epiphany_maria (epiphany_maria) wrote,

Retro Review: Girls on Top (1985 – 1986)

This very popular ITV sitcom is a classic. Amanda (Dawn French) learnt the hard way that a Chelsea post code does not come cheap so she ended up flat sharing with ultra rich ugly American Shelley (Ruby Wax), idiotic Jennifer (Jennifer Saunders) and mooching con artist (Tracey Ullman). The dynamics of the flat are this: Shelley pays 95% of the rent which is £200 a week. Jennifer is the dogsbody/indentured servant who is only allowed to live there as her flatmates won’t do any cleaning and Candice was the previous tenant who was evicted but will not leave. Their landlady is the mad Lady Carlton (Joan Greenwood).

Any similarities to ‘The Young Ones’ are entirely coincidental I am sure. The cheesy opening credits are a thing of beauty: “We’re the girls on top in the Kensington sky.”

Series 1, Eps 5, 6 & 7

Ident: Candy Time

The shrill annoying Candice annoys her flatmates. She refuses to do any housework, got Jennifer kidnapped, brought an adult film crew home to do some filming, steals Shelley’s belongings, lies, pays no rent and claims to have a mystery illness so she can mooch money off her flatmates

Shelley suggests Candice is a prostitute so she, Amanda and Jennifer follow her one day and discover Candice has a job in a department store demonstrating exercise equipment. Shelley decides to evict Candice once and for all. Candice claims to be dating Prince Andrew. Shelley allows her to stay as they admit Candice is his type.

Candice’s attempt to keep her latest lie going takes her to a new low. This was a lesser ep.

Best Line:
How many teeth can a man have in his mouth without eating his own face?”

There’s to be a street festival and Amanda wasn’t asked to help take part. So she goes out on the street to find people to take part in the festival so she can take all the credit. Amanda’s attempts to be ‘hip’ and bond with the ‘band’ she brings home are cringe making. The street festival is terrible. In the 1980’s fashion highlight of the ep Candice wears skin tight silver leggings and gold nail polish. This was a lesser ep.

Best Line:
“Can I suggest an overdose?”

Shelley unwisely pays Candice to wax her legs and bikini line. Candice uses floor wax on Shelley’s bikini line causing her lady parts to go on fire. Jennifer takes Lady Carlton’s stuffed dog Josephine for a walk and the dog is stolen.

Lady Carlton is very upset and fearing they’ll be evicted they serve Lady C a pot cake and build a replica Josephine from a fur coat of Shelley’s, a teddy bear of Jennifer’s and some Playboy Bunny ears of Candice’s and dangle it out their living room window on a rope. The stoned Lady C accepts the sighting as proof that Josephine has gone to heaven and so all threat of eviction is halted.

But then the disappearance of Josephine is solved. Guess who stole the stuffed dog to win a Leather and Fur competition at nightclub? Just guess. Josephine showed up in series 2 without any explanation. This was okay.

Best Line:
I remember a very vital knot you tied on the big raft at Brownie Camp. A lot of those Brownies never jumped over a mushroom again.”

Series 2 Eps 1, 2, 4 & 6

Mr Fluffy Knows Too Much

Amanda, Jennifer and Shelley discuss their mutual hatred of Candice and reveal the mean pranks they play on her. Shelley replaced Candice’s pills with bubble bath pellets, Amanda swapped Candice’s deodorant for ‘Sniff Off: Keeps toms off the street while your kitty’s in heat’ and Jennifer serves her rice crispies coloured brown with felt tip pen so Candice thinks they’re cocoa pops.

Then Dr Banks (Harry Enfield) informs them that Candice has died. Convinced one of their pranks killed her, the trio blame each other, then break into a hospital to steal the post mortem report and then decide to scapegoat Jennifer and brand her: “Mrs Crippen.”

Then Dr Banks shows up again and it is revealed that Candice has conned her flatmates one last time. This was hilarious even if the flat layout makes no sense; most of the action takes place in Shelly or Amanda’s bedrooms or the living room. But where are the rarely seen kitchen and bathroom located?

Best Lines:
She’s been wearing them, not washing them, putting them back in your drawer and you put them on, still warm.”

“Get me a bucket, I’m going to upchuck city and I’m not coming back.”

“Dead? As in not alive?”

“She suffered? We had to live with her.”

“At least I wasn’t spraying her pits with poisonous cat chemicals.”

“A post mortem Jennifer is when they open up your body to find out if there’s any BUBBLE BATH in your blood stream.”

Big Snogs
The new opening credits with the altered theme tune debuts in this ep. Amanda’s feminist group has a workshop on ‘The Fuse and where to put it’ and Tom (Hugh Laurie) is the lecturer. Amanda fancies Tom and goes all Stepford Wife with poufy hair to win him over.

Shelley. Jennifer and Lady Carlton are stunned when Amanda declares she is pregnant. But it swiftly becomes clear that Amanda is deluded. This was good, tasteless jokes and all.

Bring Me More Flamingos
Shelley redecorates the flat in true 80’s tackiness as she is planning a showbiz party to boost her career as her efforts to get into RADA, get a part in a safety match commercial and get a part in ‘Cats’ have all failed.

After Amanda says Shelley smells like an old whore’s handbag, she and Jennifer are thrown out on the street. Amanda learns her feminist group ‘friends’ hate her and Shelley’s party is massive flop. So Shelley lets Amanda back in. Jennifer is allowed back in too as Shelley got dog mess on her shoe that Jennifer has to clean off. This was a lesser ep.

Lower The Donkey
Lady Carlton wins a new kitchen and casually mentions she stores gallons of petrol in the back garden. Amanda fears nuclear war and builds a fallout shelter in the living room. You can see what is coming can’t you? Lady Carlton blows up her microwave and Amanda and Shelley hide out in the shelter fearing that nuclear war has broken out.

Shelley trips on valium and Jennifer is left outside the shelter to fend for herself. Swiftly Jennifer learns that Lady Carlton just was inept with her new kitchen and gets revenge on her flatmates by leaving them in the shelter thinking London is a wasteland while she spends all Shelley’s money.

Naturally Amanda and Shelley go stir crazy and break out and then Lady Carlton tosses a lit match into her back garden full of petrol cans and the final shot of the show is a mushroom cloud over London. This was good and thankfully the show did end here until ‘AbFab’ which will not stop going and going and going.

Best Lines:
“Baby peacocks had their glands tweezed from their necks to make these smells.”

“Loot Harrods!”

“Every year we had to do a survival course. We had to take off our mascara and walk through Beverly Hills on foot.”
Tags: girls on top

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