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Friday, April 30, 1999 Published at 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK


Del Boy goes Stateside

American actors will replace David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst

BBC comedy Only Fools and Horses is to be remade for the United States under a money-spinning deal.

Castle Rock Entertainment, makers of Seinfeld, have bought the format for the popular BBC One sitcom, which drew more than 24m British viewers for one of the final episodes in 1996.

American actors will take the place of David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst as lead characters Del Boy and Rodney Trotter in the new US version of the show.

But series writer John Sullivan will produce the new series and help script-writers to translate the British show to an American setting.

Close to British version as possible

Sullivan and the BBC stand to share in profits from the deal. Tim Hancock, whose company Roger Hancock Ltd helped broker the deal, said: "They want to keep it as close as possible to the British version.

"They have seen 75 tapes from the British show. The current view is that it certainly ain't bust, so why fix it?"

Hancock is confident US viewers will take to the format.

"I told the Americans: `Don't look at it as about the south London parochial humour, because you won't get half of it," he said.

"Concentrate on three generations of a family living on top of each other in less-than salubrious conditions, and the humour, warmth and care they have for each other.'

"Del Boy sacrifices a lot for everyone. He could have left Rodney, but didn't - that kind of family closeness is as American as apple pie."

Mixed reception for British shows

Sales of British programmes overseas were worth more than 300m in last year alone but British comedy formats have always received a mixed reception abroad.

Men Behaving Badly flopped in the US, supposedly due to lead characters Tony and Gary's laddish antics being by toned down by US producers.

Dozens of less well-known examples to make the trip over the years include On The Buses, The Likely Lads and Birds Of A Feather.

Other programmes to have more success across the water are Till Death Us Do Part which reappeared as All In The Family and One Foot In The Grave, remade as Cosby, with Bill Cosby replacing Richard Wilson as the lead.

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