Spotlight on Nicholas Lyndhurst

Dateline: January 23, 2000

Nearly a generation in Britain has watched Nicholas Lyndhurst grow up from a lanky teenager in Carla Lane's Butterflies to leading man in the comedy Goodnight Sweetheart. In between he appeared in one of the most popular UK comedies of all time, Only Fools And Horses, as David Jason's dim brother Rodney as well as many other productions of note.

Born in 1961, he made a guest appearance in a 1977 episode of The Tomorrow People ("Hitler's Last Secret") before getting the part of Adam in Butterflies. He played the son of Geoffrey Palmer and Wendy Craig (who as Kia had the precedent setting role as a terrible sitcom mother - her inability to cook anything was a running joke - and was tempted to have an affair). Even though it was a comedy, the theme of adultery would later figure into another Lyndhurst series.

He appeared in 1980's To Serve Them All My Days, and then began his long run as Rodney, the lesser half of the Trotter brothers in Only Fools And Horses. Written by John Sullivan, the series ran on and off for years, culminating in a three-part Christmas special in 1996 that set record ratings on the BBC. The scene with Rodney and Del Boy (David Jason) running down a dark street dressed as Batman and Robin is a classic (and Lyndhurst - even though about two feet taller than Burt Ward - was perfect, even doing the patented "punching his hand into his other glove" Robin move at one point). Del Boy often referred to the long-suffering Rodney as a "plonker," a term that made its way into the British lexicon as someone who is a bit inept and can't quite measure up to expectations. Such is fame.

In 1990, he took time off from Horses to star in The Piglet Files, a spy parody (echoes of which would be seen later in Goodnight Sweetheart) as a would-be secret agent working for Clive Francis. In 1993 he appeared in the clever TV movie Stalag Luft alongside Stephen Fry as WWII P.O.W.s who take over their German prison camp and then have to pretend to be their own guards so the Gestapo don't find out. Lyndhurst was reunited with his TV "dad," Geoffrey Palmer, as the commandant who escapes from his own prison. When Stephen Fry begins to take his role as a "German" too seriously, it's up to Lyndhurst to organize the men for a real escape from his fellow British officers!

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