Are You Being Served?

Episode Summaries and Cast List!

The Cast

Here are brief summaries of each episode, and a list of all the major players in the series!

*Episode Summaries
*The Movie
*Cast List
Contributors: Jeffrey Rice, Tom Flesher
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© The Fans of British Television

Last Modified 02/09/00

"Are You Being Served?" Episode List

Episodes are grouped by copyright year.

---------- 1972 ----------

[untitled pilot]
The Ladies' Intimate Apparel must share a floor with the Gentlemen's Department. This causes great concern in the Gentlemen's Department, as Mrs. Slocombe will be taking over an area formerly used for men's display. In fact, Mr. Grainger is forced to take down his trousers and let Mrs. Slocombe put her knickers there instead. Mr. Lucas puts his hands all over her stockings, and we are treated at the end to Mrs. Slocombe's bust, lit up, in the middle of the floor. [Floor Display]
[This is shown in a black and white copy, but the credits refer to it as "A BBC Colour Production"]

---------- 1973 ----------

Dear Sexy Knickers...
Mr. Lucas continues his attempts to win the heart (or at least the body) of Miss Brahms, this time through a love letter addressed to "Sexy Knickers". His attempt at delivery creates even greater problems, however, as Mrs. Slocombe receives the note and assumes it is from Captain Peacock. Once she finds that he has sent no such note, he questions the Gentlemen's Department and discovers, to no one's surprise, that the note is from Mr. Lucas. Mrs. Slocombe, far from being upset, is pleased to have an admirer in Mr. Lucas and promises to wait for him after the store closes. Whether or not he will go is anyone's guess...
Our Figures are Slipping
The staff are concerned about the decrease in sales. They meet to try to think up some ideas, without much luck.
Camping In
The staff must spend the night in Grace Brothers due to a transport strike, camping out in tents on the sales floor. But of course, things couldn't be that simple. Mrs. Slocombe refuses to share her tent with Miss Brahms, who then won't leave Captain Peacock's. Mr. Lucas has great trouble getting his to stay up (which is unusual for him), and Mr. Rumbold realizes he must also spend the night on the floor. He seems less than pleased when Captain Peacock tells him that he wants to sleep with him, but they manage to sort things out. Finally, the staff gathers around a makeshift "fire", singing and watching Mr. Grainger's impressions.
His and Hers
A perfume retailer (AbFab's Joanna Lumley) causes agitation among the staff by giving away free ties and knickers with each sale. The sales staff feel she will reduce their sales, but Captain Peacock's agitation is of an entirely different sort -- he immediately attempts to chat her up. After she spurns him and is driven off by the staff, they are informed by Mr. Rumbold that she works for Grace Brothers. To save their own jobs, they take over her sales. [Floor Display]
Diamonds are a Man's best friend
A wealthy client loses a valuable diamond in the store, and we learn about the integrity, or lack thereof, of the staff. A reward is offered for the missing diamond, but at the same time a shipment of rhinestones is dropped in the store. The staff each finds a rhinestone which they think is the missing diamond, and then try get the reward for themselves by hiding it from the others. Also, Mr. Humphries shows his talent for massaging Mr. Lucas' lumbago.

---------- 1974 ----------

The Clock
Mr. Grainger fears he will be forcibly retired. At his going-away party, Mr. Grace misunderstands and accepts the clock, which is Mr. Grainger's retirement present from the store, and Mr. Grainger continues on in his old position. [Floor Display]
Cold Comfort
The staff try to cope with a shortage of heat. Mr. Lucas creates a bewildering array of heating devices, ranging from two hairdryers to aim up one's pants to a new sales line -- "Novelty Foot warmers", which are good for the economy as they use less oil! These devices are, of course, caught by the eagle-like eyes of Captain Peacock who reports them to Mr. Rumbold. As the staff are being questioned in Mr. Rumbold's office, Mr. Rumbold's desk catches on fire due to a heater that he has hidden inside of it.
The Think Tank
The staff put on a fashion show to showcase the features of the store. Since they cannot afford models, the staff models the garments themselves.
Big Brother
Surveillance cameras are installed at Grace Brothers. Mr. Rumbold begins to carefully watch their every move, and finds out some very interesting information about the staff. He counts Mrs. Slocombe's visits to the ladies' room, observes Miss Brahms adjusting her "stock", and catches Mr. Lucas smoking. Mr. Lucas explains that he was smoking to steady his nerves -- his mother is gone for the night, and Miss Brahms has said she will sleep in the guest room to keep him company. (What she doesn't know is that he sleeps there too.) In the end, the staff is outraged by this invasion of their privacy, so Mr. Humphries and Mr. Lucas trick him into removing the equipment for his health.
Hoorah for the Holidays
The staff try to choose a group holiday package, as the store is being closed for renovations. They are shown a selection of slides from a short list of the worst hotels to be found. Leisure activities include shopping for souvenir wrought-ironware to toying with one's couscous. This is hardly what the staff had in mind, and they refuse the offer. Mr. Grace offers them money instead, which they accept, before realizes that the vacation time will now by off-season. Still, they can all go play bingo at Mr. Grainger's traditional site. [Floor Display]

---------- 1975 ----------

The Hand of Fate
Mr. Humphries displays his talent for telling fortunes.
Coffee Morning
The staff protest the monitoring of their breaks and trips to the restroom, in the form of a signing in and out book. Mrs. Slocombe objects to having to stick her nose in a book every time she wants to powder it, and Miss Brahms worries what will happen if her pen is out of ink and she urgently needs the restroom. Captain Peacock's suggestion that one get someone else to do it for her isn't greeted with much enthusiasm, and they decide to protest this by refusing to sign, but Mr. Grainger is singled out by Captain Peacock and made an example of. A union meeting is convened by Mr. Mash, and Mr. Grace finally arranges for the coffee to be brought to the staff to avoid them losing their break time in transit to the canteen.
Up Captain Peacock
Captain Peacock, as a reward for his many years of service, gains privileges to the Executive Washroom and Dining Room, to the great consternation of Mr. Grainger. In the Executive Dining Room he is treated to "Le Shepherd's Pie" and an "amusing" little wine, while Mr. Grainger fumes in the staff canteen. A protest by Mr. Grainger results in the demolition of the Dining Room and Executive Washroom, as the room allocated to the staff is too small and must be enlarged. [Floor Display]
Cold Store
Seasonal illnesses have got the staff down, and sometimes more than that even, as Mr. Grainger has got a bad case of the "gastrics." Mrs. Slocombe becomes quite ill, and Miss Brahms refuses to work near her, as she has had flu shots and must avoid exposure. At the same time, Mr. Lucas is trying to feign illness to get home to his girl. No thanks to Mr. Mash's suggestion of an onion and soap, he is transferred to the Ladies', and Miss Brahms comes to work with Mr. Humphries to avoid getting sick. He, of course, has no feelings whatsoever on having a girl behind the men's counter. Mr. Lucas pretends to sprain his ankle, in an act of supreme frustration, but is sent to the hospital by Mr. Grace, spoiling his plans for the day.
Wedding Bells
Mrs. Slocombe is greatly disturbed to learn that she has no say in the garments she sells -- namely, knickers with slogans such as "In Case of Emergency, Pull Down". She protests, but is over-ruled until Mr. Grace leads the staff to believe that he is going to ask her to marry him. It turns out that he is merely asking her advice on a ring for someone else, but she tells the members of the floor that she turned him down, after gaining some promises from the rest of the department.
German Week
The staff try to promote the sale of German goods, by dressing up in German fashion and performing a small dance. Mrs. Slocombe does her duty in sampling the German wine, and Captain Peacock feels that his costume isn't giving him the proper air of authority. In fact, he feels he is getting entirely too much air and very little authority! Mrs. Slocombe gets drunk, and ends up fighting Captain Peacock during their dance. Notice Joanna Lumley (AbFab's Patsy) as a customer.
Shoulder to Shoulder
The ladies' department temporarily move into the gentlemen's while their department is being remodeled. Tensions run high, but no one is more pleased than Mrs. Slocombe when, at the end, the men learn that they now must move into the ladies' while their side is redone and she gets her chance to pay them back.
New Look
The staff try a Twenties sales theme. [Floor Display]
Christmas Crackers
Holiday events at Grace Brothers, and the staff dress up to try and boost sales. Mrs. Slocombe dresses as Robin Hood, which explains the funny quiver she has in back. The department is remodeled, and they enjoy their holiday dinner in the canteen. This is Doremy Vernon's first appearance. [Floor Display]

---------- 1976 ----------

No Sale
Mr. Rumbold tries a new experiment, and opens the store earlier in the morning. Sales are good, but the staff is not pleased at having to come in so early. So, they try not to sell anything to avoid longer hours, through a variety of techniques. Suddenly, Arab customers are told the umbrellas are Jewish, and Mr. Grainger tells a customer he has piggy eyes, a fat face, and a pimple on his nose. Needless to say, sales drop off and the plan is scrapped.
Top Hat and Tails
The staff forms a team to compete for the Grace Brothers ballroom dancing competition, led ably by Mr. Humphries.
Forward Mr. Grainger
Mr. Grainger temporarily takes over Mr. Rumbold's position, to Captain Peacock's envy. The staff are no less amazed -- they were sure that Captain Peacock would get anything going in that office, especially the new secretary. He turns out to be a strict and unforgiving manager, but when Mr. Rumbold returns early, the staff take out their anger at his actions on him. Mr. Rumbold leaves again, returning Mr. Grainger to power, but he has learned his lesson.
Fire Practice
Sales to an Arabian sheik are more difficult than expected, when they are unable to touch his wife to take the measurements. Women cannot touch women, as they say. Men can touch women, of course, but then they kill them -- strangely enough, they allow Mr. Humphries to take the measurements. ("And I'm not even a believer!") After the sale is completed, they are offered a number of items in exchange, ranging from a goat to a new wife for Mr. Grainger. This is interrupted by a surprise fire drill, which ends in chaos. They are forced to stay afterwards for practice, which is interrupted by a real fire.
Fifty Years On
The staff celebrate Mrs. Slocombe's birthday. The major task is to confirm her age, which is finally determined by finding the age of her pussy. Thankfully, due to complete records, they are able to determine when she first had it. The age of Tiddles is found, and from there they decide Mrs. Slocombe must be 50. An additional problem is determining her full name. The biggest problem occurs, however, when they discover she is only 46! [Floor Display]
Oh What A Tangled Web
Capt. Peacock appears to be having an affair with Miss Hazelwood, bringing Mrs. Peacock to Grace Brothers with the intention of determining the truth. It all comes out at the board of inquiry set up by Mr. Grace after Mr. Grainger is attacked by Miss Hazelwood irate father. [Floor Display]
The Father Christmas Affair
The staff all want to play Father Christmas, after a mechanical version flashes the staff ("Hohoho little boy, have I got a surprise for you!") and crushes a small boy. Mrs. Slocombe is finally paid to do the job. Or, depending on the version, Mr. Grainger is chosen by the boy they find on the street. Two versions of this episode are in existence, the one with Mrs. Slocombe as Father Christmas is a truncated version of the original. [Floor Display]

---------- 1977 ----------

Mrs. Slocombe Expects
The staff think Mrs. Slocombe is going to have a baby, they find that it is only her cat. Denied time off, she smuggles her cat into work, but is discovered by Captain Peacock. His anger melts at the sight up the kittens.
A Change Is As Good As A Rest
The staff temporarily are transferred to the toy department, where they start slowly but quickly warm to the change.
Founder's Day
The staff compile a retrospective for Mr. Grace's 80th birthday.
The Old Order Changes
The staff dress in mod fashions as a sales gimmick, after Mr. Grace's visit to the United States. After redesigning the store and staff in 70's fashions, Mr. Grace returns from his trip to China and gives them his new sales proposal, described in his Little Red Book. [Floor Display]
The staff prevent a takeover of Grace Brothers by another firm, by impersonating the shareholders. Mr. Harman gives a rousing speech, and Grace Brothers is saved.
Goodbye Mr. Grainger
Mr. Grainger may have to leave Grace Brothers, as his temper as become extremely short. The staff, in a private meeting with Mr. Rumbold, decide he must go. However, when he wins the lottery, his bad mood vanishes and he makes his peace with the staff and stays on.
It Pays To Advertise
The staff star in a TV commercial for Grace Brothers, produced by Mr. Humphries. [Floor Display]

---------- 1978 ----------

By Appointment
The staff prepare for a visit by the Queen. The visit is abruptly ended when Mrs. Slocombe accidentally pushes a flower pot out the window, nearly hitting the Royal Couple. [Floor Display]
The Club
The staff try to decorate a clubroom in Grace Brothers' basement, resulting in major disagreements and finally an all-out battle. [Floor Display]
"Do You Take This Man?"
Mrs. Slocombe, after her fiancé returns home to his wife, stages her wedding for her wealthy uncle so she can get the house promised her if she marries a Greek.
Shedding the Load
The staff must decide which of them will lose a job. After a meeting to decide the unlucky person, Mr. Tebbs decides he must retire and make room for a younger man. At his noble gesture, the others decide they cannot let him get away with such generosity and all quit, but Mr. Grace cancels the cutback anyway. [Floor Display]
A Bliss Girl
Mr. Humphries takes the place of an absent salesgirl, as Capt. Peacock is demoted to Assistant Salesman in his place. [Floor Display]
Happy Returns
The staff plan a ballet to celebrate Mr. Grace's birthday. [Floor Display]

---------- 1979 ----------

The Junior
A new Junior is highered, Mr. Goldberg, who threatens to reveal "Captain" Peacock's past.
Strong Stuff This Insurance
The staff must take physicals to get insurance. Listening through the door of Mr. Grace's office, they hear Mr. Harman describing the state of the furniture, which they misunderstand as being the results of their physicals.
The Apartment
Mrs. Slocombe moves into a display apartment in Grace Brothers, because her new home has squatters. Due to a transport strike, the whole floor arrives one by one, seeking refuge.
Mrs. Slocombe, Senior Person
Mrs. Slocombe temporarily takes the place of Mr. Rumbold, who is taken in. She eats the cream cakes she finds in his office, before he calls from the hospital warning that they are what made him ill.
The Hero
Capt. Peacock is challenged to a boxing match. He backs out, and Mr. "Hugger" Humphries is "elected" to take his place in a wrestling match. He loses the match, but Mrs. Slocombe enters the ring and defeats the challenger.
Anything You Can Do
The staff try to run the canteen, after a major argument with the canteen staff. After impressing everyone with the quality, they realize they are losing money and decide to apologize to the canteen staff.
The Agent
Mr. Goldberg tries to get the staff better jobs. After Captain Peacock and Mr. Rumbold become aware of this, Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocombe are given rises, and decide to stay with the store.
The Punch and Judy Affair
The staff enact a life-size Punch and Judy show to try and placate the rest of the staff, whose picket lines they crossed. [Floor Display]

---------- 1981 ----------

Is It Catching?
The staff contract a strange illness, Marine's Disease, from Mr. Humphries. They are quarantined in the basement until the illness is past. [Floor Display]
A Personal Problem
Capt. Peacock's wife works at Grace Brothers, as Mr. Rumbold's secretary. He is intensely jealous, and the staff seeks a way to confirm her infidelity.
Front Page Story
Mr. Humphries is made editor of the staff magazine. The 1st Floor staff is not pleased with the stories he writes about them, causing friction in their relations with him.
Sit Out
The staff go on strike, after being threatened with a pay cut or being moved to the bargain basement. They stage a protest on the roof, which is interrupted by a fire which destroys the basement.
Heir Apparent
Old Mr. Grace thinks Mr. Humphries is his long-lost son. Mrs. Humphries (also played by Mr. Inman) arrives, and shows that she has never had relations with Mr. Grace.
Closed Circuit
Miss Brahms attracts the amorous attention of a lord. Captain Peacock, Mr. Humphries, and Mrs. Slocombe try to give her a respectable background to no avail; Lord Hurley falls for Mr. Grace's nurse.
The Erotic Dreams of Mrs. Slocombe
Mrs. Slocombe falls in love with Mr. Humphries, to his great distress.
The staff celebrate Old Mr. Grace's 90th birthday, and the staff attempt to make him a coat of arms, leading to the tracing of his roots.

---------- 1983 ----------

The Sweet Smell of Success
Mrs. Slocombe sells her home-made perfume. After a great misunderstanding, Mrs. Peacock finds Captain Peacock without his pants (perfume had spilled on them) and the ill-fated trousers in the hands of Miss Belfridge, Mr. Rumbold's secretary.
Conduct Unbecoming
Mr. Humphries is accused of stealing. In a trial, he is found guilty and dismissed, but Mr. Harmon finds the missing money in the back of the till.
Memories Are Made of This
Mrs. Slocombe is hit by a golf ball and thinks she's a little girl, wrecking havoc on the store as she cavorts around the department.
Calling All Customers
The staff perform a play on CB radio to advertise Grace Brothers. The play results in the store being swamped by truck drivers, who are driven off by Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocombe.
Monkey Business
Grace Brothers may be bought by the Japanese. The staff take their problems to Number 10, where they contact such persons as President Reagan on the phone, and Mrs. Thatcher gets fashion tips from Mr. Humphries.
Lost and Found
Mrs. Slocombe's cat is missing, and in comforting her, Mr. Humphries finds himself entangled even deeper than he expected.

---------- 1984 ----------

Goodbye Mrs. Slocombe
Mrs. Slocombe is forcibly retired, and takes various jobs in the store. Mr. Humphries and Captain Peacock get her job back, but Captain Peacock and Mr. Rumbold are retired in the same manner. They end the show as the cleaner and the lift operator.
Grounds for Divorce
Capt. Peacock's marriage appears to be in trouble, as he tries to decide whether to stay with his wife or go with his lover, Miss Bagnold.
The Hold Up
The staff try to foil two burglars, by first impersonating the police and then the much-feared Gumby Gang, with Pa Gumby (Mr. Harman), Mad Ma Gumby (Mrs. Slocombe), and Italian Tony, the Tooting Terror (Mr. Humphries). They call Mr. Rumbold, who thinks it is all a joke.
Gambling Fever
The staff bet on horse races. After being catch watching the race in Mr. Rumbold's office, Mr. Humphries goes to the sports department and mimes the race to the rest of the staff over the security camera.
The Night Club
The staff film a commercial for a nightclub to the run in the store. The picture is lost when the ad is shown, leaving only the sound, making the nightclub sound like a brothel. [Floor Display]
Friends and Neighbors
The staff use apartments in the Grace Brothers building, to cut down on transportation costs.
The Pop Star
Mr. Spooner's vocal talents are discovered during the staff show. He is signed by a record company, and the staff appears on TV performing the song when Mr. Spooner loses his voice.

Are You Being Served? The Movie

Are You Being Served? The Movie was made in 1977, and starred John Inman, Mollie Sugden, Frank Thorton, Wendy Richards, Trevor Bannister, Arthur Brough, Nicolas Smith, Arthur English, and Harold Bennet. The plot concerned a vacation taken while the store is closed for remodeling. However, during their visit there is a rebel uprising and the movie climaxes with the appearance of Young Mr. Grace in a tank. The jokes are taken more-or-less straight from the TV Series, but it is the only AYBS? show I know of in which people die. (Albeit somewhat comically.)

Are You Being Served? Cast List

Darian has made a great set of character profiles for most of the characters on the show. I highly recommend you check them out: James' AYBS? Character Profiles

[position character: actor (years on show, if not 1972-1984)]

Senior Saleslady, Ladies' Department
Mrs. Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Jennifer Rachel Yiddell Abergavenny Slocombe: Mollie Sugden
Junior Saleslady, Ladies' Department
Miss Shirley Brahms: Wendy Richard
Senior Salesman, Gentlemen's Department
Mr. Ernest Grainger: Arthur Brough (1972-1977)
Mr. Percival Tebbs: James Hayter (1978)
Mr. Harry Goldberg: Alfie Bass (1979)
Mr. Grossman: Milo Sperber (1981)
Mr. Klein: Benny Lee (1981)
Assistant (later Senior) Salesman, Gentlemen's Department
Mr. Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries: John Inman
Junior Salesman, Gentlemen's Department
Mr. James (a.k.a. Dick) Lucas: Trevor Bannister (1972-1979)
[Mr. Lucas is called James in "The Clock" and Dick in "The Old Order Changes".]
Mr. Bert Spooner: Mike Berry (1981-1984)
Floorwalker, First Floor
Capt. Stephen Peacock: Frank Thornton
[In "The Junior", Mr. Goldberg reveals that "Captain" Peacock's rank is really Corporal.]
Manager, First Floor
Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold: Nicholas Smith
Owners, Grace Brothers
Young Mr. Grace: Harold Bennett (1972-1981)
Old Mr. Henry Grace: Kenneth Waller (1981)
Head, Packing and Maintenance
Mr. Mash: Larry Martyn (1972-1976)
Mr. Beverly Harmon: Arthur English (1976-1984)
Mr. Grace's Nurse: Vivienne Johnson
Ms. Belfridge: Candy Davis
The Canteen Manageress: Doremy Vernon

You may also enjoy:

AYBS?A! Episode Guide
AYBS? Pictures!
AYBS? Sounds!

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Last Modified 02/09/00.

The Fans of British Television