Though Only Fools and Horses was relatively unpopular when it began, it gradually built up a following and became one of the UKs most popular sitcoms, and is now regularly repeated on the BBC.The 1996 Christmas trilogy of "Heroes and Villains", "Modern Men" and "Time On Our Hands" saw the show's peak. The first two attracted 21.3 million viewers, while the third episode (at the time believed to be the final one) got 24.3 million, a record audience for a British sitcom. Despite its mainstream popularity, it has also developed a cult following, and was named one of the top 20 cult television programmes of alltime by TV critic Jeff Evans. Evans stated that:
"shows such as Only Fools and Horses which gets tremendous viewing figures but does inspire conventions of fans who meet in pubs called the Nags Head and wander round dressed as their favourite characters"
The Only Fools and Horses Appreciation Society, established in 1993, has a membership of around 6,000, publishes a quarterly newsletter, Hookie Street, and organises annual conventions of fans, usually attended by cast members. The Society has also organised an Only Fools and Horses museum, containing props from the series, including Dels camel-hair coat and the Trotters Ford Capri.
Only Fools and Horses and consequently John Sullivan is credited with the popularisation in Britain of several words and phrases used by Del Boy regularly, particularly "Plonker", meaning a fool or an idiot, and two expressions of delight or approval: "Cushty" and "Lovely jubbly". The latter was borrowed from an advertising slogan for an obscure 1960s orange juice drink, called Jubbly, which was packaged in a pyramid shaped, waxed paper carton. Sullivan remembered it and thought it was an expression Del Boy would use; in 2003, the phrase was incorporated into the new Oxford English Dictionary. Other British slang words commonly used and popularised in the series include "dipstick", "wally" and "twonk", all mild ways of calling someone an idiot.