I was pleasantly surprised when I received a email from Jim Sullivan, the son of the legendary Only Fools writer John Sullivan. Jim, also a writer, was just about to launch the Only Fools musical he co-wrote with comedian Paul Whitehouse and got in touch to request a commissioned artwork that celebrated the show to hang in his office.
Where do you start with creating a commission for one of the most iconic sitcoms of all time. So many characters, scenes, one liners to choose from. I am also a huge fan so the choice was immense.
The brief changed a lot throughout the process. In the end I wanted to go with something that had a sentimental connection to Jim. That connection was the iconic yellow reliant regal with the iconic sign ‘Trotters Independent Co.’ we all know so well.
The original yellow van shown in the photos was given to his father in 1996 by the BBC for his dad’s 50th birthday. John Sullivan sadly passed away 8 years ago and Jim has had the van in his garage ever since. We decided to keep it simple and avoid the many iconic characters and go with a vibrant yellow van in front of the dreary Peckham background, an illustrated scene that you see on the credits at the start of every episode. Jim also requested I hand write a note in the corner ‘This time next year…’ We all know it’s one of Delboy’s classic lines ‘This time next year we’ll be millionaires’ but it also had a sentimental connection. His Dad used it a lot, always writing it on post-it notes for various future projects dotted round his office.
I delivered the artwork to Jim and he loved it. Jim even wheeled out the iconic yellow van and we had a few photos with the artwork.