Having discovered that Only Fools and Horses was big in Belgrade (not to mention the rest of Serbia) John Challis was persuaded to take a trip out there – partly to meet some of the city’s OF&H fans in order to try and find out why they’ve taken this British sitcom classic to their hearts but also to soak up some of the city’s sights and sounds.
Running for eighty minutes, Boycie in Belgrade is an engaging documentary. Challis is a genial host, linking the different sections of Belgrade footage from the comfort of his armchair in England. From a reception with the British Ambassador via a visit to the Royal Palace, Challis takes in plenty of high culture (he also samples some local footballing history with a trip to Red Star Belgrade and seems more than happy to test the local plum brandy).
Later, there’s an excursion to a motor museum where he comes face to face with a very familiar yellow three-wheeled van ….
As various locals are interviewed, it becomes clear that they identify very strongly with the characters in OF&H – the series’ tone (forever optimistic even though the prospects look bleak) is something they believe chimes well with the Serbian spirit. This is possibly the most interesting part of the doco as whilst the programme (beloved as it is) is just another sitcom in the UK, it’s fascinating to observe how it resonates much deeper overseas with certain people.
Watching via DVD, there’s something slightly subpar about the picture quality (the image displays jagged edges and there’s a certain jerkiness on occasions when the camera pans quickly). Boycie in Belgrade can also be accessed via various streaming platforms (iTunes, Sky Store, Amazon Prime) so maybe this issue has been rectified there.
For those who enjoy travelogues especially, Boycie in Belgrade is worth a look, although a rental may be the way to go as I’m not sure that it’s one that has a great deal of rewatch value. More info on the different ways it can be accessed is available via this website.