Time On Our Hands
Series 09, Episode 3
Time On Our Hands
Air Date December 29, 1996
Written by John Sullivan
Director Tony Dow
Length 60 minutes
Previous episode "Modern Men"
Next episode "Comic Relief Special"
List of episode

"Time on Our Hands" was the third and final part of the 1996 Christmas trilogy of Only Fools And Horses, airing on the 27th December 1996 with a viewing figure of 24.3 million, and was meant to be the last ever episode of the show. The Trotters became millionaires in this episode and after years of working on markets selling dodgy gear in all kinds of weather they could enjoy a millionaire lifestyle, for at least the next 5 years at least. A the time of broadcast, this was meant to be, very likely, the last ever episode but the show was to return 5 years later due to popular demand. Time On Our Hands was watched by a staggering 24.1 million viewers.


Raquel's parents come to Peckham for a family dinner, which leads to some surprising for the Trotters. Could it really be that by this time next week they're millionaires?


The episode opens with a nervous Raquel planning the visit of her parents, James and Audrey, for dinner at the flat, and worrying about them meeting Del Boy for the first time. Del and Uncle Albert reassure her that they will help out. Del is still worried about Rodney after he and Cassandra had suffered a miscarriage two weeks previously, and Albert suggests that they come up with a "counter-worry" to take his mind off it, which leads to Del pretending to be ill, though Rodney barely notices.


Del & Rodney have a heart to heart in the lift

Later that day, Del and Rodney are in the lift when it breaks down. After being trapped in there for some time, the Trotter Brothers have a discussion about Rodney and Cassandra's miscarriage. Rodney admits that he's spent too much time feeling sorry for himself since Cassandra lost their baby. Del tells Rodney that it's just a dropped stitch in life's tapestry, which their late mother Joan used to say whenever things went wrong. Rodney agrees and is finally at peace with the whole thing, and Del suggests to Rodney to go home and have a heart-to-heart with Cassandra. Once the conversation is over, Del successfully fixes the lift himself, and gets it working again. Only then does Rodney realise that Del had in fact tampered with the controls, in order to force Rodney to talk. The Trotter Brothers share a hearty laugh.

That evening, James and Audrey Turner, Raquel's parents, arrive for the meal, and all appears to be going well. However, whilst moving the coffee that Albert has prepared in the kitchen, Del realises that it is actually gravy, and thus Albert's "gravy" that they are pouring on their dinners is in fact coffee. The dinner is ruined, when all around the table politely mention that they are full up. When picking up his car from the Trotters' garage the following day, James — an antiques dealer — spots an old watch engraved "Harrison" on a gas stove. After closer examination, he suggests that it may be the work of John Harrison, the man who designed and built the world's first successful maritime clock in the 18th century.

The watch is examined by experts, and all accept it to be the Harrison "lesser watch", a semi-mythical piece whose designs exist but it is unclear whether the watch was ever made. It goes to auction at Sotheby's and after hearing the opening bid of £150,000, Del promptly faints. When Del recovers, he and Rodney rush back into the auction room, with the bidding still going on. The latest bid is revealed to be £3,500,000 (which Del thinks is £350,000) only when the next bid comes in at £4,000,000 with the auctioneer stating 'The Bid now stands at four million pounds' Rodney faints. It emerges that the final bid was at £6,200,000. When Rodney re-reads the Sotheby's statement in the Trotter Van, the Trotter Brothers begin whooping hysterically, rocking the van with their overjoyed lunacy.

Del and Rodney visit Boycie's car showroom and, unaware of their new fortune, he teases them about having their photograph taken next to one of his Rolls Royces. Rodney, wanting to pay his older brother back for helping throughout his life (including getting over Cassandra's miscarriage), buys the car for Del, much to Boycie's horror. The Trotters then visit The Nag's Head and receive a round of applause and standing ovation from the regulars.

The final scenes, done to "Our House" sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, show the Trotters enjoying their new wealth. Del and Raquel move into a mansion while Rodney and Cassandra buy a luxury riverside apartment and they buy Albert a boat, which he promptly crashes into a bridge on the Thames.

Del returns to their now empty flat in Nelson Mandela House, and recalls the memories from the flat over the years, including quotes from their parents, and Grandad. Rodney also returns, and Del reveals that he is already beginning to miss the old life as a market trader. Albert returns to the flat to get some of his belongings as well to have one last look, and the three leave, though not before Del has answered a call from Lenny Morris offering them 250 carpet steamers. Del is initially keen, but a serious Rodney tells his older brother that they aren't in the business any more. Del reluctantly tells Lenny that "Trotters Independent Traders has ceased trading."

In the last scene, Del, Rodney, and Albert walk off into an animated sunrise, with Del arguing that they should

Time on Our Hands

invest their new money in the futures market (making one last claim that this was one of the many things his mother Joan said on her deathbed), with the closing refrain: "This time next year, we could be billionaires!"

And so, things have really come up roses for the Trotters, at least until five years later...

Featured characters

Other notes

Story arc

  • The greatest connection was revealed in this episode. The receipt Rodney finds to legally prove the John Harrison "lesser watch" belonged to the Trotters was presumably amongst the receipts Rodney was leafing through in the opening scene of "Big Brother".

Continuity errors

  • In the scene where he is looking through the garage before going with Del to the lifts, Rodney lifts up two of the Russian Army camcorders at the same time - whereas in "Fatal Extraction", Rodney could barely carry one camcorder because they were so heavy.
  • During the time Del and Rodney are stuck in the lift, as Denzil and Mickey Pearce take furniture out of the Trotters' flat, the door number is clearly 127, yet it was stated in "Hole in One" during the court case that the Trotters live at 368 Nelson Mandela House.

Production goofs

  • The Trotter garage is a lot smaller than the one seen in "It's Only Rock and Roll", where it had a wall opposite and was much larger.
  • In the scene were Del and Rodney celebrate in the Trotter Van outside Sotheby's, the weather is fine when they get in and whilst they are talking in the van; however, when the scene cuts to show the van rocking as they celebrate it is raining heavily.
  • When James comes down to the garage to collect his BMW, you can see that the car is green. In the subsequent scene when they are talking about the "lesser watch", the car is red.

Miscellaneous trivia

  • This episode attracted a television audience of 24.3 million, a record for a British sitcom.
  • Del, Rodney, and Uncle Albert were originally intended to become cartoon characters as they walked off into the animated sunrise at the end. It was John Sullivan's opinion that they could no longer be real, and thus end the show. At the last minute, it was changed to enable a sequel trilogy.
  • During the Trotter Family's last-minute attempts to get everything ready for the big dinner with Raquel's parents, Del is seen pouring some Tia Maria in a glass and then topping it up with Lucozade. He first tasted this in "To Hull and Back" after Rodney ordered it for him at the bar of the Nag's Head.
  • This would be one of the few episodes that used incidental music in some scenes. Similar to the final scene of "Three Men, a Woman, and a Baby".

DVD cuts and edits

  • On the VHS and R2 DVD release, the track "Our House" was not sung by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Due to contractual reasons, it was sung by Helen Reddy. The lyrics were also modified. Instead of the words "Cats", it was "Dogs" in the subsequent version.


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