What a shock it was to have learnt sadly this week that the Actor Roger Lloyd-Pack, who played Trigger in Only Fools And Horses, had died aged 69. This was very unexpected and by all accounts what a lovely man Roger was, and as well as being a lifelong socialist.
Never really a committed Only Fools And Horses fan myself by any stretch of the imagination, but I was always aware of its place in television history. A much loved British sitcom created and written by the great writer the late John Sullivan and originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom from 1981 to 1991, with sporadic Christmas specials until 2003. The series had an impact on British culture, contributing to several new words and phrases to the English language.
I remember the series grabbed my attention in the late eighties when it was probably well on its way to becoming the last great sitcom to have won a massive following on the old terrestrial television as it was then, and I totally now understand how it was able to provide much laughter in many working class family homes up and down the country, at a time when Thatcher and the Tories were at the height and indeed gearing up to give workers everywhere a right good old bashing, many must have found escape albeit for a short time (30 minutes per episode) from the worries and the misery of daily life as it was back then. Derek "Del Boy" Trotter his brother Rodney along with their elderly Grandad became heroes of a kind to a generation, and as the series became a hit other characters started to make their mark in the show and win the admiration of fans, no more so that Trigger played by Roger Lloyd-Pack, in fact Trigger will always be remembered and associated with the show as much as the main Characters as Roger always turned in a great performance.
Trigger, apparently so called because he looks like a horse, was the principal supporting character throughout the shows run; only Del Boy and Rodney appeared in more episodes. Lloyd Pack was cast by pure chance; Ray Butt, who hired him to portray Trigger after seeing him in a stage play, had only attended that play to observe potential Del Boy actor Billy Murray.
A daft road sweeper most frequently seen in the Nag's Head, Trigger was initially portrayed as a small-time thief, supplying Del with dubious goods. In later episodes he came to adopt the 'village idiot' role, drawing laughs in each of his scenes through his general stupidity, in particular his unshakable belief that Rodney's real name was actually Dave, endeared him to millions.
Lloyd-Pack was born in 1944 into an acting family in north London, and his father Charles was a regular in Hammer horror films. Roger himself the father of four was also a successful stage actor, appearing regularly at Shakespeare's Globe in central London, but acknowledged that he would always be best known as Trigger.
He (Roger) appeared in dozens of films and TV shows, including Dr Who and The Vicar Of Dibley. His film roles included Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire.
Even the news of his sad passing strangely enough raises an internal smile. Trigger announcing that he had been given an award for saving the council money by maintaining his broom for 20 years. It had had 17 new handles and 14 new brushes. Comedy gold..RIP, Trigger.