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The Longest Night
Series 05, Episode 03
The Longest Night.jpg
Air Date September 14, 1986
Written by John Sullivan
Director Mandie Fletcher
Length 30 minutes
Previous episode "The Miracle of Peckham"
Next episode "Tea for Three"
List of episode

The Trotters are held hostage inside the manager's office of a supermarket by "The Shadow".


During their weekly shopping trip at their local supermarket, Del Boy, Rodney, and Uncle Albert are called up to the manager Mr. Peterson's office after being wrongly accused of shoplifting. But then, a young 20-year old man enters the supermarket and tries to steal some food, but Tom Clark, the head security officer, catches him in the act and takes up to the manager's office. But the young man, who reveals himself as "The Shadow", turns the tables by pointing a handgun at everyone in the room, including the Trotters. It seems that The Shadow's goal is to steal a vast sum of money from the supermarket's safe, but unfortunately, he comes up short when the safe has a time lock that won't open again until tomorrow morning, and that he has a faulty watch (earlier sold to him by Del).

Throughout the night, the Trotters try to keep themselves from boredom, such as Albert doing exercise. The Shadow brags to the Trotters that the police gave him his nickname because he is as fast and quiet in a manner very similar to that of The Scarlet Pimpernel.

The next morning, with only half an hour to go until the safe's time lock reopens, Del and Albert, along with Mr. Peterson and Mr. Clark, wake up to see Rodney running the risk of tip-toeing over to reach and grab the sleeping Shadow's gun. But unfortunately, Rodney just picks up a packet of cigarettes. The Shadow wakes up, and recognizes Del as the man who used to sell him and his mother shoes when he was a boy. Del also recognizes The Shadow as Lennox Gilbey, and the two get acquainted again. Lennox reveals that he is not really a wanted criminal and is doing this to beat poverty, as nobody will give him a job. Del attempts to persuade Lennox to give the theft up, but Lennox then reveals that Mr. Peterson and Mr. Clark are in on it as well: Peterson has a spendaholic wife, and the pension Clark will receive from his imminent retirement is far too small to live on. In order to solve their respective problems, the three planned to break into the safe and share all the money, and do to that, they needed some independent witnesses, who turned out to be the Trotters by sheer luck.

Instead of going to the police, Del strikes a deal with them: they will hire Lennox as a security guard with a view to becoming head security officer when Mr. Clark retires, and when the Trotters return to the supermarket later that day (as most of the food from their original shopping trip is now ruined), they will be named the supermarket's millionth customers and awarded a £1,000 prize that has been advertised. Mr. Peterson agrees with the proposal, and Del shakes hands with him to seal the deal.

Featured characters

Other notes

Episode concept

  • The idea for the script was based on a true story that John Sullivan had read about a small-time criminal who went into a supermarket and pulled off a scam with the security manager and the store manager.

Miscellaneous trivia

  • This episode is the third and final of only three episodes of Only Fools and Horses in which the interior of the Trotters' flat is not seen. The other two are "Cash and Curry" from the first series, and "Who's a Pretty Boy?" from the third series.