Only Fools And Horses / Best Sitcoms: my views on OFAH are pretty conventional I suspect – very good early on and then getting steadily worse as first Rodney and then Del Boy get hitched. The character of Cassandra at least had comic potential as a middle-class ‘regular’, but with the introduction of Raquel the series tilted fatally to the sentimental and has been a Christmas chore ever since. Not that audiences seem to care: I am clearly a sitcom snob. David Dickinson, the ‘advocate’ for OFOH in the BBC’s interminable Sitcom Idol votefest* put forward his ideas about why people loved it – they liked it because it was about Proper Things like death and marriage and growing old.

This idea that sitcoms should be bitter as well as sweet is one I find increasingly irksome. For my money a sitcom has one duty: it should make you laugh, as often as possible. Not a fond chuckle at the foibles of a favourite character but a GREAT BIG LAUGH at a JOKE. If the joke is dark or upsetting, fine, it doesn’t bother me as long as it is a joke. What I don’t enjoy are the sitcoms which eke out a diminishing supply of gags with more-or-less ‘serious bits’: something Only Fools And Horses in its latter days is a good example of. It’s also why I’ve never been able to tolerate Carla Lane.

*(a parade of incompetence by the way: they ran out of time and had to present the ‘award’ as the credits rolled, and then some wag followed the closing moments of this family-uniting laughter pageant with an ad for a programme about predatory paedophiles.)