TV Tidbit: Are You Being Served?
When I was in college, my housemate introduced me the British sitcoms (or Brit-coms, as they are often referred) that PBS re-ran, usually late at night or on weekends. Of the many we watched, my favorite has always been Are You Being Served? which ran on Britain’s BBC One from 1972-1985. Are You Being Served? centered around the day-to-day goings-on in the ladies’ and gentlemen’s clothing floor of the Grace Brothers Department Store. Though it ran for thirteen years, only 70 episodes of the sitcom was produced. Among the wacky characters at Grace Brothers were Mr. Peacock (Frank Thornton) the stuffy floorwalker who oversees the clothing staff, Mrs. Betty Slocombe (Mollie Sugden) the fussy senior sales assistant whose hair took on a different bright-colored hew each episode and who often referred to her “pussy” (her cat) in ways that were always suggestive. There was the cranky Mr. Grainger (Arthur Brough) who was the master of propriety and usually straight man to his two bumbling assistants, the flaming and ever filthy-minded Mr. Humphries (John Innman) and Mr. Lucas (Trevor Bannister) who is always trying to put the moves on the dimwitted salesclerk Miss Brahms (Wendy Richards). Mr. Rumbold (Nicholas Smith) was the ineffective floor manager who blustered his way through every conflict. The program was saucy and ribald for its time, superseding anything American television was putting out there in terms of sexual content. The show really holds up four decades later. If you are ever looking for a good laugh, great characters, and a wacky time, be sure to check out Are You Being Served?
Fun Fact: In 1977, a film version of Are You Being Served? was made, taking the characters from Grace Brothers on vacation at the fictional resort in Costa Plonka, Spain. Another fun tidbit: an American pilot of Are You Being Served? was produced called Beane’s of Boston, but it never went to series.