Tuesday 2 February 2021

Only Fools and Horses and Mad Dogs and Englishmen? - New stamps 16 February 2021

From Royal Mail:

Royal Mail is proud to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the much-loved British sitcom Only Fools and Horses with a set of eight stamps featuring some of its most iconic scenes.

Created and written by John Sullivan and first broadcast in 1981, Only Fools and Horses follows the exploits of wheeler-dealer Del Trotter, his younger brother Rodney, their Grandad and later their Uncle Albert. Created by John Sullivan it is fondly remembered for its fine writing, comic one-liners and the warmth and idiosyncrasies of the characters.

Only Fools and Horses has frequently been voted as Britain’s favourite TV comedy series. It ran for 64 episodes from 1981 to 2003 and at its peak was watched by 24.3 million people.

The impact of Only Fools on the life of the nation is demonstrated by many of the show’s catchphrases and words having entered common usage. In 2003, the most popular of these, ‘lovely jubbly’, was listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.

A set of eight stamps, each featuring a memorable scene from Only Fools and Horses. Each stamps features still frames and captioned one-liners taken from some of the most memorable episodes including: Del Boy’s fall through the bar in Yuppy Love, and the Chandelier scene in A Touch of Glass, both frequently voted among the funniest TV moments of all time.

Unfortunately while previous television-themed stamp issues, depicting television programmes have just about worked when they are transferred from the small-screen to the even smaller stamp, these reduce scenes even further, and even enlarged, don't show the scene to its best - both the Chandelier scene, and the 'Play it Cool' fall through the open bar space, rely on movement for the visual impact. Reduced to stamp size they only impact if you have seen and enjoyed the broadcast action. 

Nonetheless, Del Boy's fans will buy them, and we may even see the 1st class stamps on letters.  You could imagine that if the series were to be set in the last five years, Del Boy would be selling books and sheets of deeply discounted 1st class stamps!


Set of 8 stamps, 4 x £1.70 and 4 x 1st class.

The stamps are in vertical se-tenant pairs as shown size 50 x 30 mm. (Click on the image to see them larger than the actual stamps)  They were designed by Interabang and printed by International Security Printers in litho on ordinary gummed paper, perforated 14 x 14.

The Miniature Sheet focuses on the central Trotter Family and the four main Trotter characters over
the series on the individual stamps; Del Boy, Rodney, Grandad and Uncle Albert with a quote for each.
The background features Del and Rodney with the unmistakable Trotters Independent Trading yellow 1968 Reliant Regal three-wheeled van. One which featured in a 2001 epispde sold for £37,000 plus fees at an auction in 2017.  There are 2 x 1st class and 2 x £1.70 stamps.

The stamp are 41mm (w) x 30mm (h), in a sheet with dimensions 192mm (w) x 74mm (h).

BBC and ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES (word marks and logos) are trademarks of the British Broadcasting Corporation and are used under licence. BBC logo © BBC 1996. Only Fools And Horses logo © BBC 1981. Series created and written by John Sullivan. Licensed by BBC Studios.


Retail booklet

The self-adhesive retail booklet contains the two 1st class stamps from the miniature sheet and 4 x 1st class Machin security stamps coded MCIL M21L, which first appeared in the National Parks retail booklet.   On the small supply we have, the booklet backing paper has the same orientation as the previous one. (This is a scan of the actual booklet.)  The colours of the self-adhesive stamps contain a lot less black than do those on the miniature sheet, leaving a rather pale-faced character, more like one who sells everything on eBay rather than in a street market.

Prestige Stamp Book

The PSB reaches a new high of excessive pricing, coming in at nearly £2 (9.7%) over the face value of the stamps it contained.  The first premium-priced PSB was produced 10 years ago, so I suppose it is reasonable for Royal Mail's production costs for these to have doubled in that period.  (Thanks to those who pointed out the editing error which omitted pane 4.)

Actual definitive pane.

The Machin definitives are coded M20L MPIL.  The 2nd class (Norvic 2901P.20) has already appeared in last year's Star Trek PSB, but the 20p and 1st class are new, and have the Norvic numbers 4020Pa.20 and 3702aP.20 respectively.

(We will have limited supplies of these for sale.)

Collectors Sheet


This A4-sized self-adhesive collector sheet contains ten first class Del Boy and Rodney stamps from the Miniature Sheet. Each stamp is presented alongside a label featuring some of the wider Only Fools and Horses cast. The sheet is designed in the style of the Trotters Independent Trading yellow three-wheeled van with Only Fools and Horses branding. Price £9.60.

Other products

Presentation Pack, 2 x First Day Covers, Stamp Cards.

Character packs,  Limited edition Medal Covers, Prestige Stamp Book, press sheet of 14 miniature sheets, Fan Souvenir Folder, framed products.


  1. This set actually looks good on paper, and I wouldn't be surprised they will do the same with Steptoe and Son next year as it marks its 60th Anniversary.

  2. Noted on RM shop there is also a limited edition prestige booklet (alternative red background on front cover), presume the contents are the same. Doesn't seem to be available to order, so have 1981 copies been snapped up or product not released by RM until issue day?

    1. This item now shows on the RM web site as "Sold Out". Have RM *really* sold 1981 copies at £55 each? I see a couple of other high-priced items are also marked as "Sold Out", so it appears that there are plenty of people prepared to part with their money for them. As long as this continues to happen, RM is unlikely to pay much attention to stamp collectors' criticisms.


    2. The philatelic stock in Edinburgh consists of several 'virtual' stocks: a quantity is allocated to dealers, more is allocated to standing order and ad-hoc telephone orders, and another is allocated for web-orders; finally there is stock in reserve to support any of the above when they are exhausted.

      At this stage web-stock has been allocated, but the LE PSB shows:

      Log in and notify me

      Log in to be notified when this item is back in stock

    3. what a surprise, they all now start to appear on ebay - some hitting the heights of £200 buy it now....

    4. Already £122.99..... https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Only-fools-And-Horses-Prestige-Stamp-Booklet-LIMITED-EDITION-of-only-1981/224357626498?hash=item343cc1b282:g:1ssAAOSwxFRgLsYe

    5. I don't see the problem - unless you really wanted one of these £55 books which has less than £21 of stamps in it.

  3. Each to their own and beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that but the words "tacky wallpaper" spring to mind. I appreciate that this probably a generational thing and the others will love it. Not sure that Steptoe and Son would be as well known to the younger generations as OFAH (which seems to be repeated regularly on satellite TV (unlike SAS)). What about an ongoing BBC comedy series? Blackadder, Ab Fab, Porridge, Birds of a Feather, NTNOCN , 'Allo 'Allo, Are You being Served ..... any takers?

  4. I am really very surprised that comments on the "Celebration" set ran to 33, whereas so far this set has only exzcited 3 comments.

    To my mind the PSB hits a new low and a new high at the same time. A high in terms of charges for the "design element" and a low in design. Or content or merit for that matter. It's not going to make me stop collecting, but it WILL make me press the Pause button. Most of the stuff that gets churned out now doesn't reach my post office any more, if it does it can take months or even years. I count 5 PSB last year, so that is probably at least £8 for the "design element" of stuff that I had to buy just to get the Machin pane and I am still struggling to use up the rest on postage.

    So here it is, RM. I'm going on strike and withdrawing my custom. If you play nice then I'll catch up later.

  5. Probably one of the worst TV cash-ins - sorry, tie-ins - which, as noted, rely upon having watched (and remembered) very specific scenes from the series.

    The labels on the Collectors Sheet would have been far better candidates for a stamp issue, if the intention was indeed to celebrate the show... at least, until (and unless) print media is capable of including moving pictures (à la 'Daily Prophet') to enable the respective scenes to be depicted in their full glory.

    And no OHAH commemoration can be considered half-way complete if it ignores the 'Batman and Robin' sequence (nowever much it might have cost to secure the rights).

  6. Why dont they make the Machin 1st and 2nd class stamps the actual values. It would be good for the P.O. and collectors

  7. By issuing only 1st Class stamps, instead of the unnecessary £1.70 stamps in this issue, that could have reduced the cost of the MS to £3.40, and the PSB by £5.10 to a more realistic price for collectors.

  8. I tried to buy some of the £1.70 stamps at my town's main Post Office because they are useful for letters to Europe but they hadn't even got the 1st class stamps never mind the £1.70...also asked for the GB celebration stamps when they were issued and basically was given extremely short shrift for even asking. I don't especially like this issue but surely you expect to have access to loose stamps that are promoted by a national company and in the nation's postal outlets?

    1. Please let us know which town PO this is. It's a very strange situation, unless yours is a small town with a franchised PO only.

    2. Hi Ian...it was at my main town centre PO in St. Helens, Merseyside WA10 1BN. I'm not having much luck with stamp buying at the moment. I visited a local sub PO recently requiring £4.25 worth of stamps for a Large Letter to Europe and the postmistress flatly refused to sell them to me without seeing the actual letter. Then on a different occasion I required 5p extra postage for a regular EU letter and was charged for a 10p stamp since apparently people no longer mail letters and they don't bother stocking low value stamps. I complained to The Post Office about both incidents but have had no reply.

    3. You seem to have hit a very bad patch of service there Dom. Do keep us updated on progress, by email if you wish, or here.

    4. The Post Office response to complaints about philatelic matters at Post Offices is all but non existent. I made 4 complaints last year and not one has been responded too. There is no way to speak to someone direct. You are asked to send an email, you get notification they have received your complaint, but there is no reference number attached to chase the complaint up at a later date when you get no response.

  9. An update the 2nd Queen retail booklet being issued on 29th March.

  10. More 'populist' nonsense from Royal Mail.


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