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The Russians Are Coming
Series 01, Episode 06
The Russians Are Coming.jpg
Air Date October 13, 1981
Written by John Sullivan
Director Martin Shardlow
Length 30 minutes
Previous episode "A Slow Bus To Chingford"
Next episode "Christmas Crackers"
List of episode

Fearing that a war is coming, Rodney and Grandad persuade Del to build a nuclear war shelter.


Del Boy purchases a pile of bricks and discovers several boxes of lead underneath, Rodney discovers (in some old paperwork found with the lead) that the lead is for a do-it-yourself nuclear fallout shelter. Rodney persuades Del that, with a potential World War III looming, they should build the shelter rather than sell it. Del agrees to test out the shelter over the weekend.

Several potential locations for the shelter, including Grandad's allotment and his own idea of a spot in the New Forest, prove unworkable as the trio are unable to beat the four minute warning (due to a run-in with the police).

The remainder of the episode is set in the shelter, where the discussion turns to war and the potential aftermath of the impending one. Del suggests that the present generation of British youngsters have been denied their birthright of a war, which sparks a tirade by Grandad, who gives a passionate "war is hell" speech. The episode ends with Del dreaming aloud of what could become of the world in the event of nuclear fallout, while the camera zooms out to reveal the location of the Trotters' fallout shelter; at the top of their tower block, Nelson Mandela House.

Featured characters

Other notes

Story arc

  • During his "war is hell" speech, Grandad mentions his brother, George, who would also be mentioned in "Strained Relations" as being Del's assumed godfather.
  • Grandad's allotment is not only mentioned in this episode, but it also appears eleven years later in "Mother Nature's Son", which would contradict what Grandad said about never having a garden in "Homesick".

Episode concept

  • The idea for the script was based on a true story which John Sullivan was reading about, which involved a group of people who did as the script suggested: purchased lead and built an air-raid shelter.

Miscellaneous trivia

  • The episode was first screened whilst the real-life Soviet war in Afghanistan was ongoing.
  • In his "war is hell" speech, Grandad mentioned that his brother fought at Passchendaele. Known as the Third Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Passchendaele was a major campaign fought on the Western Front of Belgium during World War I from the 31st July to the 10th November 1917 for control of the Passchendaele Ridges south and east of the Belgian town of Ypres.
    • Grandad also mentioned the reality in association of what had occurred during both the outbreak, and the campaigns of the First World War, including teenage boys young as 13-14, putting their ages up for enlistment, men enlisting, thinking it is their duty to their homeland, and it is an adventure, the horrors of trench warfare on the Western Front, including the first use of mustard gas on the battlefield, and the roles that the politicians played in military strategic decisions during wartime.
    • Another point that Grandad mentioned was the effects that the First World War had on the men who survived, including physical injuries - e.g., Men suffering from lung damage from the effects of mustard gas, and the psychological injuries, - e.g., Shellshock (now known as Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD), as well as the treatment of the men suffering from PTSD, including housing them in psychiatric homes in secret from the public.