1 9 8 7 (UK)
6 x 35 minute episodes
Richie Rich (Rik Mayall) is a failed Oscar Wilde-like actor with no work, Ralph Filthy (Nigel Planer, pictured below) is his seedy and incompetent theatrical agent, and Eddie Catflap (Ade Edmondson) is Richie’s psycho “minder” and resentful companion – a devoted dipsomaniac who – despite his alcohol intake – still seems more together than the other two, if perhaps less coherent.
Richie shares his South London flat with Eddie, and the characters (pictured at right) inhabit a strange world, which, like The Young Ones, sports a weird reality completely at odds with the real one.
This sort of fantastic setting was very distinctive of much of the ‘alternative comedy’ product but Filthy, Rich And Catflap had a particularly dark and vicious edge that imbued it with the sense of a cruel Victorian caricature.
The series only lasted six episodes before it was taken off due to complaints about the gratuitous mindless violence – which was actually very, very funny . . . even the axe through the postman’s head.
During the course of the six episodes, Rich was: blackmailed by the Nolan Sisters after being found in their dressing room; booked very reluctantly as the replacement for Bernie Winters on Ooer Sounds a Bit Rude – a game show bearing more than a passing resemblance to Blankety Blank; and moved to throw a dinner party for Tarby and Brucie to celebrate his decade in show business.
He was also: inclined to kill his own father for financial gain; booked to appear as a stand-up comic in a Soho peep show; and finally rewarded with his own show, after he becomes a tabloid journalist and forces every other entertainer into hiding by writing lies about their private lives.
Critically, Filthy, Rich And Catflap suffered in comparison with The Young Ones, which must have been somewhat galling for the team considering that the earlier show had scarcely been welcomed with open arms by reviewers.
By this period, however, it had come to be recognised as a classic of the new genre, and a yardstick against which to compare subsequent product.
Filthy, Rich And Catflap just didn’t measure up, but from this particular stable of talent, even a perceived failure was more interesting than many middle-of-the-road successes.