Episode Reviews Part 8
Grace Brothers' foundations tremble—not to mention Ladies' Underwear—as the august firm faces a hostile takeover bid from rival Lally and Willett's.
- One of only a few episodes in which Mrs. Slocombe sports a semi-realistic hair color.
- Musical Floors: Now the department's on the third floor.
In the shareholders' dinner scene, Trevor Bannister (Mr. Lucas) cracks up at the sight of Arthur Brough's (Mr. Grainger) wig.
Young Mr. Grace's ideas on how best to defeat the takeover bid:
Not surprisingly, Harman's suggestion of sending ringers to the shareholders' dinner is adopted instead.
- Burn down the store and collect the insurance (well, it worked in 1928).
- Get the Mafia to rub out the competition (inspired by an episode of Kojak).
- Hijack Mrs. Willett, lock her in the safe, and throw away the combination (Hawaii Five-O).
- Photograph Miss Bakewell in bed with Mr. Willett (Columbo).
- Photograph Mr. Humphries in bed with Mr. Willett (Mr. Humphries: "Is there a program I've missed?")
More Best Bits:
- Henry Grant-Hopkins
- Lady Weeble Ablesmith (say that five times fast—Lucas couldn't even say it once)
- Sir Richard Ryan (Mr. Grainger in a bad wig)
- Lord Stableforth (Mr. Harman)
- Lady Stableforth (Mrs. Slocombe)
- Lavinia Stableforth (Miss Brahms)
- Peacock's attempts at Scottish and Cockney accents, desperately trying to win the part of one of the shareholders.
- Mr. Humphries' impersonation of a one-legged Nigerian tap dancer (he doesn't get the part, as he admits he couldn't play it "with any degree of sincerity.")
- At the last moment, Mr. Humphries is enlisted to serve as the chef for the shareholders' dinner and practically has a nervous breakdown ("I'm not doing none of it!") over the elaborate meal he is expected to prepare.
- Similarly, Lucas and Peacock must serve as waiters for the evening. Because the head waiter's costume is too small for Peacock, Lucas gets to enjoy lording it over the department floorwalker.
- Lucas' using Grainger's wig to mop up spilled liquid.
- Mr. Humphries' expansive soufflé and fallen Yorkshire.
Mr. Harman saves the day by giving a stirring speech at the dinner, convincing the other shareholders to reject the takeover bid.
- Lucas (guessing what the "top secret" meeting in Rumbold's office might be about): We're gonna declare war on Marshall and Snellgrove's!
- The staff are reading newspaper "help wanted" ads:
Mrs. Slocombe: "Glamorous personal assistant required by director of film company…much travel…must be under 30"—oh dear, just too late.
Mr. Humphries: Listen to this: "Organ demonstrator wanted"!
Mr. Grainger: The only job for which I seem qualified is that of a chair man.
Captain Peacock: Company chairman?
Mr. Grainger: No, deck chair man.
- Mrs. Slocombe: There is one vacancy that requires to be filled—between Mr. Lucas' ears!
- Lucas (suggesting a slogan for a possible pet care business for Mrs. Slocombe): "If your pussy's in the mood, have it clipped and then shampooed."
- At another "top secret" meeting:
Young Mr. Grace: Have you got your pencil and notebook ready?
Miss Bakewell: Yes, Mr. Grace.
YMG: Well, throw them away; this is top secret.
- Peacock (irritated by Lucas' ordering him around at the dinner): If we do save the firm, some of our lives are not going to be worth living!
This zany episode is one of the best not yet available on home video.
An odd cross between "The Clock" and "Forward Mr. Grainger".
- Only episode with blue credits.
- Repeating a major plot element from the pilot episode, Mr. Grainger is upset about losing the center stand to Mrs. Slocombe's bras.
- Mr. Grainger won £22 15s 6d (£22.78) in the football pools in 1936.
- Mr. Humphries' ice skating lesson, inspired by seeing British Olympic champion John Curry on the telly (Lucas: "Did you hurt yourself?" Humphries: "Nothing that nature couldn't mend.")
- Mr. Grainger sitting on the shop floor alone as the rest of the staff meet in Rumbold's office to decide his future with the firm.
Grainger writes out his resignation letter before he can be fired, but he lives to regret this action (see below). As the lights dim, Harman leaves Grainger sitting alone in the department, seemingly without a friend or much of a future.
- Lucas' suggestion that Grainger be sent to the knacker's yard instead of merely being sacked.
- Rumbold's ironic suggestion that octogenarian Young Mr. Grace inform septuagenarian Mr. Grainger that he's too old to work at Grace Brothers.
Grainger, thinking he's won the football pools (the approximate American equivalent might be winning the lottery), contritely returns to work and graciously apologizes for his behavior. Inspired to generosity by his assumed good fortune, he buys presents for each of the staff:
The staff decide to collect £50 to repay Grainger for the gifts, telling him that was the amount of his winnings.
- Mrs. Slocombe: a "diamantic" (diamanté) collar for her pussy(cat).
- Miss Brahms: French perfume.
- Mr. Lucas: a battery-powered shaver.
- Mr. Humphries: a 3-speed blow dryer (Lucas: "Don't use the fast one; you'll blow it away.")
- Captain Peacock: a silver carnation holder.
- Mr. Rumbold: a silver spoon.
The staff expect Grainger to take the bad news hard, but it's Humphries who faints when he tells Grainger he only won £50 (in reality, of course, he didn't win a thing). Harman had snatched Grainger's resignation letter away before Young Mr. Grace could open it, so Grainger is told he can stay on after all. Grainger then reads the letter to the staff, and the comments written in anger serve only to re-antagonize his fellow workers. Grainger is reluctant to read aloud his take on Mr. Humphries—when Humphries sees it, he has a fit, tearing up the letter and jumping up and down on the remnants.
- Mrs. Slocombe: There you are, madam; I hope the garment gives every satisfaction.
Customer: And you really think that this type of corset will keep my figure under control?
Mrs. Slocombe: Well, the stiffeners are the best quality whale bone.
Customer: Yes, but will they be strong enough?
Mrs. Slocombe: Well, they're strong enough for the whale!
- Lucas: As my mother always said, life is like a game of chess: At the end of the day, the black pawn and the white queen both go in the same box.
Humphries: That's something to look forward to!
- Humphries (scolding Lucas in a shrill voice): Don't you answer me back, or you'll get my dander up!
- Mrs. Slocombe (surprised by Grainger's sudden change in demeanor): Did you have a deep religious experience?
Grainger: No, I won the pools!
- Humphries: Look at my hands!
Lucas (pointing to each hand in turn): That one's shaking more than that one.
Humphries: Well, I'm right-handed, aren't I?
- Humphries: Deceit, thy name is man!
A strangely flat episode, conspicuous only in its relative mediocrity compared to the rest of the 1977 series.
In this episode, not only are Mrs. Slocombe and Mr. Humphries shown to be no dummies, but the staff also try their hand at making a cinema advert after Young Mr. Grace decides hiring Spike Milligan would cost too much.
- Sadly, the last episode featuring Arthur Brough (Mr. Grainger), who passed away in 1978.
- This, the final episode of the 1977 series, was also the last with "BBC Colour" in the end credits. (Incidentally, BBC1 originally aired "It Pays to Advertise" on Good Friday[!].)
- The first of several episodes in which the staff are asked to produce some sort of advertisement ("Closed Circuit", "Calling All Customers", "The Night Club").
- Freddie Wiles, who played Mr. Grace's silent chauffeur in several episodes, here gets a line of dialogue as Mr. Harman's assistant.
"Grace Brothers Cinema Commercial":
- The customer who, after buying a £10 bottle of perfume, sprays it all over himself as he leaves the store.
Peacock: Did you find what you were looking for?
Customer: No, but wearing this, I have high hopes.
- Mrs. Slocombe and Mr. Humphries, chosen to represent the "average" woman and man, are paid £10 each for posing for the store's new display dummies. Mrs. Slocombe's dummy looks like an overstuffed cross between Margaret Thatcher and the Bride of Frankenstein.
Mrs. Slocombe (as Harman adjusts the display's stuffing): I will not have rough workmen's hands inside my bra!
Still, Mr. Grainger manages to mistake the dummy Mrs. Slocombe for the real one.
Harman: This could be your last chance.
- After Mr. Humphries gives his dummy an "adjustment", the head pops off and Humphries has to stand in for his replica self. To his horror, he learns the dummy was intended to accompany the store's upcoming "special event in y-fronts"; Peacock and Lucas are ordered to "strip him off."
- Peacock is forced to sit under a dryer in hair curlers to prepare for his part as a David Niven type who goes into the advert's fictional Cocoa Club.
- Mrs. Slocombe, as the club's "woman of mystery", must contend with a too-tight cocktail dress and sticky false eyelashes.
- Rumbold gamely portrays a hapless gypsy orchestra leader with a faulty accordion and bad moustache.
- Miss Brahms, as the club's Playboy bunny-esque hat check girl, receives a little help from commercial director Humphries:
Miss Brahms: Mr. Humphries, do you know where it [her "tail"] goes?
Humphries: Contrary to popular belief, yes.
- Mr. Grainger portrays Henry the "loveable old bartender" in pink jacket and ill-fitting trousers with "improvised" dialogue no one wants.
- Among other technical problems, Mr. Lucas has to pick up Mrs. Slocombe and heave her onto the bar stool; and Mrs. Slocombe drops her wireless microphone down her dress, forcing Peacock to shout his lines into her cleavage.
- The commercial concludes with Young Mr. Grace attempting to pour champagne into a glass (well, he does get the bottle within several feet of the glass—"I need a wider glass or a longer bottle.") and the tag line "You'll have a bubbly champagne time shopping at Grace Brothers."
- Humphries: I once trained as an osteopath; when I got down to it, I wasn't up to it.
- Humphries (to the porter handling his dummy): Do be careful what you do with your right hand; you're making my eyes water!
- Rumbold: Shall I explain your idea to them, sir?
Young Mr. Grace: I think perhaps you'd better; I've forgotten it.
- Humphries: (after Lucas has suggested that Grainger arrange the bar's nuts in the advert): Mr. Lucas, I am the director of this film, and if I find any artistic value in his arranging his nuts, I shall be the one to tell you!
After Young Mr. Grace sees the mess the staff have made of things, he decides to hire Spike Milligan to do the commercial instead.
Perfect end to the 1977 series; unfortunately, not on home video.
Series Six (1978)
After the passing of Arthur Brough, veteran actor James Hayter stepped in to play the new head of Gent's Ready-Mades, Percival Tebbs. (Fans of Mr. Tebbs might want to check out the Percival Tebbs Memorial Roadside Attraction page, one of the most unique AYBS? sites on the Internet.) Even though Arthur Brough's beloved portrayal of Mr. Grainger was sorely missed, the quality of AYBS? remained high. Three of the 1978 episodes — "The Club", "Do You Take This Man?", and "Happy Returns" — are available on home video.
An exciting day for the staff of Grace Brothers as they welcome a new Gentlemen's department head (Mr. Tebbs) and eagerly await a possible visit from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Début of new Ladies' Wear uniforms.
Credits are a pale green.. (They did look that way on Alabama Public TV's worn-out copy of this episode. Some of the credits do have a green "haze" around them.)
- Mr. Tebbs had resigned from his previous assignment in Soft Furnishings after the introduction of bean bags.
- The transistor radio shown during the end credits is a Philips.
- Miss Brahms, who had been taking elocution lessons while on holiday, offends an upper-class customer by trying to sound "posh."
- Mr. Humphries' "holiday" suit that seems to have been dipped in sherbet.
- In a scene reminiscent of the pilot episode, Mr. Tebbs has to give Mr. Lucas (along with Mr. Humphries) yet another lesson in handkerchief fluting. This time, Mr. Humphries' handkerchief goes limp instead of Mr. Lucas'.
- During rehearsals for the royal visit, Mrs. Slocombe and Captain Peacock stand in for the royal couple, but they have a bit of trouble maintaining their royal decorum (after all, Peacock does not expect the entire department to see his blue y-fronts).
- On the day of the visit, Mrs. Slocombe dons a large sash reading "Supervisor" to prevent her being mistaken for her junior.
Peacock's sounding like Donald Duck (or one of the Chipmunks) as a result of a throat infection contracted during a Swiss yodeling holiday. This fictitious malady is almost as ridiculous as "Marine's disease" from 1981's "Is It Catching?"
After listening to the BBC's radio commentary, the staff rush to Rumbold's office window to watch the royal procession. Unfortunately, Mrs. Slocombe knocks a potted plant off the windowsill that just misses the royals as it falls, forcing them to flee the High Street and forgo a shopping trip to Grace Brothers without even stopping to see their selection of y-fronts.
- Mr. Harman: Did you and your secretary have a nice time on your yacht?
Young Mr. Grace: No, no; it was all up and down, up and down…
- Mr. Tebbs: We must look after the little things; big things take care of themselves.
- Peacock: Of course, we have had a queen here before…
Humphries (after a long, startled pause): What exactly are you suggesting, Captain Peacock?
- Mrs. Slocombe (on royalty marrying commoners): Commoners, Miss Brahms, but not dead common commoners.
- Mr. Tebbs: You cannot sit down in the presence of the monarch!
Young Mr. Grace: It's either that or fall down.
- Humphries (going over Young Mr. Grace's script with him): It gives me great pleaSURE…
Young Mr. Grace (imitating Mr. Humphries' vocal inflections): It gives me great pleaSURE…
- Young Mr. Grace (trying to read his script without help): Something…something…something…something…something…something.
One of the best of the post-classic era, and a strong introduction for the newest member of the AYBS? family.
Motivated by a £50-per-person fee, the staff redecorate a decrepit basement room donated by Young Mr. Grace to use as a social club.
- Unusually, Mr. Humphries insults Mrs. Slocombe in this episode.
- Equally unusual, Mrs. Slocombe turns out to be the most sensible of the lot during the redecorating work.
- Frank Thornton seems to be having trouble remembering the name of newcomer James Hayter's character (at one point he refers to him as "Mr. Saint James"[?]).
The Flexi-Bra (Mrs. Slocombe: "I think that Mr. Harman should take it back to where from whence it came") and the matching pants.
- Mr. Lucas' top-notch swatches.
- Little Roger (a poodle) gets fitted for a coat, and Mr. Humphries gets quite a shock.
- Mrs. Slocombe's medical "examination" by a painter.
- Suggestions for the social club:
- "Jukebox?" [not exactly Mr. Tebbs' favorite]
- "Guest Night—query" [Mr. Humphries' suggestion]
- Mrs. Slocombe's requesting accommodations for her pussy in the new club.
- While redecorating room 5 for the club, Mrs. Slocombe and Miss Brahms give the men a lesson on moving a bed.
- Mr. Lucas accidentally pours paste on Mr. Tebbs (Trevor Bannister has to aim twice to get the paste on James Hayter's chest instead of his head) and the chaos begins as the staff childishly engage in a paste fight.
As the staff "decorate" each other, Mr. Rumbold enters and, seeing the mess the staff have made, threatens to cancel the social club altogether. The others promptly dump the rest of the paste on Mr. Rumbold, and the idea of a social club is forgotten.
- Captain Peacock: Are you being served, sir?
Roger's Master: No, are you an assistant?
Captain Peacock: No…Actually, I'm in charge of the floor.
Roger's Master: Oh. (looking down at the floor) Well, I must say it looks very nice.
- Mrs. Slocombe (to customer): If the D cup isn't comfy, do bring it back. We'll see what we can do with a hat stretcher.
- Mr. Harman (to Captain Peacock): When we take over, you'll be the first to go; you know that, don't you?
- Miss Brahms: [Mr. Lucas] only sold 4 pair of y-fronts this morning and he's very bitter.
- Mrs. Slocombe: If it weren't for men like Captain Peacock [during the war], where would we be now?
Mr. Lucas: Going down to room fünf to play ze pong mit ze ping.
- Mrs. Slocombe: That's it! You can include me out!
- (The staff are voting on banishing Mr. Lucas for being rude to Mrs. Slocombe in the canteen.)
Mr. Tebbs: What are we voting for?
Mr. Humphries: It's about being rude to Mrs. Slocombe.
Mr. Tebbs: Well, I have no objection to that.
- Mr. Tebbs: Don't teach your grandmother how to suck eggs!
Witty dialog and loads of physical humor make this episode most enjoyable.
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©1999 Emily Jackson