Is It Possible To Write About Peckham Without Mentioning Del Boy?

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 12 months ago
Is It Possible To Write About Peckham Without Mentioning Del Boy?
Did you know that Only Fools and Horse was set in Peckham?

Here's a fascinating trivia nugget for you: did you know that the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses was set in Peckham? Yes, of course you did. So — and here's the thing that's driving us berserk — do we really need to be reminded of this every single time we read an article about Peckham? Apparently so.

A Daily Mail article about a leaky flat couldn't resist mentioning Peckham was "famously the stomping ground of dodgy entrepreneur Del Boy in TV's much-loved Only Fools And Horses". This a fact the Mail is clearly proud of, because in an article from 2014, they described Peckham thus: "famously the stomping ground of dodgy entrepreneur Del Boy in TV's much-loved Only Fools And Horses". What's particularly special about these two identical sentences is that they're apparently written by different journalists.

But the Mail is just one perpetrator. A favourite move of journalists is to compare Del Boy's Carribean Stallion-slurping Peckham to the negroni-slurping Peckham of today: the Standard describes the area as "Once synonymous with Only Fools And Horses", the Telegraph reports that "Only Fools and Horses' Peckham has been transformed", Movebubble explains "Peckham was most strongly connoted to long running British comedy Only Fools and Horses", Property Week reports that Peckham is "associated with Del Boy from TV comedy Only Fools & Horses", Desperately Seeking Adventure states there are "No Fools Or Horses!" in Peckham, The London Ecomonic reveals Peckham is "Famous for: "Only Fools and Horses of course! The Nag’s Head pub is still open for business… just" (even though the original Nag's Head wasn't in Peckham), and Moove 2 London boldly declares that "Peckham and Nunhead still carry an almost comical reputation, possibly due to Peckham being the home of the Trotter family in Only Fools and Horses."

For others, a mere mention of Only Fools isn't enough, as proved in the Guardian piece on "how today's Peckham compares with Only Fools and Horses", which goes on to muse "surely Peckham is less like the way it was depicted in Only Fools and Horses than ever". And a piece from the Express, exclaims that Tower Hamlets council bosses are "plonkers" for wanting to name a building — "not in the Only Fools and Horses area of Peckham but a few miles away" — Nelson Mandela House. Because obviously the thing you most associate the South African revolutionary with is Del Boy falling through the bar.

What started out as a cheeky doff of the flat cap to John Sullivan's sitcom has become an endless torrent of hooky writing. David Jason is great and everything, but it's not like every article about Transylvania starts: "Once synonymous with the popular children's cartoon Count Duckula..." Maybe it's time to start talking about how Peckham is associated with Muriel Spark or William Blake or Thomas Tilling.  After all, he who dares, wins.

Last Updated 15 November 2017