May the Force Be with You (Only Fools and Horses)

May the Force Be with You (Only Fools and Horses)
Only Fools and Horses episode
"May The Force Be With You"
Only Fools May the Force.jpg
Series 3
Writer John Sullivan
Director Ray Butt
Producer Ray Butt
Duration 29:28 (DVD/iTunes)
Airdate 8 December, 1983
Audience 10.7 million

"May the Force Be with You" is an episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. It was the fifth episode of series 3, and was first screened on 8 December, 1983. The title of the episode comes from the famous quote from Star Wars: May the Force be with you.



Roy Slater, the corrupt police officer and much-reviled ex-schoolmate of Del Boy, has returned to Peckham. He meets Trigger and Boycie – both horrified by his return – in the Nag's Head, and announces that he has recently been promoted to Detective Inspector. He also enquires after the whereabouts of Del Boy, particularly in connection with a stolen microwave, and begins talking to Rodney, who isn't aware that Slater is a police officer, telling him that he's an old friend of Del's. Trigger and Boycie quickly make excuses and leave, and Trigger unsuccessfully attempts to warn Rodney of Slater's real identity. Rodney invites Slater back to their flat and, at Slater's insistence, decides not to call Del in advance and instead surprise him.

Back at the flat, Del is left dumbfounded when Slater walks in, and quickly makes Rodney aware that Slater is not an old friend. He also reveals that Slater, in his career as a policeman, became an immoral and cold-hearted man; he once arrested his own father for having a defective rear light on his bicycle. Del also tells Rodney that Slater is well-known in both the police and criminal communities for having a vast network of informants, all of whom are threatened to work with Slater in case he reveals their betrayal to the criminal underworld. After spotting a suspicious microwave in the Trotters' flat, Slater arrests Del, Rodney and Grandad.

At the police station, Slater quizzes the trio about where, and from whom, they acquired the microwave. In an improvised yarn, they state that it belonged to an unidentified deaf man in the market who dropped it. Rodney and Grandad are taken to separate rooms to give a description of the "phantom of the market", leaving Del and Slater alone in the interview room. They briefly argue about their time as schoolboy adversaries, with Slater complaining about the refusal to let him into Del's group – particularly when they played pirates (Slater, who wanted to be Bluebeard since Del played as Dan Tempest, and Trigger as Long John Silver, would always have to walk the plank; made worse by the fact they played on a park pond) – and Del countering that Slater's snide nature made him impossible to like. For example, Del once stopped a gang of school bullies from harassing Slater. Shortly after this, Slater found Del behind the bicycle sheds with his sister, and repaid Del's favour by snitching to the headmaster.

Del, Rodney, and Grandad are interviewed simultaneously, but give vastly differing accounts of the man in the market.

When Slater briefly leaves for the canteen, PC Terry Hoskins (whose mother, it emerges, has recently bought a gas fire from Del), advises Del to tell Slater the truth about the microwave, since he'll find out eventually in any case. He also informs Del that Slater is without scruples and will pin an entire filing cabinet of unsolved crimes onto the offender. This, as Hoskins explains, will allow Slater a chance at further promotion (for having apparently "solved" so many crimes in such a short space of time), a CBE for the Commander, and helping to calm the general public. Del realises Slater will probably be very determined to find the culprit.

Slater returns with Del alone in the interview room. He also has with him a case file, which turns out to be Rodney's criminal file for possession of cannabis, and hypothetically considers what would happen if Rodney were to be searched and found with more drugs, implying that some may be planted on him, meaning both he and Del would go to prison, leaving Grandad alone on the estate. Slater then further threatens Del with the notion that without his grandsons looking after him, Grandad would be in severe danger living by himself (implying that Slater could have him assaulted). This leads to one of the most poignant parts of the episode and shows one of the rare serious moments that the show was renowned for delivering extremely well. Del fixes Slater with a stare, and makes his feelings perfectly obvious, saying:

"Now listen to me, Slater. I know a lot of coppers and they're all good blokes. I mean, I don't like them, but they play a fair game. Then there's you!"

Del is cautioned from having "abusive language" added to his list of charges. Despite Slater's best efforts, Del nonetheless still refuses to give the name of the person who stole the microwave on that grounds that becoming an informant is against all he stands for. But as Slater prepares to have the charge sheets typed up, Del offers a deal: he'll give up the name of the thief, provided he, Rodney, and Grandad are all released without charge, with their immunity from prosecution guaranteed in writing; Slater readily agrees, as having someone as well-connected as Del Boy as his informant would give him a great hand in solving crimes.

With all the paperwork drawn up and signed by the Superintendent, Rodney and Grandad are led back into the interview room to see a desperate-looking Del as he prepares to sign it. He tells them of his predicament, and that he has no choice but to tell. He signs it and is asked three times by Slater: "Who nicked the microwave?" After further reassurances of his immunity from prosecution, Del tells him that he himself was the thief. Slater laughs triumphantly, but Del turns the tables by showing him his immunity document with a gleeful smile.

Episode cast

Actor Role
David Jason Del Boy
Nicholas Lyndhurst Rodney
Lennard Pearce Grandad
Roger Lloyd Pack Trigger
Jim Broadbent Roy Slater
John Challis Boycie
Christopher Mitchell PC Terry Hoskins
Michele Winstanley Karen (barmaid)

Detective Inspector Roy Slater is played by Jim Broadbent who was originally slated to play Del Boy. He was nominated an Oscar for his role in the film, Moulin Rouge.

Story arc

  • Slater's wife (who is revealed to be Raquel) is mentioned here, but does not appear until "Dates". Slater and Hoskins both re-appear in "To Hull and Back", and Slater makes a third and final appearance in "The Class of '62".


  • In the opening scene at the Nag's Head, Slater tells Boycie "Give my love to Marlene, everyone else used to." indicating that Boycie, Slater, Del, Denzil, and Trigger all knew Marlene when they were in school, but in "Fatal Extraction", Del and Boycie both seem to remember Marlene as the girl who worked in a betting shop down Lewisham Grove..

External links

Preceded by
"Yesterday Never Comes"
Only Fools and Horses
8 December, 1983
Succeeded by

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