I think a strong case can be made for Filthy, Rich and Catflap being Ben Elton’s greatest sitcom. Well, his greatest solo credit sitcom at least. And yet it’s surprisingly neglected. Expectations were high for a reunion of the Young Ones alumni, and I think everyone expected something similar, but what we got instead was a love/hate letter to old-school light entertainment.
Rik Mayall plays Richie Rich, a light entertainment ‘personality’ whose fame is not quite as bright as he imagines.
Ade Edmondson is his minder Eddie Catflap, who doesn’t take him very seriously.
In the first episode, a milkman (Arthur Smith) walks in on the pair as Eddie is examining Richie’s bottom for a rash. So Richie smashes a couple of milk bottles over his head and kills him.
When Richie’s manager Filthy Ralph arrives (Nigel Planer) he tells Richie he’s been hit with a paternity suit.
Then, for unlikely reasons, Richie manages to kill another milkman.
Other guests in this episode include Lee Cornes as a dustman
Helen Lederer as a doctor
Barbara Windssor as the mother of the girl who claims Richie is the father of her child.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th January 1987 – 21:25
In the next episode, Richie has a rare booking on a quiz show, Ooer Sounds A Bit Rude. Harry Enfield is the floor manager.
Chris Barrie is the studio director.
Gareth Hale is the host, Ivor Whopper
Richie is very excited to discover the Nolan Sisters’ dressing room.
He ends up being blackmailed by the Nolan Sisters. He’s in “Deep, humiliating trub”
So to earn money, Eddie becomes an artist, and is immediately hailed a genius by two art critics, N’Bend and P’Farty (Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie). (Richie: “Knobend and Poofarty. What a script. Get out.”)
Among the art critics attending Eddie’s opening, I can see David Baddiel and Ben Elton.
And the Nolans get to play the show out.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th January 1987 – 21:25
In the next episode, Richie wants to host a dinner party for all his showbiz chums. There’s a transmission glitch during the titles – it doesn’t look like a recording problem.
Damaris Hayman cameos as a shopkeeper.
Richie gets a job doing comedy at a peep show, where the music is provided by Jools Holland.
The three of them get thrown into jail for shoplifting, but Filthy knows a barrister who can get them off. “Remember when the whole tory cabinet were found in that child brothel discussing declining moral values? Pervy Sir Peter Spurty got them off.”
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st January 1987 – 21:25
In the next episode, Richie has a great idea for a gameshow, and sends it to Jumbo Whiffey at the BBC (played by Mel Smith).
I hope the behaviour of Whiffey is a gross exaggeration, and not representative of how management really was in the 80s.
There’s a cameo from Lynda Bellingham
And Brian Croucher, Tarrant mark Two from Blake’s 7, turns up as a barman.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th January 1987 – 21:25
In the next episode,Richie gets booked to read the newspapers on TV-AM, so he and Eddie have to have an early, sober night. So naturally they go out for Lager Frenzy. Guest starring Anne Diamond.
BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th February 1987 – 21:25
That’s all for Filthy Rich and Catflap on this tape, but the recording continues, with the start of Split Screen, wherein two opposing views are presented. This week it’s ‘Should the Arts be subsidised?’ I don’t have the whole thing here, but the introduction of the speaker against public subsidy could almost be a character in an Alan Bennett sketch.
The recording stops during this programme.