This is a virtually impossible-to-find masterpiece, and is probably one of the two best things Richard Griffiths has done on television, the other being A Kind of Living. The entire cast is top-drawer, and the performances are hilarious. Jack and Hugo (Griffiths and Benjamin Whitrow) are the executive directors of Mowbray and Crofts, wine merchants to the gentry. Plainly they have acceded to these positions by inheritance. They have been insulated at every point from ever having to learn the business and are therefore as the title of the first episode suggests, lilies of the field. Theirs has been a life of privilege and parties, rubbing elbows with wealth and royalty. At the series opens the little black box that sits on the desk in their office and is usually filled with money is now inexplicably empty. They walk down the hall to office of the elderly man who has actually run the company for decades to find he has gone mad, and summarily dies in front of them. Now the lilies are about to come face to face with the world of toil, or at least their vague understanding of it. Thankfully, they have impressive assets in their stock, reputation and knowledge of wine. Money they're all out of. "The bank" brings them a proposition: either they accept a young financial hotshot (Alan) as their pilot through this rock-strewn strait, or give up the firm, sell off, and leave everything behind. They choose the former but never really commit to a life of work; this conflict drives most of the comedy. There's also an unlikely romance developing between Alan and their goddaughter Griselda, the dim-witted daughter of a Duke, which starts off as a parallel plot.
This is an impressive list of raw ingredients from which to create a delicious comedy, and writers Andrew Noriss and Richard Fegen put wonderful lines in the mouths of an extremely talented ensemble cast.
By the way, all of this happens in the first episode, so I don't believe I'm spoiling anything.
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