"A Royal Flush" is the fifth Christmas special episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses, first screened on 25 December 1986. It was re-edited into a shorter version with added laughter track and released on DVD in 2004. Gold have now adopted this version for repeats on their channel. In the episode, Rodney becomes friends with the daughter of a Duke, and Del decides to help him make the right impression.
As Del Boy sells cutlery to the local market crowd, Rodney spots an attractive woman, and abandons his lookout position to talk to her. At Sid's cafe, she introduces herself as Vicky. Upon further reading, Rodney discovers that she is Lady Victoria Marsham Hales of Covington House, Berkshire, the daughter of the Duke of Maylebury, a second cousin of the Queen and explains that her mother died in a skiing accident. Sensing a chance to make the Trotter family millionaires, Del decides to assist Rodney's blossoming friendship with Lady Victoria, such as by acquiring tickets for the opera Carmen.
On the night of the opera, Rodney and Victoria arrive, only to see that Del has also shown up, along with June Snell (last seen in "Happy Returns"), a former girlfriend of Del and mother of one of Rodney's ex-girlfriends. Del and June ruin the night by noisily eating snacks, talking during the performance, and arguing with other members of the audience. Nonetheless, Victoria invites Rodney to stay at Covington House for the weekend. Wanting Rodney to make a good impression, Del insists that he dresses as a country gentleman in a tweed suit. Already nervous during the weekend in Berkshire, Rodney is horrified when Del arrives with a reluctant Albert in the Reliant Regal, claiming to have turned up to deliver Rodney's evening suit that he "forgot" (although Rodney knows that he packed it and Del removed it so he had an excuse to turn up). As Rodney seethes with anger, Del introduces himself to Victoria's father Henry and invites himself to that evening's dinner having coincidentally brought his own evening suit. Del takes part in their clay pigeon shoot using a pump-action shotgun borrowed from Iggy Iggins, a local bank robber, and quickly begins to irritate Henry.
At dinner, Del gets drunk and boorish and starts insulting the guests with lewd comments, touting a marriage between Rodney and Victoria, not shutting up about the artist Leonardo Di Vinci and embarrassing Rodney by revealing his conviction for possession of cannabis. Del finally pushes the Duke over the edge by telling a skiing joke (despite knowing that's how Victoria's mother died). In a fury, the Duke demands Del meets him outside. As the two leave, Victoria asks Rodney if he's still staying overnight. He regretfully declines and decides to go home, which Victoria allows. Outside the Duke orders that Del, Rodney and Albert are to leave his premises immediately. Del tells the Duke that Rodney may need to be paid off to leave Victoria alone.
Back at the flat, a furious Rodney relates to a very hung over Del how he has always ruined his opportunities to make a success of his life by interfering, and injures his hand punching a vent cover out of anger. After Rodney reveals that he refused the offer of a £1000 pay-off from the Duke to stop seeing Vicky (angering Del, who had arranged the offer), Del says that had Rodney refused to stop seeing Victoria, he would probably have been assassinated by the Special Branch because of his conviction for marijuana use. Del ostensibly apologises to Rodney and asks him to shake his hand, but this turns out to be a ploy for Del to inflict punishment on Rodney for refusing the £1000 by squeezing his bad hand.The Smiths - Ask
Erasure - Sometimes
Kent Opera: Handel's Overture for the Royal Fireworks
Kent Opera: Extracts from Bizet's Carmen
This episode was inspired by two things. One was how the younger nobility were becoming closer, apparently, to the working class and the second was stories in the newspapers about Special Branch being employed to protect the younger royals from possible kidnap. Sullivan put these two things together when writing the episode and created the storyline of how Del would protect Rodney and at the same time make a few bob on it. "Although Del comes across as rather cruel in the episode, his heart is in the right place".
The episode was first released on the VHS format. The VHS release has the episode intact as per its original broadcast.
The DVD was later released containing the 2004 edited version and not the original broadcast version. This version was heavily re-edited and included a laughter track which the original broadcast did not have, reportedly due to the limited time available between recording and broadcast. The reason for the edits and cuts was Sullivan's dissatisfaction with the original version, feeling that it seemed to show Del Boy in a negative light. Whereas Del was always seen to be a lovable rogue, in this episode there were some scenes where he came over as boorish and offensive.
The original broadcast version was released on DVD in 2005 with issue 13 of The Only Fools and Horses DVD Collection magazine series. When this 2005 edition was released it included another Christmas special, "The Frog's Legacy". On the back of the DVD case it states "This Has Been Edited for Contractual Reasons." However, there are no edits on the DVD. Both "The Frog's Legacy" and "A Royal Flush" are both intact, as they were originally broadcast.