Buster Merryfield

Harry "Buster" Merryfield[1] (27 November 1920 – 23 June 1999) was an English actor best known for starring as Uncle Albert in the BBC comedy Only Fools and Horses.

Buster Merryfield
Harry Merryfield

27 November 1920
Battersea, London, England
Died23 June 1999 (aged 78)
Poole, Dorset, England
OccupationActor, bank manager
Years active1966–1997 (retirement)
Known forOnly Fools and Horses (1985–1996)
Spouse(s)Iris M. Mountford (1942–1999) (his death)

Early life

Born in Battersea, London, England, Merryfield was from a working-class background. His father, also called Harry Merryfield, was a packer, and his mother Lily (née Stone), was a part-time waitress. His sister Irene died when she was eight years old. He was given the name "Buster" by his grandfather, as he weighed nine pounds at birth, and it stuck throughout his entire life, not least because he refused to divulge his real name to anyone during his lifetime and it only became open knowledge after his death.

He always prided himself on his fitness, following a strict fitness regime of daily press-ups and swimming sessions. In contrast to Albert's pipe-smoking and rum drinking character, Merryfield was a teetotal non-smoker his entire life.[2] His efforts to stay fit could be traced back to his time as a child boxing star in the 1930s. He was British schoolboy champion in 1936 and Southern Command army champion in 1945. Merryfield was also a keen amateur football player and Millwall fan, regularly attending games at The Den.


Before turning professional as an actor Merryfield was a keen amateur actor and director. His productions of John Osborne's The Entertainer, The World-My Canvas by Ruth Dixon and A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller, for the now defunct amateur theatre group The Characters, won Best Play at the Woking Drama Festival in 1966, 1968 and 1969 respectively.[3] He also won the Best Actor trophy for his roles in The Entertainer and The World-My Canvas.[4]

Merryfield finally became a professional actor at the age of 57, after working for the Westminster Bank (later the National Westminster Bank) as a Senior Area Bank Manager for nearly 40 years, interrupted by his war service.[1] In contrast to his most famous character, Merryfield spent the war in the army, where his fine physique resulted in him being made a PT and jungle warfare instructor. It was during the war that he first discovered his love of acting when he served as an entertainments officer, putting on shows for the other troops. Merryfield was demobilised from the Army in March 1946.

After the war, he married and with his wife expecting a daughter, he opted to return to his job at the bank. At Natwest he rose through the ranks, and by the time of his early retirement, in 1978, he was a bank manager at the Thames Ditton branch in Surrey.[1] When he retired, Merryfield persuaded a repertory company to take him on. He performed at the Connaught theatre in Worthing in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Equus. Small parts on television also came his way. Merryfield appeared in Hannah in 1980, as Professor Challis in The Citadel in 1983 and as a Bishop in Strangers and Brothers in 1984.

Merryfield joined Only Fools and Horses in January 1985, as the former seafaring Albert Gladstone Trotter, known as Uncle Albert, who was Grandad Trotter's globetrotting long-lost younger brother, and who was known for Uncle Albert's catchphrase of "During the war..." The character took over the role of senior citizen member of the Trotter family from Lennard Pearce, who played Grandad, after Pearce died in December 1984. Coincidentally, nine months earlier, in March 1984, Merryfield appeared in two episodes of a Shroud for a Nightingale alongside Lennard Pearce. He did much work for various charities, notably the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. He wrote his autobiography, During the War and Other Encounters, in 1996.

In December 1997, he fell over at the British Comedy Awards while walking to the stage to collect an award for David Jason for his part in Only Fools and Horses. Despite cutting his forehead, he continued on and collected the award. Merryfield appeared in pantomime during Christmas in both 1997 and 1998.


Buster Merryfield died in Poole General Hospital on 23 June 1999, as a result of a brain tumour. He was survived by his wife Iris, whom he married in June 1942, his daughter, Karen and two grandchildren. He was buried in Verwood, Dorset. Iris died on 5 November 2002 and was buried alongside him.

Appeared in


  1. ^ a b c Only Fools and Horses: The Official Inside Story
  2. ^ "Buster Merryfield interview". The Free Library. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  3. ^ Woking Drama Festival – Best Play Archived 18 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Woking Drama Festival – Best Actor Archived 18 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine

External links

As One Door Closes

"As One Door Closes" is an episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. It was the final episode of series 4 and first broadcast on 4 April 1985. In the episode, Del and Rodney hunt for a rare butterfly.

Comic Relief special

The "Comic Relief special" was an edition of the BBC sit-com, Only Fools and Horses, recorded as part of the 1997 Comic Relief appeal. It was first screened on 14 March 1997. It was chronologically set before the 1996 Christmas trilogy. This special was the final appearance of Uncle Albert.

Grandad (Only Fools and Horses)

Edward Kitchener "Ted" Trotter, better known simply as Grandad, was a character in

the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses from 1981 to 1984. He was played by Lennard Pearce in the original series, and was portrayed by Phil Daniels in the prequel, Rock & Chips.The character was grandfather to Del Boy, and Rodney Trotter, and older brother to Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield). Lennard Pearce's death in December 1984 was written into the series with the death of the character.

Hey There

"Hey There" is a show tune from the musical play The Pajama Game, written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. It was published in 1954. It was introduced by John Raitt in the original production.

It was subsequently recorded by a number of artists. The recording by Rosemary Clooney reached #1 on Billboard's chart in 1954. Another version was also recorded about the same time by Sammy Davis Jr., reaching #16 on Billboard's retail chart. Another 1954 version by Johnnie Ray hit Billboard at #27. The song (counting all recorded versions) also reached #1 on the Cash Box chart in 1954.

In the show, Sid sings it to a recording device, telling himself that he's foolish to continue his advances to Babe. He plays the tape back, and after responding to his own comments, sings a duet with himself.

A popular edit of the single is in Only Fools and Horses, in the episode "Tea for Three", when Uncle Albert (played by Buster Merryfield) sings the song (replacing "Hey There" with "Ada", the name of his wife) in the talent contest at their local pub, the Nags Head. He later tells Rodney that he won the talent contest, much to his horror.

Hole in One (Only Fools and Horses)

"Hole in One" is an episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. It was the third episode of series 4, and was first broadcast on 7 March 1985. In the episode, Del decides to sue the brewery after Uncle Albert falls down the Nag's Head cellar.

It's Only Rock and Roll (Only Fools and Horses)

"It's Only Rock and Roll" is an episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. It was the fourth episode of series 4, and was first broadcast on 14 March 1985. In the episode, Rodney joins an aspiring rock band.

Lennard Pearce

Lennard Pearce (9 February 1915 – 15 December 1984) was an English actor who worked mostly in the theatre, but also appeared in British television programmes. He starred in the last years of his life as Grandad in the sitcom Only Fools and Horses, from its beginning in September 1981 until he died in December 1984.

Miami Twice

"Miami Twice" is the two-part tenth Christmas special edition of the British sitcom Only Fools and Horses. The first episode, on-screen subtitle "The American Dream", was first screened on 24 December 1991. The second episode of "Miami Twice" was first screened the following day, 25 December 1991. According to Steve Clark's official book The Only Fools And Horses Story, the second episode is sub-titled "Oh to Be in England". The title of the two-part special is derived from the 1984 American television series Miami Vice. On the VHS and DVD releases, it was re-edited as one episode, and titled Miami Twice: The Movie. The original episodes are available separately on iTunes and Amazon Prime with the original broadcast music, although To Be In England is 10 minutes shorter and edited in certain places, removing sections in the introduction where Del and Rodney discuss how the trip was paid for and that "there will be no women on this trip," as well as two scenes back in London, in the flat with Albert and Raquel, and in the Nag's Head when Del appears on the Six O'Clock News.

David Jason chose the second episode as his favourite episode of Only Fools and Horses in 2015, recalling its background on a special pre-recorded clip that was broadcast before a repeat of the episode on Gold as a forerunner for the Only Fools and Horses Top 20 series.

Only Fools and Horses

Only Fools and Horses is an English sitcom created and written by John Sullivan. Seven series were originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom from 1981 to 1991, with sixteen sporadic Christmas specials aired until the end of the show in 2003. Episodes are regularly repeated on UKTV comedy channel Gold and occasionally repeated on Yesterday and BBC One.

Set in Peckham in south-east London, it stars David Jason as ambitious market trader Derek "Del Boy" Trotter, Nicholas Lyndhurst as his younger brother Rodney Trotter, and Lennard Pearce as their elderly Grandad. After Pearce's death in 1984, his character was replaced by Del and Rodney's Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield) who first appeared in February 1985. Backed by a strong supporting cast, the series follows the Trotters' highs and lows in life, in particular their attempts to get rich.

The show achieved consistently high ratings, and the 1996 episode "Time on Our Hands" (the last episode to feature Uncle Albert) holds the record for the highest UK audience for a sitcom episode, attracting over 24.3 million viewers. Critically and popularly acclaimed, the series received numerous awards, including recognition from BAFTA, the National Television Awards and the Royal Television Society, as well as winning individual accolades for both Sullivan and Jason. It was voted Britain's Best Sitcom in a 2004 BBC poll. The series influenced British culture, contributing several words and phrases to the English language. It spawned an extensive range of merchandise, including books, videos, DVDs, toys, and board games.

A spin-off series, The Green Green Grass, ran for four series in the UK from 2005 to 2009. A prequel, Rock & Chips, ran for three specials in 2010 and 2011. A special Sport Relief episode aired in March 2014, guest starring David Beckham. In July 2018, John Sullivan's son, Jim Sullivan, announced that an Only Fools and Horses musical was nearing completion and launched on 9 February 2019 at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London.

Royal Variety Show (Only Fools and Horses)

"Royal Variety Show" is a mini-episode of the BBC sit-com, Only Fools and Horses. It was performed live at the Royal Variety Performance on 24 November 1986, and first screened on BBC 1 on 29 November 1986.

Strained Relations

"Strained Relations" is an episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. It was the second episode of series 4, and was first screened on 28 February 1985.

Tea for Three

"Tea for Three" is an episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. It was the fourth episode of series 5, and was first broadcast on 21 September 1986. In the episode, Del and Rodney find themselves battling for the affections of Trigger's niece Lisa.

The Citadel (1983 miniseries)

The Citadel is a 1983 BBC television adaptation written by Don Shaw from A. J. Cronin's novel The Citadel, which was originally published in 1937. It was produced by Ken Riddington. The miniseries was directed by Peter Jefferies and Mike Vardy.The BBC dramatisation stars Ben Cross as Dr. Andrew Manson and Clare Higgins as Christine Manson. It was broadcast in the US from November 1983 until January 1984 by PBS television as part of Masterpiece Theatre.

The Miracle of Peckham

"The Miracle of Peckham" is an episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. It was the second episode of series 5, and was first broadcast on 7 September 1986. In the episode, Del witnesses a miracle at his local church, which creates a media frenzy.

The Robin Flies at Dawn

"The Robin Flies at Dawn" is a special edition of the British sitcom Only Fools and Horses, filmed specifically for the British troops serving in the 1990–91 Gulf War. It has never been broadcast commercially.

The episode was filmed at RAF Strike Command in High Wycombe, with all concerned giving up their time for free for the one-day shoot."It was great fun and after we finished filming they laid on a buffet for us" recalled John Sullivan in the book 'Only Fools and Horses - The Official Inside Story.

Three Men, a Woman and a Baby

"Three Men, a Woman and a Baby" is an episode of the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It was the final episode of series 7, and was first broadcast on 3 February 1991. This is the last episode of the last regular series and the last full series starring Buster Merryfield Uncle Albert. Although Christmas specials were broadcast intermittently until 2003. In this episode, the birth of Del and Raquel's baby is imminent. Damien Trotter appears in the show for the first time in the episode's finale.

Uncle Albert

Albert Gladstone Trotter, better known as Uncle Albert, was a fictional character in the BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses. He was introduced during the fourth series as a replacement for the character of Grandad due to the sudden death of Lennard Pearce in 1984. He was portrayed by Buster Merryfield.

Yuppy Love

"Yuppy Love" is an episode of the BBC sitcom, Only Fools and Horses. It originally aired on 8 January 1989 and is the first episode of series six, marking the start of the increase in running time from thirty minutes to fifty minutes per episode.

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