Only Fools and Horses "Licensed to Drill" (found educational episode of British sitcom; 1984)

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OFAH Drill.jpg

The cover of the original promotional videotape.

Status: Found

Date found: 2017

Found by: BBC

Only Fools and Horses is a British sitcom created and written by John Sullivan, and initially starring David Jason as Derek "Del-Boy" Trotter, Nicholas Lyndhurst as Rodney Trotter, and Lennard Pearce as "Grandad", prior to the latter's death in December 1984. Produced and broadcast by the BBC, in 1984 the comedic trio would be utilized in a film commissioned by the Maureen Oilfield Consortium[1] in order to educate British schoolchildren on crude oil and its many uses. Although never truly "lost" according[2] to journalist Steve Clark, the episode would never be officially released and was only distributed in obscure bootlegs of tapes originally sent out to schools across the United Kingdom. Until its upload on Romanian video sharing site[3] in 2013, the episode was considered lost by the majority of fans of the series, as it could not be readily bought or watched anywhere.

Despite its lacklustre premise, the episode holds historical significance as it marks the final time that Lennard Pearce would reprise his role as Grandad, as he would pass away shortly after filming for Hole in One, the intended Series 4 premiere, had commenced.


Philip Caudill, director of the European division of Phillips Petroleum, was a huge fan of Only Fools and Horses and was interested in having an episode of the comedy center around the Trotter family attempting to get into the oil business. John Sullivan[4] wrote the script, and the episode was filmed by Topaz Productions, as the BBC were not interested.

The original uncut tape lasts for 27 minutes[5], however, 8 of these are from an oil-based documentary directed by William Hague, who confusingly received directing credit for the whole special, despite John Sullivan having directed its majority. As a result, the special is only 19 minutes long.


As part of the 2003 Only Fools and Horses convention, the tape received[6] its premiere screening after being rediscovered by Laura Daynes, whose former school still owned a copy of the tape. Around 2006, the script[7] was posted to Only Fools and Horses fansite The Nag's Head, alongside a pair of low-resolution screen captures. In the early 2010s, the episode was made available to the general internet public, and it would finally air[8] (with the Hague documentary parts removed) in an unremastered form as part of the six-part documentary The Story of Only Fools and Horses in the fall[9] of 2017. As of 2020, The Story of Only Fools and Horses continues to be shown on a regular basis on British television.


  1. British Comedy Guide page on "Licensed to Drill". Retrieved 07 May '20
  2. Steve Clark - "Missing episode" of Only Fools and Horses. Retrieved 07 May '20
  3. - Licensed to Drill Part 1. Retrieved 07 May '20
  4. Clark, S. and Paphitis, T., 2011. Only Fools And Horses - The Official Inside Story. New York: Splendid Books Limited.
  5. blog entry on "Licensed to Drill". Retrieved 07 May '20
  6. - 2003 OFAH Convention. Retrieved 07 May '20
  7. The Nag's Head - "Licensed to Drill" script. Retrieved 07 May '20
  8. Metro article on lost Only Fools and Horses episode. Retrieved 07 May '20
  9. Digital Spy article on "Licensed to Drill". Retrieved 07 May '20