Only Fools and Horses could only be as great as it was because of the incredible actors that filled its cast, with Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst obviously receiving the majority of plaudits for their performances.
But for the majority of the shows run they were part of a trio at the centre of the cast with the iconic Buster Merryfield. Buster was a bank manager and an amateur dramatist before his big break in joining the Only Fools cast back in 1984.
As a result of these humble origins Buster was always keen to give back to fans who loved his acting so much, and being so easily recognisable with that giant beard, interactions in the street with fans were fairly commonplace.
One such interaction happened in the middle of an interview in 1997 with the Daily Mirror. While walking with interviewer the pair passed a young couple and they called out Buster’s name.
When he stuttered a polite reply the cheeky young man said: “Oh shut up you old git,” doing his best impression of Del Boy. Lightning quick witted and playing along with a smile Buster quipped back “yeah, but during the war…” Giving everyone a hearty laugh.
Buster always imagined he would return to the character of Uncle Albert, believing the show still had plenty left in the tank. In the same 1997 interview he said: “Okay, they became millionaires, but there’s always the suspicion that the Trotters will lose it all and end up back in Nelson Mandela House.
“A lot depends on public reaction. If 20 million are prepared to watch it at Christmas, it doesn’t seem good business to throw it away. It looks as though it’s finished, but nobody really knows. Myself, David and Nicholas keep in touch. We’re all natural sort of blokes. And I suppose it’s that which has been the show’s greatest asset.”
Tragically for Buster, fans of the show, and his fellow cast members he wouldn’t live long enough to see the eventual revival in 2001, dying in 1999 as a result of a brain tumour. His work in Only Fools lives on though and none of the show’s fans will forget his hilarious contribution.