British Programs

Are You Being Served?

Camp Mr. Humphries, Mrs.Slocombe's pussy and the ridiculous goings-on at Grace Bros. have kept audiences laughing since 1973. This tongue-in-cheek farce, by top writers Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, is one of BBC's best-selling classic comedies, especially in America, where its success is phenomenal.

A large, old-fashioned department store in London, Grace Bros. is still run on strictly hierarchical lines. Each member of staff knows their place -- in theory. In practice, they are all engaged in their own private wars with management and with each other:

On the top floor is young Mr. Grace (Harold Bennett), a frail octogenarian with a dollybird on each arm. Take the lift down and you'll find Mr. Rumbold (Nicholas Smith), manager of the clothing department. In reality he leaves the day-to-day running of his floor to his snooty shop-walker, Captain Peacock (Frank Thornton). Peacock's ambition is a seat in the executive restaurant, but meantime he has to mediate between Menswear and Ladies' Fashions.

In Gentlemen's Ready-To-Wear, Senior Salesman, Mr. Grainger (Arthur Brough), is an obstinate old man prone to falling asleep. He is later replaced by Mr.Tebbs (James Hayter), then by Mr. Goldberg (Alfie Bass), who served in the army with Captain Peacock. Under him is Mr. Humphries, played by John Inman, a very popular character with his camp mannerisms and jaunty readiness to measure an inside leg. Bottom of the pecking order comes randy Mr. Lucas (Trevor Bannister), who is later replaced by Mr. Spooner (Mike Berry).

Ladies' Separates and Underwear is staffed by Senior Saleslady, Mrs Slocombe (Mollie Sugden), a rapacious widow with an astonishing range of fluorescent hair colors and malapropisms. Her main topic of conversation is her pussy. Junior Saleslady, Miss Brahms (Wendy Richard), is a sharp-tongued, buxom Cockney.

And finally, down in the basement, (but usually up in the department), is the caretaker, Mr. Harman (Arthur English), who delights in making a nuisance of himself with his trade unionism and ridiculous display models.

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