Dates was the Christmas 1988 special of Only Fools And Horses, airing on the 25th December 1988 with a viewing figure of 16.6 million. This episode saw the start of a new era for the Trotter family as Del Boy met Raquel through a dating agency, and she is an actress until Del get a surpise at his Uncle Albert's birthday do when he books a stripper for his birthday party. This episode saw Del Boy meet a more mature woman and also saw Rodney go on a date with Nervous Nerys, and a cruise in Del's van, which he ends up doing very quickly.
Derek "Del Boy" Trotter and Rodney Trotter have done very well in trade lately, having made £2000 in the past month alone, selling mens electric razors. Albert Trotter tells a story about how he was in the Navy in 1941 and sunk the ship he went out to rescue, and was due to be court martialled but the Japanese invaded and Albert never heard a word about it. He also has an upcoming birthday on the 19th November, and seems to be dropping hints.
A day or so later in The Nags Head, Rodney is persuaded by his friends to ask Nervous Nerys Sansom out for a date, and fool him into thinking she likes hard men. Boycie talks about his Masonic Lodge and Trigger has a date with a woman, of which was organised by Technomatch Dating Agency. Del asks Mike Fisher if he can have the pub for the night for Albert's birthday. Mike says as long as Albert does not dance or sing, tells no rude jokes and does not drink too much and just sits down and enjoys himself then Del can have the pub.
Del seeks an opportunity and signs up to the dating agency, and is interviewed by the agent. Del says he wants a "bit of a sort with everything in the right place and who knows the difference between a Liebfraumilch and a can of Tizer, and who likes a steak meal". The agent runs a few names through his computer. He sees a 30 year old woman who is an actress. Del asks if she is famous and the agent say no. He then suggests if Del is to meet this lady that he meets her under the clock at Waterloo Station. He also insists that both parties are honest with each other. Del agrees to it and pays £25 membership fee. He then says his surname is Duval with no "e" on the end when asked if he has an e on the end of his surname.
A few days later, Del is dressed up ready for his blind date. Albert asks if he is going out and Del says "no I'm going to bleed the brakes on the van" in sarcasm. Albert asks if it is someones birthday party or something and Del says no he has a date. Albert keeps dropping hints about how he had great birthday parties as a kid but now no one bothers. Del says the date is an actress called Raquel Turner and Albert says he has never heard of her. He asks more questions, but Del, reluctant to say he joined a dating agency, fobs Albert off.
Rodney is dressed as a punk to go out with Nerys. Del mocks him saying the James Dean look means before the crash. Del says he has a date and it is with an actress. Rodney asks who and Del says Raquel Turner, Rodney says "Not The Raquel Turner" and when Del asks if he has heard of her Rodney says "No". Rodney says Albert took a phone call from some agent the other day. Del says a showbusiness agent, he does not want Albert ot Rodney to know he joined a dating agency, and make them think he cannot pull women like he used to. Del gets his huge bunch of flowers out of the kitchen. He finds a sock in the flowers and throws it on the carpet. Del then leaves the flat, ready to go on his date.
At Waterloo Station, Del waits nervously for his date. A policeman wonders why Del has such a huge bunch of flowers. Del sees a woman with her back turned to him dressed in red standing a few metres away. Del asks if she is an actress and she says she has played a few demanding roles in her time. He realises she is not the blind date, but a prostitute. She mocks him and Del threatens to shove the flowers right up her...well you know what. A train horn goes off just as Del is about to say that word. She says "You realise that will be extra" then walks off.
Rodney picks Nerys up and goes for a cruise. He is smoking a cigarette in an attempt to look hard. Some of his punk friends see him and cheer at him. Rodney gives them the middle finger, trying to look hard in front of Nerys. Rodney takes her for a cruise towards the dual carriageway.
Back at Waterloo Station, Del has been waiting for ages and his date has not turned up, she is late. Del puts the flowers on the ground and then a young woman approaches him nervously. She asks if he is Derek and he realises she is his date. She is Raquel. He gives her some flowers and they walk off towards the taxi rank to go to The Hilton Hotel, Park Lane for lunch.
Rodney is driving down the dual carriageway and saying how this area is his jungle and no one scares him, not even those punks. But he soon realises he is being followed by them and starts speeding up, nervous. Nerys asks why Rodney is speeding up, saying she thought they were just going to cruise and he says he likes to cruise quickly.
At The Hilton Hotel, Del and Raquel talk, he says he is now a millionaire and owns a Ferrari. She says she used to be married and she has never had any proper acting roles outside theatre apart from a minor role in Doctor Who as a lizard person. Del has bribed Charles the waiter into saying that he has a call from his New York office to make it look like he is a rich businessman. But at the end of the lunch when Del is handed the huge bill, he almost chokes but has to hide his shock. He says Rodney handles the business well when he is not there.
Meanwhile Rodney is being chased by the punks through the streets of Peckham. He runs a red light and almost crashes into an oncoming car. The car quickly brakes and a police car crashes into the back of it. Rodney manages to escape the punks but the police see the yellow 3 wheel van. They say they will get him as there cannot be too many such vehicle owners in the area. The young copper tells the Old Man off for braking suddenly. Rodney quickly parks outside Nerys' house but she is a total nervous wreck. She is sobbing.
A day or so later, Del is at Raquel's flat and says she can join a friend's Masonic Lodge and can bribe a TV director into getting Raquel into a TV show, so she can finally make the big time. Del phones Boycie but Boycie laughs, saying Del would never get into his Lodge. Del blackmails Boycie into putting in a word for Del and he wont say about the woman Boycie saw in Sheffield. Del then speaks to Marlene on the phone and says that Albert wants an anglers knife made from Sheffield Steel. Marlene says "Sheffield" and Boycie quickly says "Gimme That Phone!!" Del then says goodbye to Boycie and hangs up.
A few days later it is Albert's birthday. He is singing and dancing and telling rude jokes. Mike is not pleased. Del then talks to Rodney about Raquel and how she is an actress and has talent and he has asked to join the Masonic Lodge. Boycie says that Del's application was refused, he was black balled. Del is unhappy but Rodney says Raquel's talent will win through. Two officers arrive and question Albert, saying that they are arresting him for causing the sinking of a ship in 1941 as the records have just been found at the Naval bases in Portsmouth. The woman then says to wish him a very happy birthday, and it is not a officer but a stripper. Del is laughing, saying that is his birthday surprise. But the stripper suddenly stops when she sees Del, and Del sees her, it is indeed Raquel. She is a stripper.
Del runs out of the pub, upset and embarrassed. Rodney goes after him. Del walks up to his van and kicks it before damaging the wing mirror in frustration at being lied to about what Raquel did for a living. Del gets into the van but Raquel comes out telling Del to wait. She then mirrors his anger at her by saying she has just found out his surname is Trotter not Duval, and he is a market trader, not a millionaire. Raquel then sarcastically indicated the 3 wheel van and says "I suppose this is the Ferrari". Del says OK he told the odd joke but does not go round flashing his boobs at blokes. Raquel says she was a stripper at weekends to pay for her drama classes. Raquel asks if Del wants to see her again. Del says yes but he will pay at the door like all the other punters. Raquel quietly walks back into the pub. Rodney says there was no need to say that to her. Del says he wish he hadn't, like most things in his life, too bloody late. Del gets into the van and starts the engine but the exhaust blows as does the engine. Del gets out and calmly says "I fancied a walk anyway".
A few days later at Sid's Cafe, Del is wallowing in self pity over Raquel. Sid asks if the rumours are true about him going caso with some stripper. Del denies this, saying he was just mucking around with her. Rodney comes in and asks Del if he is coming down The Coach And Horses tonight, they have a strip...erm comedian, he adds. Rodney asks what Del is doing about Raquel and Del says "I never knew anyone called Raquel". Raquel then comes in. Rodney says she can finish his tea and then leaves. As he leaves, he is confronted by Mrs Sansom, Nerys' mother, she wants to know why Rodney upset her the other day, Rodney says it was some yobs.
Raquel sits at Del's table. Del is very dismissive to her. She says she is going on a tour of the Middle East, she leaves tomorrow. A tour of Addis Abbaba. Del says she could get kidnapped and end up in a harlem. Raquel says that if Del wants to see her again, even as just friends, he can come round her flat at noon and she wont go on the tour, if not she will understand and go. She then leaves. Del is almost in tears.
A day later at The Nags Head, Rodney says Albert has threatened to get even with Del about organising the strippers for his birthday. Mike jokes that for the past week Del has been ruminating and fretting over whether to pay the bill for the strippogram agency. Rodney says Mike is out of order. Del then enters and Mike has to contain his laughter by putting a towel in his mouth. It is about 11:30. Del says he was thinking about her last night, she has had nothing but bad luck, her husband was a roughun. (Little did Del know back then that husband was Roy Slater, ex-copper and Del's former schoolmate and much hated man). Del says he will have a few drinks then go round to her flat. Rodney praises Del for it. Del and Rodney toast.
It is nearing noon and Raquel looks out of her flat window for Del. At The pub, Del says he will go and see Raquel now but 2 police officers come in, one female, one male, asking if he is Derek Trotter. Del says yes he is. The cops are the same cops who chased Rodney through the streets of Peckham the other day. The cops say a yellow 3 wheel van shot the red lights the other day almost causing a severe crash and they are questioning owners of all such vehicles. Del says to look no further officers as it was him, so fair cop, he done it, then jokingly holds his hands out before laughing, and poking Uncle Albert, thinking they are strippers and Albert has got his own back for Del organising the strippers at Albert's birthday. The cops say that either Del is not taking this seriously or he does not realise the full implications of his last statement.
Del says he is pushed for time she she should hurry up and get them off. Del rips open her uniform, exposing her bra. All the punters laugh, and even the male copper tries to contain his laughter. Del says to Albert he should have come up with something more original and Albert says it is nothing to do with him and Del keeps laughing until he sees the police car in the car park.
Heartbroken, Raquel leaves for the Middle East just as Del Boy is taken into custody. He knows it is past noon now, and she is on her way to the airport. He asks the police officers if he can make a phonecall. The copper says he can make one. Del asks "You don't have the code for Addis Abbaba do you?".
- Derek "Del Boy" Trotter - David Jason
- Rodney Trotter - Nicholas Lyndhurst
- Albert Trotter - Buster Merryfield
- Boycie - John Challis
- Trigger - Roger Lloyd Pack
- Mike Fisher - Kenneth MacDonald
- Mickey Pearce - Patrick Murray
- Jevon - Steven Woodcock
- Raquel Turner - Tessa Peake Jones
- Technomatch Agent -
- Sonia - Jean Warren
- Policeman -
- Policewoman -
- Old Man - Uncredited
- Nerys Sansom - Andree Bernard
Previous Episode The Frog's LegacyEdit
Next Episode Yuppy LoveEdit
- First appearance of Raquel. This was also when Raquel mentioned she used to be married and her husband was bad news. It wasn't until two years later in "The Class of '62" when her and Del were a couple, that her much mentioned but never identified husband was finally revealed and was indeed Roy Slater, Del's old schoolmate and a corrupt police officer. In Dates Del said how her husband was a rough person and she had nothing but bad luck, not knowing at the time that his hated old schoolmate was that ex husband.
- This episode also saw the start of a new format for the show upon the exit of Ray Butt as producer. Gareth Gwenlan took over as the producer of the sitcom. Ray Butt's last episode was "The Frog's Legacy" and he wanted creator John Sullivan to end the show with that special. John initially gave it some thought but decided to keep the show on when "The Frog's Legacy" got positive reactions from the public. For years the show had featured many of Del's failed "get rich quick" schemes and failed relationships, or chasing young women. From "Dates" onwards, the show was revamped with 50 minute long episodes, and Del adopting a yuppy image as well as Rodney going to evening school to try and get a diploma and break away from being Del's dogsbody down markets. Also Del and Rodney were given long term partners, Raquel and Cassandra. Rodney did break away from being Del's dogsbody in the end but not for long as he soon, in true plonker style, lost his highly paid job and ended up working for Del again until they became millionaires in 1996, and even then that did not last.
- This special won a BAFTA "Best Comedy" Award in March 1989.
- At the Hilton, Raquel mentions having a line in Doctor Who, which is ironic, because the waiter in that scene is played by Nicholas Courtney, who played Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart in Doctor Who.
- According to the book The A-Z of Only Fools and Horses, this is John Sullivan's personal favourite episode.
- When Del rips the female officer's uniform open thinking she is a stripper, watch the face of the male police officer. The actor playing him is trying hard to contain his laughter.
- The Trotters flat (living room, hallway)
- The Nag's Head (main bar)
- Unknown street in Peckham
- Italian restaurant
- Technomatch Dating agency exterior
- Technomatch Dating agency (reception area, seating area)
- Waterloo Station (platforms, shops, clock)
- The Hilton Hotel, Park Lane exterior
- The Hilton Hotel Park Lane (restaurant)
- Unknown streets in Peckham
- Dual carriageway
- Nerys Hughe's house exterior
- Raquel's flat (lounge, kitchen)
- Boycie's house (hallway, stairwell)
- The Nags Head exterior (car park, alleyway leading away from car park, street)
- Sid's Cafe (seating area, counter)
- Police station exterior (doorway, street outside)
- Police station interior (entrance hallway)