Tessa Peake-Jones and Gwyneth Strong interview

Even a couple of plonkers can find true love. For Del, that came in the form of Raquel (Tessa Peake-Jones), whilst Cassandra (Gwyneth Strong) proved to be more than a match for Rodders. We spoke to the actresses behind the pair who stirred up passion in Peckham.

Tessa Peake-Jones and Gwyneth Strong

Do you think Only Fools and Horses has had an influence on modern day comedy?

TPJ: Yes, I think it has invariably had an influence on modern day comedy. If you talk to quite a lot of comic writers today or comic actors, they'll say that they grew up watching Only Fools, that's how much of an influence it's had. I think it was very impactful on everyone that watched it, particularly people in the business.

GS: It was a working-class anti-hero who was the star of the show and that probably did have an effect down the line on other programmes.

Have you seen any footage making The Story of Only Fools and Horses that you've not seen before?

TPJ: Yeah, the overseas Del Boy and Rodney was quite amazing. The outtakes, we hadn't really seen those. When you're filming it in the studio there isn't time to show you everything that was filmed.

GS: The outtakes brought back loads of memories for us, memories that you don't even realise are there until you start seeing that material. I kept saying "Who knew!" all the way through watching it.

Tessa Peake-Jones played Raquel on the show

Tessa Peake-Jones played Raquel on the show

Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories you can share with us?

GS: Whenever we were in the studio, either David, Nick or Roger, used to creep up behind me and say, just before I used to go on, "Don't worry, don't be nervous. There's only 25 million people watching!"

TPJ: The only one I have is us being shown a film of a woman giving birth at Hillingdon hospital before we did the birth scene with Damien. None of us at that stage had ever had a child, nobody on the production - apart from John Sullivan, who wrote it. So a very sweet staff nurse suggested I watch it, mainly for me to hear the sounds and effects that would be made while giving birth. But all the lads said, "Oh we'll come and watch it."

We'd just had breakfast, and there was Buster, Nick, David and myself, and the director Tony and all the stage crew, and they played this film which was exceedingly graphic of this very brave woman agreeing to let the cameras film her, with the blood and afterbirth and her agony. Anyway, at the end of it, Buster turned around to all of us and said "I feel really sick now."

Gwyneth Strong played Cassandra on the show

Gwyneth Strong played Cassandra on the show

Do you both have a favourite episode?

TPJ: I personally can't single one out, some of them were so glorious. Even now, if I were to watch some of them, then I'd think "That one! Oh no...that one."

GS: I think mine would probably be "The Unlucky Winner Is..." because I had a lot to do in it, and it was a really hard episode to shoot, because we shot it with very long takes which was challenging. When it came out I just thought it was hysterical and when I watched it, it was almost like I forgot I was in it, which never happens.

What TV shows do you like to watch?

TPJ: I series link 'Unforgotten', 'No Offence' - notice these are all female-lead dramas - I series link anything Scandinavian. '30 Degrees in February' is probably, I think, the best television I have ever watched, both series of it.

GS: At the moment I watch 'This Is Us' on Channel 4. I'm addicted to 'This Is Us'. It's so clever.