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Series / Filthy Rich & Catflap

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Clockwise, from top left: Ralph Filthy, Richie Rich, and Eddie Catflap


Filthy Rich & Catflap is a Brit Com, originally transmitted on BBC2 in early 1987. Historically regarded as the spiritual successor to The Young Ones, with much overlap between the two series in terms of main cast, writing staff, and humour.

Rik Mayall plays Richie Rich, a talentless, unheard-of Large Ham actor on a manic crusade for fame and glory. To make his dream come true, Richie relies on his decrepit cockney agent Ralph Filthy (Nigel Planer), and his violent, alcoholic minder Edward Catflap (Adrian Edmondson).

Like its spiritual predecessor, the show has absolutely No Fourth Wall. Compared to The Young Ones, however, the plots are tighter, and the satire is sharper. At its core, the series is a vicious deconstruction of both postwar light entertainment itself, and its relevance in Thatcher's Britain. Accordingly, it featured several cameos from the UK's alternative comedy scene, like Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Mel Smith.


It ended after six episodes when Mayall complained to co-writer Ben Elton about his writing privileges. Elton didn't listen and Mayall left.

This show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: At least four dead milkmen in the first episode. Five, if you include the one in the hospital.
  • Alliterative Name: Richie Rich.
  • Attention Whore: Richie.
  • Ass Shove: Insinuated:
    Eddie: Richie, it's your choice. I can either stuff the meat into the oven, you into the oven, or the oven into you. Which is it to be?
  • Bedmate Reveal: In the first scene of the series, Richie wakes up in the morning, assumes he is alone and addresses a lengthy monologue to the camera. Then a huge fart is heard and his bedmate is revealed to be his drunken minder, Eddie.
  • Berserk Button: Richie's incredible success at the end of the series drives Eddie to smashing up the set.
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  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: The show delights in hanging lampshades.
  • British Brevity: Only six episodes were made, thanks to an argument between Rik Mayall and writer Ben Elton.
  • Careful with That Axe: Subverted when Eddie hits Richie in the balls with one.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Filthy's "Yes, I can hold," every time he makes a telephone call.
    • Richie: "God bless Gran, and don't forget the kids!" (or some variation thereof)
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: Though the series has been issued on DVD twice––first in 2004 and then as a 25th Anniversary Edition in 2012––Episode Six was the victim of this trope on both occasions. The original 2004 DVD cuts out Eddie's rendition of "Roxanne," along with Midge Ure singing a line from "Vienna." Both DVD releases heavily butcher a scene featuring Richie and Eddie acting out bits of the musical Oliver!, cutting out the lyrics of songs "Consider Yourself," "Where is Love?" and "You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two."
  • Comically Missing the Point: Countless examples. A fairly typical one from Episode Four:
    Jumbo Whiffy: (regarding his secretary) You've met Jill, I take it? I don't know what I'd do without her. Terrific pair of, uh... (gestures against his chest) ...eyes, eh? (boisterous laugh)
    Richie: Yeah, and fantastic knockers as well, hasn't she?
  • Daddy DNA Test: Except the DNA test is part of an elaborate plan to share Richie's money between Eddie, Eddie's cousin, and Filthy. And the blood sample is pure lager.
  • Disposing of a Body: The dead milkmen in Episode One.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: This exchange:
    Eddie: Let's put the bod in the cub before it begins to whiff.
    Richie: Uh-uh-uh — if that were our criteria for putting things in "the cub," we would have put you in one ages ago, wouldn't we? [Eddie stares at him] Because you're so whiffy.
    Eddie: Yeah, I got it — I just didn't think it was funny. That's all.
  • Double Entendre:
    • "Oo-er!"
    • Richie appears in a game show called Ooer Sounds a Bit Rude.
  • Erotic Asphyxiation: As Ralph stands on the gallows in Episode Six awaiting execution by hanging, he is bittersweet at the prospect of his first erection "in fifteen years" without being alive to enjoy it.
  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: Parodied.
    "Extra! Extra! I'm an extra!"
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Played straight for most of the series. And then subverted! The series ends on a cheery "Made it!" from Richie.
  • Fan Boy: Richie is rather obsessed with real-life 1960's-era scouser comedian Jimmy 'Tarby' Tarbuck. Despite his repeated insistence that Tarby is a close friend, nobody in-universe appears to take this seriously. Richie has a framed poster of Tarby hanging in his living room, and babbles incessantly about him throughout the series.
  • Gay Bar Reveal:
    Richie: Bloody fairies! That's what you are, isn't it?
    Men at bar: Yeah.
    (Richie and Eddie are thrown out)
  • Hanging Judge: A literal example passes judgement over the three at the beginning of the sixth episode.
  • Happy Ending: Richie finally seizes fame by becoming the only TV presenter left standing, leading to his round-the-clock hosting of every show on every channel. His flagship programme, "Richtime," opens with a saccharine musical number about how he's better than everyone else because he's "in showbiz." Catflap expresses his disgust to Richie, and proceeds to destroy the living room set. Filthy takes off for Rio.
  • It's All About Me: Richie.
  • Jerkass: The three title characters.
  • Large Ham:
    • Eddie: If you don't shut up I'LL RAM YOUR HEAD INTO THE MICROWAVE!
  • The Mad Hatter: Richie. Over the course of the series, it becomes increasingly clear that he isn't simply another forgotten showbiz has-been, nurturing a fevered ego; Richie is actually a delusional lunatic who genuinely believes he's in the old guard of British light entertainment. Despite inordinate name-dropping and endless boasts about his "showbiz chums," not a single one ever makes an appearance in the series, and neither does genuine evidence of Richie having any celebrity friends.
    • Despite all this, Richie still qualifies as The Mad Hatter because the show has No Fourth Wall, is overflowing with meta-humour, and lampshades itself at every turn. Richie is quite aware of his status as a Small Name, Big Ego, and still carries on living how (he imagines) a star celebrity would, as best he can.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang: Played for Laughs (and a healthy dose of Breaking the Fourth Wall) with Ralph Filthy.
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: The entire paternity plot was a scam by Eddie, his relatives, and Filthy.
  • Mathematician's Answer: From the opening scene:
    Richie: What are you doing in my bed?
    Eddie: Well, I was sleeping. But now I'm talking to a git.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Among the contestants on Ooer Sounds a Bit Rude are parodies of Are You Being Served? stars John Inman (a Camp Gay actor) and Mollie Sugden (an old woman talking about her pussy). There's also a ventriloquist with a bird puppet who's a parody of Rod Hull and Emu.
    • Dingo Wucker, Australian-born publisher of the Daily Bastard in Episode Six, is a thinly-veiled swipe at Rupert Murdoch.
  • Oh My Gods!: "What in the name of Satan's portion?!"
  • Only Sane Man: Richie and Eddie, for exactly one moment in the final episode. Dingo Wucker's story pitches are so sleazy and unhinged that during their first meeting with him, he briefly shocks the two into gently rebuffing his absurd ideas when he asks for their input. Richie and Eddie quickly come to their senses and follow up on their assignment: framing Midge Ure for sleeping with Margaret Thatcher.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: According to Filthy in Episode Four, Eddie never does his job as Richie's minder, even joining in when Richie gets beaten up.
  • Psycho for Hire: Enormous Derek.
  • Repetitive Name: Richie Rich.
  • Running Gag: The doorbell sounds like a fart.
  • Sadist Show: Completes the Mayall-Edmondson trinity, alongside Bottom and The Young Ones.
  • Self-Deprecation: Eddie often criticises the series, much to Richie's dismay.
    Richie: Filthy, if this is some kind of joke...
    Eddie: Then it'll be the first one on the show this week! (thumbs-up the camera)
  • Show Within a Show: Richie goes on a fictionalised version of Blankety Blank called Ooer Sounds a Bit Rude hosted by Ivor Whopper.
  • The Starscream: Eddie fits this trope at times. Particularly in Episode Two.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Richie fits this to a T.
  • Springtime for Hitler: In Episode Five, Richie lands a chance to read the papers on TV-am. Filthy, wanting to do his own presentation, tries to make sure they're late by urging them to be on time (see You Have Failed Me below), and they actually arrive on time for once, if only by ten minutes, much to Filthy's chagrin.
    Filthy: I lose all my faith in human nature, I really do!
    • Quickly subverted during Episode Five's To Be Continued ending. Once Richie and Eddie show up at the studio completely drunk and incoherent, and decide to moon the TV-am cameras on-air, the situation turns into an Epic Fail for all three.
  • Strawman Political: Richie. Conservatism is second only to British light entertainment as Filthy, Rich & Catflap's primary target of vicious satire.
    Richie: (sincerely) Mister Wucker, we hate unions and you saved England by destroying them. How clever you were to move your premises to Wapping, so that under Thatcher's new union laws, you could sack everyone after many years' service. And when they gathered outside your gates to protest at their impending starvation, how lucky we taxpayers were to be able to pay for thousands of police to keep them away from your huge stash of cash, which they'd earned for you in the first place. (smiles)
    Eddie: Get on with it, Richie. The bar closes in an hour.
  • Take That!:
    • Filthy: And then give that comic the world's best gag —
      Eddie: Which would have to be Thatcher's '79 election promise to cut unemployment!
    • There are a number of digs at conservatism (par for the course; see also The Young Ones). This is lampshaded at the end of the first episode.
      "Look, I've had just about enough left-wing soapbox rhetoric for one week!"
    • The last episode has more than a few digs at Rupert Murdoch and tabloid journalists.
    • An in-show example occurs when they systematically smear everyone in British showbiz.
    • "This is England, Eddie. England! Not Birmingham."
  • Take That Me: In a meta-sense; after Eddie and Richie indulge in an extended satirical dig at the police force, Richie undercuts the proceedings by pointing out, "Next time you get beaten up, try calling an alternative comedian!"
  • Trouser Space: Eddie can fit 3 whole chickens in his trousers.
    Richie: Good lord, Eddie––how do you get so much meat in your trousers?
    Eddie: (chuckles) That's what all the girls say!
  • Underage Casting: Richie Rich, and especially Ralph Filthy, are implied to be far older than the actors portraying them. Rik Mayall was in his late twenties when the series was filmed, but the character of Richie Rich is clearly written as a middle-aged, bottom-of-the-barrel light entertainer who is long past his prime. Nigel Planer was in his thirties during production, yet according to Ralph Filthy's various, bizarre anecdotes he tells over the course of the series, the character has been involved in showbiz since the early 1950's at the very least. Also see Vague Age, Improbable Age, and Hollywood Old.
    • This trope is at its most glaring during a scene in Episode One, when Richie is forced to elucidate his supposed fame to Eddie's aunt: "Richie Rich! TVS. Links. 1972." Mayall simply looks far too young for the joke to work.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    Richie: I've sustained some quite considerable Belisha beacons in my time, thank you!
    • Jumbo Whiffy, in Episode Four, rattles off a continual stream of these.
  • Video Inside, Film Outside.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: When Eddie asks Filthy to explain something.
    Filthy: If I told you that I'd ruin the plot, wouldn't I, Eddie?
    Eddie: Well, there's not a lot to ruin, is there, really. I'd hardly call this meaningless stream of bot and knob gags a plot, would you?


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