14 October 2002 | F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
"The Squirrels" (ignore its irrelevant title) was a sitcom running on Britain's ITV channel from 1974-77. In Britain, where it's illegal for a household to receive television transmissions without paying an annual television license fee, most people hire (rent) their televisions rather than purchasing them outright. This provides part of the premise of "The Squirrels".
Most of the action takes place in the accounts department of International Rentals, a television hire company. Bernard Hepton plays Mr Fletcher, the boss, nicknamed "Fletcher the Lecher" because he fancies himself with the ladies ... especially sexy Susan, played by Patsy Rowlands. (Fletcher is also a tyrant, of course.) Ken Jones plays Rex, Fletcher's nervous dogsbody assistant.
It was a fairly typical office-setting sitcom. The main characters spent half the time doing everything except their jobs (office intrigue, office romances, skiving off work) and the other half of their time frantically trying to cover up for the cock-ups committed in the rare moments when they actually did their jobs.
The cast was excellent, and the 28 half-hour episodes were briskly directed, but the scripts (primarily by Eric Chappell) left much to be desired. Chappell later went on to create "Rising Damp", one of the most popular sitcoms in British TV history ... so "The Squirrels" is still worth a look as an early example of Chappell's work.