000 that was offered him.

Del says it was arranged but only to save Rodney, as people like Victoria, noble people are looked after by Special Branch and MI6 and they would run Rodney's name through their computer and find out that he has a drugs conviction and if Rodney had refused to get out of Victoria's life then Special Branch would have sent a hit team and have Rodney killed. Rodney realises Del may have found this out while he was dating Victoria, and that Del showed him up in front of all those others for him. Del wanted to save Rodney from being bumped off so he probably felt that if that meant making a show of Rodney at the dinner, then so be it.

Del apologises to Rodney for his behaviour and shakes his hand, but squeezes it as a ploy to show him what a plonker he was turning the money down.


Main cast

Guest cast

Previous Episode Royal Variety ShowEdit

Next Episode The Frog's LegacyEdit


  • This episode was based on the fact that noble people seem to be socialising more with everyday people from society, and the Special Branch were worried that the noble people would be kidnapped. John Sullivan used this idea as an episode of the show.
  • As revealed in Steve Clark's book, The Only Fools and Horses Story, John Sullivan was not happy with this episode, feeling that it seemed to show Del in a negative light. Whereas Del was always seen to be a lovable rogue, in this episode, there were some scenes where he came over as boorish and offensive, and it showed Del's darker side. Both David Jason and Ray Butt have expressed dissatisfaction with this episode. It is also very unpopular with many fans. John Sullivan had little time to write it, as a Christmas special was only commissioned a few months beforehand, and he was tied up in Paris with the Just Good Friends Christmas special. Also, filming of "A Royal Flush" was rushed and John wished he was present at the recording of the episode because in a rare moment, David Jason overracted the scenes, making Del appear really nasty. Ray Butt blamed himself as he wished he had spotted it and toned David down. The episode seemed to have made Del lose his regard in the public eye. This even was one of the reasons why Ray Butt felt the show had run its course during filming of the next episode, "The Frog's Legacy". John Sullivan wanted to continue the show so Ray simply left as producer.
  • While Del was very nasty at the dinner scene, when Henry lost his temper with Del and asked to have a word outside Del said to Rodney "Now I have clinched a deal". This does indicate that Del was being offensive and boorish on purpose (throwing peas on the floor, throwing banana skins in chinaware, chicken legs in fruit displays, telling rude jokes in front of nobility etc) as he knew Rodney was in danger due to his drugs conviction, and that Special Branch would strongly object to such a person dating a royal girl. Special Branch would also worry that Rodney may kidnap Victoria, while Rodney was not that kind of person, Special Branch did not know that. If Rodney refused to leave Victoria, then Special Branch would send out a hit team and have Rodney killed. Not forgetting that four years later in "Rodney Come Home", Del did a smiliar thing to frighten Rodney off dating a girl called Tanya when he is married to Cassandra, even if their marriage was not working out at the time. Del said nasty things about Tanya in the hope that Rodney would see sense. Del later admitted this to Raquel who was furious at Del at the time.
  • One theory on Del's sudden nasty behaviour could be that in the previous episode, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Del had turned down an offer from his old friend Jumbo Mills to emigrate to Australia and become a millionaire business partner in Jumbo's multi million dollar business, and while Del was OK about it in that episode, maybe his frustration came out in "A Royal Flush", delayed shock. Del had turned down the offer because Rodney was refused an immigration visa due to a drugs conviction and Albert did not want to move on yet again at his age. Del had promised to look after Rodney when their mum died in 1964. However Del said that the real opportunities lie here and you just have to look out for them.
  • The scene near the end where Rodney is shouting at Del for interfering is consistent with the characters though as he is always angry at older brother Del for sticking his oar in to everything he does. "For as long as I can remember it has always been the same Del, you sticking your oar in". Although Rodney has on occasions interfered in Del's life.
  • The scene of Rodney and Victoria going to the opera was filmed at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane. The interior scenes of the opera house were filmed at a theatre in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
  • This special was originally broadcast with no studio laughter. A subsequent repeated version exists with an added laughter track, but was heavily edited for future DVD and TV broadcasts. However, the episode is possibly the least repeated on the BBC, although it is shown fairly regularly on UK TV Gold and has been released by the BBC in DVD format. For the Region 2 DVD release, this special was heavily re-edited (including at least 18 minutes of cuts). An audience laughter track was also added. The back of the DVD release refers to this version as "The 2004 Version". The reasons for this alternative edit were because of John Sullivan's dissatisfaction with the finished version as originally broadcast. The final transmitted episode was hastily edited, as it was being prepared for transmission on Christmas Day 1986 and there was not enough time to run the episode in front of a live studio audience. Also, Sullivan has stated that he felt in the scene where Del is drunk at dinner, he came across as too nasty. The original 1998 UK video release did not contain an added laughter track and more accurately reflected the running time of the original 1986 broadcast version.
    • No laughter track was in the original broadcast.
    • Originally after Rodney said to Victoria in the car that he had contacts who got him the tickets, you can see the drivers' eyes stare at Rodney and then shake his head, now it cuts to their car arriving at the theatre.
    • Rodney's reaction at the expensive price of the theatre programmes "Eight pounds?" for Carmen is cut.
    • The scene where Rodney escorts Vicky into the theatre auditorium is cut as June asks Del why he didn't get her a theatre programme for the opera and he replies that she can't read.
    • A number of short bits are cut from the theatre auditorium scene, including June and Del dropping litter on the floor, Del offering crisps to Rodney and Victoria, Del arguing with disgruntled patrons, and Junie becoming queasy.
    • A short scene outside the theatre between Del and Rod which includes this line "It was alright until Junie did her psychedelic yodel" that was cut.
    • A number of short scenes are cut from the dinner sequence at Covington House, including Del running his finger around the rim of a glass, a discussion about the "Shed" at Stamford Bridge football ground, and the quality of a player, Del's dialogue following his line "They weren't his drugs", Del's "You thought I was going to say arse" joke, and the skiing joke, and Rodney telling Victoria he better not stay for the night.
    • Del laughing out loud after the "You thought I was going to say arse" joke was kept in but the "arse" joke was cut, and instead Del's laughter after that joke was added after he said "Doesn't need a box does, he? Tall enough to see isn't he?". In the original broadcast, Del mistook a private box at the new stand at Chelsea Football Stadium for a box to stand on to see the game better.


  • The Trotters' return home to London from Berkshire is implausible as Del and Rodney had both been drinking, Del particularly so, and Albert wouldn't have been able to drive the van because he's not insured, as mentioned in "Danger UXD". One theory is Rodney got a taxi back from Berkshire to London but still makes a drunken Del able to drive home at night. Rodney must have been picked up to be taken to Covington House for the shooting weekend so was probably driven back.
  • After Rodney supposedly gets a taxi back and Del drives back, there was no mention of where Albert was in the last scene at the flat. Presumably he had gone to bed and was asleep in his bedroom when Del was being told off by Rodney for interfering.
  • When the Trotters return to their flat at the end of the special, Rodney moans to Del that he told the joke about the Irish man and the skiing holiday. But Del never told the joke, as Lord Henry interrupted him before he was able to tell it.

Locations seenEdit