Having written some of I.T.V.'s most successful sitcoms - 'Rising Damp', 'Only When I Laugh', 'Duty Free', and 'The Bounder' - Eric Chappell seemed to have run out of ideas by the early Nineties. 'Fiddlers Three' was a retread of his earlier hit 'The Squirrels', which ran from 1974-77. The names of the characters were changed but the scripts were identical.
Peter Davison replaced Ken Jones as the lead. Peter Blake, Tyler Butterworth ( son of Peter ), Charles Kay, and Cindy Marshall-Day stepped into the shoes vacated by Alan David, Ellis Jones, Bernard Hepton, and Karin MacCarthy. Paula Wilcox of 'The Lovers' and 'Man About The House' took up the Patsy Rowlands role as the main character's wife.
Both shows were set in the accounts department of a major business concern. The three fiddlers - 'Ralph', 'Harvey' and 'Osbourne' - were determined to do as little work as possible, in the face of continual interference from their bad-tempered, ambitious boss 'J.J. Morley', but there was some consolation in the shape of his sexy secretary 'Norma Dove'.
It was a good cast and there were many funny lines scattered about. I would have liked this more had I not seen 'The Squirrels' first.
One area where 'Three' scored over its predecessor was that, being a Yorkshire Television production, the canned laughter was rather less obvious than on 'The Squirrels', an A.T.V. series.
Only 14 episodes were made. Nobody knew it at the time but comedy was about to undergo a big shake-up, and shows such as this would become fewer in number as I.T.V. concentrated more on soaps and quizzes.
Granada Plus repeated 'Three' some years back, but it has yet to surface on D.V.D. I have the awful feeling that it will probably come out ahead of 'The Squirrels'.
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