Only Fools and Horses writer John Sullivan had long been considering an Only Fools spin-off, having over the years developed a televisual universe rich with characters and backstory to be explored.
But returning to Peckham without the Trotters, despite the great wealth of stories left to tell, may have been difficult. Not least for the viewer - Sullivan worried that without the Trotters, something would always have been missing.
So perhaps that is why he chose to take the Boyces out of the city and move them to a new location altogether - the green grass of rural Shropshire ("wherever that is") - where both he and his characters could start afresh.
Boycie is in trouble with the Driscoll Brothers - "the South London Mafia" - imminently due for release from a prison sentence they think he grassed them up for. He decides not to hang around to find out just how angry they are, quickly selling his house and successful car dealership and moving his family (wife Marlene and teenage son Tyler) from Peckham to a comparatively isolated country farm. Understandably they are completely unprepared for this upheaval, especially as Boycie didn't consult them first, but the family sticks together.
Of course, the story of a city squealer relocating to the country isn't entirely new. Sullivan had been talking about relocating Boycie to the countryside for some time before Simon Day's underrated comedy-drama Grass brought a similar concept to our screens with some success, and there are a few superficial parallels between the two programmes beyond name.
But where Grass focussed on the awkward reinvention of a compulsive liar, and the peculiar relationship between him and the police officers tasked with his protection, The Green Green Grass takes a more traditional, family-oriented approach: Sullivan's programme is about the trials of a family starting again in an alien environment, each with their own city habits and each requiring a dramatic change in lifestyle. Not to mention the challenges Boycie faces when he assumes ownership of a farm - complete with staff.
But their behaviour and attitudes would probably be most at home in Only Fools and Horses, which is exactly what the audience would expect: while The Green Green Grass isn't a continuation of the Only Fools story, it is imbued with the same good-natured humour and sensitivity to the drama of daily life.
9/10 (3 Votes cast)