"Chain Gang" was the 3rd episode of the 6th series of Only Fools And Horses, airing on the 22nd January 1989 with a viewing figure of 16.3 million. This episode saw the Trotters dabble in the jewellery game with a retired jeweller called Arnie who dies of a heart attack, but does he?
Del Boy and Rodney Trotter are spending a night down The One Eleven Club. Del has been spending a few nights there lately and has met a retired jeweller called Arnie. Arnie says he has to change his lifestyle or he will die in 6 months. Del finally gets to meet Cassandra Parry, Rodney's girlfriend and she says he makes her laugh with his quick wit. Arnie gets chatting with Del and he says that he still does a bit of dealing. Del says he has money pugged away for emergencies. They arrange to meet in Arnie's car in the car park in an hour. Del says he wants Rodney as a backup.
Del, Rodney and Arnie meet in Arnie's car and Arnie says he has 250 24 carat gold chains to sell. Del offers to take 3 of them but Arnie says he sells in bulk or none at all. Arnie explains that he acquired the chains for another man, Maxi Stavros, but has not heard from him since, and now he is willing to sell them for half their wholesale price. Del and Arnie agree to the deal and Del puts together a multi national consortium to buy the chains, namely himself, Boycie, Trigger, Albert and Mike from The Nags Head. Rodney initially does not want to get involved. The following day at "Trotter Towers" the gang exchange their money and buy the chains for £12'500.
However, seconds after the deal has gone through, Arnie calls his wife Pat, who informs him that Mr Maxi Stavros has made contact and now wishes to purchase the chains. Arnie is distraught as he has shaken on the deal, and worries about having to explain to Stavros that he has sold the chains. Del calms the situation down with an idea. Arnie will sell the chains to Stavros on the consortium's behalf for the original price of £25,000, with Arnie receiving £2,000 for his troubles, leaving the consortium with a healthy profit.
At an Italian restaurant, Arnie chains their briefcase to his wrist and waits for Mr Stavros while the consortium wait nearby. Trigger and Mike in Mike's car and Rodney and Albert in the 3 wheel van. Del and Boycie keep an eye on Arnie from a nearby table. Arnie starts grabbing his chest and coughing and wheezing. He collapses and the waiter calls an ambulance. Boycie is more worried about the chains and if Arnie is taken to an NHS hospital they will lose the gold and the money for good. Boycie poses as a doctor, very unconvincingly and tries to get the chains off him. A fellow diner punches him to the floor. Del then poses as a policeman, also not fooling the others, and pretends to arrest Boycie. He takes Boycie outside. Del and Boycie explain to the consortium that Arnie has had a heart attack. An ambulance arrives rather quickly, just 2 minutes after Arnie has had his heart attack. Arnie is taken off to hospital. The rest decide to follow but Mikes car has been clamped and Rodney drives off in the van, leaving Del, Boycie and Trigger stranded.
About an hour later, the consortium are back at Del's flat awaiting news. Rodney and Albert return and say they lost the ambulance at a red light, so they have no idea what hospital they took Arnie to. They suggest ringing or driving round them all but Trigger, in a surprising moment of intelligence, says there must be 25 of them in London. Rodney says "If not for the Tories, there could have been 30". They then receive a call from a doctor who informs them that Arnie has died. The doctor is unable to give Del Arnie's address and hangs up. As none of the consortium know Arnie's surname and he was not a member of The One Eleven Club, just a paying customer, they have no way of tracing him. All Del knows is he lives in Lambeth but Trigger says he has just moved there so wont be on any electoral registers yet. It seems they are stumped.
But Albert suggests that they use the redial button on the phone, as Arnie was the last person to use it when he phoned his wife. Del kisses Albert, knowing they have a lead, and gives it a try, but comes up short and gets put through to the Highcliffe Hotel in Guernsey (Rodney had phoned to contact Cassandra). Del is not pleased. Now resigned to losing the gold chains for good, a despondent Mike, Boycie, and Trigger leave the flat.
A day or so later, Rodney is driving Cassandra back through the streets of London from the airport. He gets stuck behind a parked ambulance outside a restaurant and sees a man who looks suspiciously a lot like Arnie, with a briefcase chained to his wrist being carried out on a stretcher into the ambulance.
In The Nags Head, later than day Del and the rest of the gang (apart from dozy Trigger of course) realise the truth, Arnie is not dead and is a con man who tricks people into buying them then fakes a heart attack so he can make off with the chains. Trigger says "He should be taking things easy in his condition", but an annoyed Del explains that he is not a sick man but a con man.
The consortium realise that when Arnie had his heart attack the ambulance arrived very quickly and that Arnie always talked about his wife and 2 sons. They assume that they are also in on the scam, at 1pm Arnie does his dying man act, then 3 minutes past, Gary and Steven arrive, disguised as paramedics in an old ambulance, take him away and off into the wide blue yonder without suspicion as they looked like real ambulance men. Del says he phoned the manager of the Italian restaurant they were at, and that 10 minutes after Arnie was taken away in an ambulance, another ambulance came along, the real one. They realise that Mr Stavros does not even exist, he was invented by Arnie, but even then Del has to explain this to Trigger who thinks Arnie knew Stavros pretty well.
Del and Rodney then hear that Denzil and his brothers are about to become the latest victims of Arnie's scam, but Denzil leaves the Nag's Head before Del and Rodney can warn him about Arnie. Denzil is on his way to Germany and Del shouts "Denzil. Nicht Buying Them" and Rodney shakes his head at Del's unconvincing German accent.
A day or so later, Del has informed Denzil of Arnie's scams. Denzel and his brothers are keeping an eye on Arnie in an Indian restaurant. A few streets away, Steven and Gary have seen their father is in position and they are ready to pretend to be ambulance drivers. They say they will wait for 4 minutes. Gary also tells Steven to pretend to be the hospital doctor this time. Arnie then fakes his heart attack. But before Steven and Gary get to Arnie, another ambulance turns up and takes Arnie away in a stretcher. Steven and Gary arrive just as the ambulance drives away and the waiter says "ambulance come, he gone". Steven and Gary realise that their scam has probably been rumbled and someone else is playing the "pretend ambulance drivers". Steven and Gary are then apprehended by Denzel and his brothers.
The ambulance that took Arnie away was being driven by Trigger, disguised as a paramedic along with Del, Boycie, Rodney, Mike and Albert in the back. Arnie, thinking his sons are driving says "Wonderful" and looks up to see Del and his mates and realises he has been caught out. The game is up for Arnie and his sons. Arnie tries to reason with his former customers, as Albert passes Del a large pair of bolt cutters. Arnie says there is no need to cut the chain because he has the key. Del then remarks "Who said anything about cutting the chain off?". Arnie begins to wheeze, and Del quips that Arnie should calm down or else he may give himself a heart attack.
- Derek "Del Boy" Trotter - David Jason
- Rodney Trotter - Nicholas Lyndhurst
- Albert Trotter - Buster Merryfield
- Mike Fisher - Kenneth MacDonald
- Trigger - Roger Lloyd Pack
- Boycie - John Challis
- Cassandra Parry - Gwyneth Strong
- Arnie - Phillip McGough
- Waiter - Frank Coda
- Otto - Mick Oliver
- Grayson - Peter Rutherford
- Female diner -
- Male diner -
- Gary - Steve Fortune
- Steven - Sam Howard
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- In the One-Eleven Club, Arnie hands Del his mineral water and walks off. Del chinks the glasses together and drinks from Arnie's - mistaking it to be his own.
- While being introduced to her by Rodney at the One-Eleven Club, Del tells Cassandra that he remembers her father, Alan, by saying "Little fella, one blue eye, one brown, talks with a squint, walks with a stutter." Cassandra replies "That's him!" However, when Alan is first seen in "Little Problems", that is clearly not the case. Again, may be down to Del's sense of humour when describing Alan.
- Boycie puts up seven grand in the flat, yet outside the Italian restaurant after he's been punched, this has grown to "seven and a half grand in unlaundered money" according to Del.
- Two episodes later, in "Sickness and Wealth", Del says he has not been able to pay the rent on the flat for the last 3 months. Yet in "Chain Gang" he says he has £4000 "pugged away for emergencies". Arnie did con Del and the consortium out of the money but they retrieved it at the end of the episode, meaning Del could easily have paid off his rent arrears in "Sickness and Wealth". Maybe £1000 of Del's stash of £4000 was the money he acquired two years earlier in "The Longest Night" by blackmailing the supermarket staff to give it to him as "their millionth customer" or he would tell the police they all arranged a robbery with Lennox Gilbey, and had used the Trotters as witnesses.
- The One Eleven Club (roulette area, bar area, entrance hallway, seating area)
- The One Eleven Club exterior (entrance doorway, car park)
- The Trotters flat (living room, entrance hallway)
- Restaurant exterior (street, pathway, restaurant windows and doorway)
- Unknown street in Peckham (traffic jam, shop exterior, Arnie being taken away on a stretcher)
- The Nag's Head (main bar, entrance doors leading outside)
- Unknown streets in Peckham
- Ambulance interior