Lyndhurst emerged as a prominent star among a new generation of
British situation comedy performers in the early 1980s, though he
had in fact by then already amassed a considerable number of years'
television experience, having started out as a child actor.
made the transition from child performer to adult star in gradual
stages, beginning as an actor in a string of children's dramas and
adventures like The Tomorrow People, Heidi and The Prince
and the Pauper (in which he played the dual leading role). He
also tried his hand as a presenter for children's television, co-hosting
for a time the series Our Show on Saturday mornings (with
Susan Tully and others). In 1978 his selection for the part of Ronnie
Barker's son in Going Straight, the sequel to the classic
prison comedy Porridge, marked the start of his emergence
as an adult performer, a process that was continued with his casting
as Wendy Craig's teenage son Adam in the long-running situation
The final stage in the transition to a mature performer came in
the hugely successful comedy series Only Fools and Horses,
in which Lyndhurst was entrusted with the role of Rodney, the hapless
and much put-upon younger brother of David Jason's immortal "Del
Boy" Trotter. As Rodney, a part he played for some ten years, Lyndhurst
was endearingly naive, sensitive and idealistic -- the perfect foil
to Jason's streetwise would-be millionaire. Frequently rendered
speechless at his brother's tricks and deceptions and all too often
living up to the "plonker" tag that his exasperated sibling bestowed
upon him, Rodney as played by Lyndhurst was widely praised as a
beautifully realised comic creation.
the end of the long run of Only Fools and Horses Rodney was
allowed to get married (to the long-suffering trainee banker Cassandra)
and much humour was devised from the inevitable difficulties he
experienced as a new husband. Subsequent situation comedies that
were constructed around Lyndhurst further developed the theme of
not dissimilar Rodney-style characters, bemused and indignant though
not necessarily quite as dimwitted as Rodney, trying to cope with
the demands of wives or girlfriends. In The Two of Us, for
instance, Lyndhurst's computer programmer Ashley wrestled with independent
girlfriend Elaine's reluctance to get married, despite his entreaties,
and with her contrasting views on just about any subject he cared
to raise. In Goodnight Sweetheart, meanwhile, his character
Gary Sparrow agonized over whether he should stay true to his brash
and pushy wife in their modern London flat or whether he should
desert her for the barmaid with whom he had formed a relationship
while exploring wartime London after finding a way to travel some
50 years back through time.
of the highly successful Only Fools and Horses series, kept
fresh through regular repeats of old episodes, have perhaps dominated
perceptions of the sort of roles Lyndhurst is capable of playing.
Typecast though he may have been in recent years, he remains, however,
unsurpassed in his playing of the henpecked husband or lover, well-meaning
but frequently nonplused by the tricks that fate plays on him.
Photo courtesy of Nicholas Lyndhurst
LYNDHURST. Born in Emsworth, Hampshire, England, 20 April 1961.
Attended Corona Stage Academy, 1980. Began career as television
performer, from a young age; comedy performer as Rodney Trotter
in Only Fools and Horses; star, several situation comedy
series. Address: Chatto and Linnit, Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry
Street, London W1V 7FE, England.
1981-91 Only Fools and Horses
1986-90 The Two of Us
1990 The Piglet Files
1993- Goodnight Sweetheart
Endless Night, 1971; Bequest to the Nation, 1973; Bullshot,
1983; Gun Bus.
Ewbank, Tim. "The Name is Lyndhurst...Nicholas Lyndhurst." TV
Times (London), 1 September 1990.