British Comedy Guide and Network Distributing present a Month of Comedy, looking at a variety of classic programmes now available to own on DVD.
Set against the back drop of an upmarket, generations-old London wine merchants', Mowbray & Crofts, it followed the company's two directors as they were forced to confront bankruptcy and begin doing some work for once.
Griffiths played Jack Mowbray whilst Whitrow was Hugo Walker; a pair of bumbling upper-crust duffers who'd long existed on social connections and lengthy, predictably boozy lunches with the cream of London society, including aristocrats, ambassadors, and various other wealthy organisations and individuals.
Felicity Montagu was a welcome addition to the cast as incompetent secretary and minor aristocrat Griselda, desperate to for a real job despite her parents' stern wishes she live the rightful life of luxury she was born into; and Robin Kermode played business hotshot Alan.
The first episode sets the scene - and tone - for the rest of this quirky late-80s sitcom perfectly: upon the sudden death of the company accountant, Jack and Hugo are horrified and bewildered in equal measure to discover that he had been papering over a huge hole in Mowbray & Crofts' finances, and the company is in fact haemorrhaging money.
Their bank manager, Geoffrey, agrees to a loan to keep the long-established enterprise afloat, but on the condition that one of the bank's own restructuring specialists, Alan, be appointed co-director to overhaul the firm's practices and turn it into a long-term stable concern. Once installed, his attempts to turn the business around and cut back on unnecessary expenditure quickly comes into conflict with Jack and Hugo's extremely easy-going, ageing party-boy lifestyles.
However, despite the fantastic cast and some very funny scripts it seems that audiences did not flock to the show, and it came to an end after just two series. The writers felt that, somehow, the magic of the comedy never quite transferred from the script to the screen.
On his personal website, Norriss said: "Of all the things I ever wrote, this was the one that made me cry at how it just never came off the screen the way it was meant to. It should have done. It starred the amazing Richard Griffiths and was produced by John Howard Davies (who directed Fawlty Towers) - but it just didn't get off the ground.
"Richard Fegen and I wrote two series before they pulled the plug in 1988 [sic] and it still upsets me to think about it. It was about two amiable upper class gents trying to come to terms with the idea of working for a living.
"Ah, well. Win some, lose some, eh..."
Whilst it might not have enjoyed the same popular success of longevity as Fegen and Norriss's later and best-loved work, The Brittas Empire, Ffizz still provides plenty of chuckles, courtesy of those two cheery upper class duffers, and fantastic performances by Griffiths and Montagu in particular.
Published: Monday 3rd September 2018