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Are You Being Served?

'Who are you bringing to the office party, Mr Humphries? Don't know? I'll just put down ''query'', for now'LIFE IN THE most uncommercial, threadbare-looking department store in the world which somehow managed to stay in business for 13 years on a budget of jokes about tits, homosexuals and “sales drives”. Every single one of the 689,000 episodes had the same plot. Miss Brahms (PAULINE FOWLER) complains about working conditions to boss Captain Peacock (FRANK THORNTON). She alludes to her breasts (“I want to know my future’s in front of me”) and so does he (“Yes, er, you certainly have a couple of points there”). Mrs Slocombe (MOLLIE SUDGEN) arrives in the lift and makes reference to her genitals (“Ooh, it’s raining buckets outside – my pussy was soaked through this morning”). Mr Humphreys (JOHN INMAN) steps out of a nearby closet and makes a reference to his genitals (“Ooh, I had a terrible night – it took me three hours to get off”). Peacock issues instructions to ensure latest “sales drive” works. Everyone grumbles. Either Mr Lucas (TREVOR BANNISTER) or Mr Spooner (MIKE “BLUE RIBAND BLUES” BERRY) leers after passing crumpet. Mr Grainger (ARTHUR BROUGH) moans about his back. Pauline falls over, Mollie gets stuck up a ladder with Frank’s head under her skirt, John – after declaring himself ready and available – dresses up as a gay, and 150-year-old Young Mr Grace comes in and says “you’ve all done very well”. The End. Every bloody week.



  1. Lee James Turnock

    April 30, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    I watched a Christmas episode of this series a couple of years ago, and it was like a live broadcast from the depths of Hell.

  2. Paul Norton

    May 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Peacock to Joanna Lumley: ‘You’ve certainly caused a stir in the trouser department…’ wah, wah, wah, waaaaaaaaaaah!

  3. Pingback: Are You Being Served? (1977) | Old Old Films

  4. THX 1139

    March 17, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    The last ever episode was on today so I watched it. The theme tune was indeed the best bit (that bassline!) and it was interesting the catchphrases like Mr Humphries’ “I’m free!” and (deep voice) “Menswear!” didn’t get the big laugh it used to back in the 70s. Amazing it went on so long, and in this one they had Mike Berry getting his break as a pop star, though sadly not with “Everyone’s a Wally”. Kind of scary to think most of them are dead now, of the stars in the last episode only Mike, Mr Rumbold and Candy Davis are still going.

  5. Adrian

    March 18, 2014 at 11:22 am

    The theme tune was like Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ off the Dark Side Of The Moon album..

  6. Scott McPhee

    January 14, 2016 at 2:56 am

    John Inman’s character would answer the phone;

    (putting on a more masculine sounding voice) “Meanswear.”

    Then, when he found that the caller was his mother,

    “Oh, hello, Mummy, it’s you.” (sounding more effeminate.)

    No doubt this would be frowned upon today for being an unfair stereotype.

  7. THX 1139

    January 17, 2016 at 12:14 am

    Probably wouldn’t be frowned upon because as Russell T. Davies pointed out, Mr Humphries was actually very positive for a camp character, everyone else in Grace Bros was bloody miserable, but he was the only one comfortable in his own skin. Besides, it wouldn’t be much of a 70s sitcom without catchphrases. It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum would be more problematic.

  8. Neville Jackson

    July 17, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    You’re all wrong it were bloody brilliant…

    The film however, is up there with Nuns On The Run and Blame It On The Bellboy…

  9. Glenn Aylett

    August 26, 2019 at 10:56 am

    @ Too right, Neville, AYBS was a well loved product of its time and was still getting 15 million viewers when it was cancelled in 1985. You always had to laugh at Mollie Sudgen in her last classic role after the Liver Birds finished and her double entendres and bizarre hair colouring( green in one episode).

  10. richardpd

    August 26, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Supposedly AYBS was supposed to focus on Miss Brahms & Mr Lucas, but it was found the supporting characters were more interesting.

    Somehow in spite of it running until 1985 it was off my radar until I saw an advert for the videos, with lots of clips of Mr Humphreys saying “I’m Free!”

    Did Nicholas Smith ever look young? When he appeared in Dr Who nearly a decade before he was already looked the wrong side of middle aged.

  11. JakeyD

    October 24, 2021 at 10:18 pm

    Mrs Slocombe’s pussy jokes never get old.

  12. Richardpd

    August 23, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    Supposedly the pilot was shown early when the 1972 Olympic coverage was suspended due to the Black September kidnappings.

    Apparently it was supposed to end after the 8th series, but got a reprieve when the BBC had a gap in their schedules & when David Croft suggested it could be revived the sets were still in storage & could get most of the cast back. Over the years they had problems with the older actors having to retire or dying off.

    From the odd episode I’ve seen, the jokes are a mixture of undemanding humour & innuendo. Croft & Lloyd managed to do a better job with Allo Allo.

    • Droogie

      August 23, 2022 at 11:57 pm

      AYBS is a not-so guilty pleasure for me. The cast know it’s high camp silliness , but they commit at least. John Inman steals each episode and works twice as hard as everyone else. The Trevor Bannister/ Mr Lucas years were the best, but even Mike Berry as Mr Spooner had his moments ( check out the hilarious Pop Singer episode.)

  13. Droogie

    August 23, 2022 at 11:58 pm

    AYBS is a not-so guilty pleasure for me. The cast know it’s high camp silliness , but they commit at least. John Inman steals each episode and works twice as hard as everyone else. The Trevor Bannister/ Mr Lucas years were the best, but even Mike Berry as Mr Spooner had his moments ( check out the hilarious Pop Singer episode.)

  14. Sidney Balmoral James

    August 24, 2022 at 11:18 am

    Agree, John Inman earns his money in this (not that it was much money, I believe the BBC made millions from syndicating this worldwide, but the cast, who have to carry some very weak scripts, did not see much of that – and I read somewhere that US TV stars when they met John Inman were horrified at how little he was paid per show, given it was watched across the US.

  15. Glenn Aylett

    August 24, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    @ Sidney Balmoral James, AYBS was completely studio bound, with the only locations used outside the clothes department being Rumbold’s office, the canteen and the boardroom. Once the sets were constructed, the BBC didn’t have to spend any more on the show beyond staff and actors wages as there was no location filming. Hence the BBC could make huge profits in export sales as AYBS was so cheap to make.

  16. Richardpd

    January 7, 2024 at 3:05 pm

    Supposedly John Inman reprised Mr Humphreys in the Australian version because they couldn’t find an local actor who could play the part convincingly!

    Grace & Favour was the bizarre follow up series in the early 1990s, with them having to work on a farm to regain their company pensions.

    Eastenders found a way for Pauline Fowler to disappear for a few months so Wendy Richard could appear, with Pauline going to New Zealand to look after her rarely seen brother Kenny.

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