Ofah del in hospital

Del Boy has stomach pains and ends up in hospital. His first and last stay in hospital.

"Sickness And Wealth" was the 5th episode in Series six of Only Fools And Horses, airing on the 5th February 1989 with a viewing figure of 18.2 million. This was an episode which mixed comedy with pathos as Del Boy is suffering with stomach pains and is secretly worried that it could be something serious, but it turns out to be down to too many curries and pina coladas. Writer John Sullivan said he wanted Del Boy to encounter illness for the first time in his life.


Several weeks have passed since the Trotters came back from their disastrous trip to Mallorca, where Rodney had to pretend to be 14 all week. Since the return from holiday Del Boy has been suffering stomach cramps. In the flat one night Del explains to Albert that he is suffering financial difficulties and is facing eviction as he has not paid the rent on the flat for the last 3 months. Albert berates him for spending too much time in the wine bars and bistros. Albert mentions Elsie Partridge to Del Boy, saying she is a clairvoyant and Del Boy sees a money making opportunity.

A few days later Del Boy has met up with Elsie and arranged a trial run at The Nags Head to see if the seance is any good. Del is told off by Mike Fisher for the amount of money he owes him for the endless fry ups, cigars and Pina Coladas he has had all on the slate in the past month. Del Boy then says to Mike that he could also cash in on Elsie's seances. A score for Elvis Presley, hoping his ghost comes to the seance.

The boys go up and get ready for the seance. Elsie tries to contact the dead and "claims" that she has got a message from Boycie 's father, saying he must look after his child. Boycie and his wife Marlene cannot have kids due to his impotence. Boycie says his dad always gave him a hard time for not giving him a grandchild and then leaves in a huff. Elsie then says she has got a message from Joan Mavis Trotter saying that Del Boy must go and see a doctor about his stomach pains and that she feels his pain. Nerys Sansom interrupts the seance saying the bar is getting full. Rodney thinks the message from their mum will persuade Del Boy to go to the docs but Del still refuses to go. Rodney says it will only take Del 10 minutes to see the doc. Del is still reluctant. Albert thanks Elsie for pretending she got a message from Joan saying Del should go to the docs. Albert says the only person he'd ever listen to was his mum.

Dow at the bar Marlene says she is pregnant. Del is shocked and gets another cramp in his stomach. Rodney and Trigger support him so he does not collapse.

A day or 2 later, having thought there may be some truth in the messages Elsie received from the dead during the seance, Del goes to see the doctor only to find his usual doc, Dr. Robbie Meadows is now at the local hospital and a new female doctor, Dr Shaheed has taken his place. Del nervously cracks jokes, none of which impress the doctor. He says he has been having pains in his stomach, some sharp, some dull. She asks him to strip to the waist, and he infuriates her by stripping from the waist down. Del says he is a vegetarian and never smokes or drinks, apart from 1 cigar at Christmas. Due to not telling the truth about his lifestyle, the doctor admits him to hospital, saying tests should be done as the pains could be a grumbling appendix. She says she is not sure what the pains are. Del is scared as he hates hospitals. He phones Rodney, who is more worried that the daily episode of Aussie soap Neighbours has just started on TV and suggests Del takes a cab. Del says he does not want to go to the hospital alone. Rodney agrees. Del puts the phone down, his hands shaking.

A few days later in The Nags Head, Mike asks Rodney if there is any news from the hospital about Del. Rodney says no news, he does not have a grumbling appendix, they dont seem to know what it is so are keeping him in hospital under observation. Albert reckons it may be Green Parrot Disease. Cassandra Parry comforts Rodney saying Del is in hospital which is the best place he can be right now. Rodney said he prayed last night that Del would not die. He also says Del got stabbed outside a dance hall once but treated the wounds himself due to his fear of hospitals. Rodney says he could not really report it to the police as he was engaged to her at the time.

That night, Rodney, Cassandra and Albert visit Del in hospital. It is quite a cosy ward, not the usual white bedclothes and white walls. Del says they are doing more tests and he has to fast for 24 hours, but still takes a bite of the bacon sandwich he got Rodney to ask Mike to bring in for him. Del also asks about the other night which was the big night for Del as it was the Pukka Seance Night. Rodney says that the 'pukka seance' went badly wrong after a mix-up because of Del's posters, which led a group of punk rockers to turn up thinking they were seeing an Iron Maiden -esque band instead of Elsie Partridge (though as Rodney quips "Fortunately she remained in a trance throughout the riot!"). Albert and Cassandra then leave and Del says he wants to talk to Rodney alone.

Del says he thinks he knows what may be wrong with him, he worries it is AIDS even though he never states the illness by name, we can guess what it is when he talks about his promiscuous past and the fact he had a trim round the back recently by a gay hairdresser who may have nipped his neck with the comb. Del worries he may not have long to live if he has that illness. Rodney tries to reassure Del and say it is nothing as serious as that or the docs would have known by now. Rodney leaves but as he does, Del yelps out in pain. Rodney calls for the nurse but all that has happened is Del has sat on his bacon sandwich.

The following morning, a still very worried Del is sat in his hospital bed when he is approached by Dr Robbie Meadows, his old GP, who has been put in charge of his case. Del asks why and Meadows says it was an accident really, he was talking to some colleagues and Del's name cropped up, and seeing as Del was Dr Meadows former patient, Meadows asked to look at his file and found he was reading about a vegetarian teetotal celibate health freak when he knew Del was not like that, but a Castella King, curry connoisseur and a man who has lived his life on fried bread and doubtful women.

Dr Meadows says he knows what is wrong with Del. Del, while petrified says he can take it. Dr Meadows says basically there is nothing wrong with Del. Del's stomach churning days of worry suddenly turn to huge relief as he kisses the air, punches the air and says "Thank God". He asks why is he getting pains and the doc says it is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, basically down to too many curries and Pina Coladas. Meadows mildly scolds Del for lying to his GP, telling him that because he had not been truthful about his lifestyle, Del had confused the doctors handling his case since they believed they were dealing with the "perfect man", and had he been honest from the start his diagnosis would have taken far less time, and Del may not have even ended up in hospital, not even as an outpatient.

Warning him to actively lead a healthier lifestyle, Meadows then reveals that he has phoned the Council, who have given Del some breathing space with regard to his rent arrears. He then tells Del to pop his prescription into the pharmacy on the way home to pick it up. Del says "You mean I can go"? and Dr Meadows says "Yes and don't come back", meaning to stick to a better diet from now on. He has discharged Del from hospital and then says goodbye to him and leaves. Del, who after an initial macho posture of claiming that he knew he was really alright, breaks down in relief.

A few days later, back at Nelson Mandela House, a housebound Del is disgusted at his Muesli diet and taking it easy but is getting better, until Rodney comes home and announces he is getting married. This makes Del yelp out in pain.


Main cast

Guest cast

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  • It was revealed in Del's 2015 autobiography He Who Dares that when Del was discharged from hospital, he celebrated by visiting a curry house on the way home as this fasting made him hungry.
  • The VHS and DVD release of this episode somehow edits out the background music being played in The Nags Head during the pub scenes in the original broadcast and any repeats on Gold, the UK Sky comedy channel. When Rodney is saying he prayed Del would not die, Simply Red's "Its Only Love" was played.
  • John Sullivan said that he wrote this episode because he wanted Del to encounter illness for the first time in his life and even question his own mortality. For a sitcom, this episode was an unusually downbeat episode as Del was worried about the diagnosis (AIDS crossed his mind due to his promiscuous past) but Del had not told the doctor the truth about his lifestyle otherwise he would have just got an immediate diagnosis and not ended up in hospital, he may have just been asked to come back to the GP a day or 2 later and pick up some "jollop", which is slang for medicine. Del only had IBS, and deep down Del knew it was nothing serious. A few episodes later, Del returned to his usual flippant style when he mocked AIDS in "Rodney Come Home" to try and frighten Rodney out of his extra marital date.


  • At the start of the episode, Del says he has not been able to pay the rent on the flat for the past three months. Yet in "Chain Gang" two episodes earlier, Del says he is a businessman and he always has money pugged away for emergencies, and this was £4000. Even though Arnie conned Del and his mates out of the £12'500, they retrieved it at the end of that episode, as Del had a bolt cutter to get into Arnie's briefcase. This means Del would have had money to pay the rent.
  • Rodney said Del has never been in hospital as a patient, but in "Tea for Three", Del had to go to A&E for treatment as an outpatient after crashing into an aerial. Surely this would count as a hospital stay, unless Rodney meant Del has never been in hospital as an in patient, for 1 night or more.

Locations seenEdit