More Episode Reviews

Mr. Humphries' old friend

Diamonds Are a Man's Best Friend

This episode not only features the usual comic misunderstandings but also manifestations of the staff's worst instincts in that their greed prompts them to do anything to supplement their meager salaries.


First episode in which Mrs. Slocombe "is unanimous in this."
  • Episode takes place on a Friday (payday).
  • Lucas' salary is £19.00 (£11.47 after deductions).
  • Mr. Humphries' name is misspelled in the closing credits as "Humphreys."
Best Bits:
  • Mr. Humphries' friend stops by the store—a lovely girl who's been "much more settled since he's had the operation."
  • A female customer is persuaded to buy "an unrepeatable offer"—a 44 long requiring extensive alterations.
  • (Classic Bit) Lucas, seeing the missing diamond lying on the floor between Peacock's legs, takes a giant step toward Peacock to cover the diamond with his foot. When Peacock asks why he is standing in that position, Lucas blames his lumbago. Humphries immediately rushes over to massage Lucas' ankle; Peacock retorts that lumbago doesn't affect the ankle. ("If I massaged him where you do get it, we'd both be thrown out.")

    Later, Peacock sees yet another "missing diamond" on the floor between Mrs. Slocombe's legs and does a "Lucas", covering the diamond with his foot. (Actually, Peacock's diamond is the real one.)

  • Humphries and Lucas crawl on their hands and knees pretending to look for the diamond (although they think they've already found it—they just don't want the others to know it), look up, see a customer approaching, and ask in unison "Are you being served?"
Mr. Lucas looks for the diamond; Mr. Humphries chats with the jewel's owner
Mr. Humphries massages Mr. Lucas' ankle as Capt. Peacock looks on
Mr. Rumbold and his secretary
Lucas and Humphries searching on hands and knees
The staff in Mr. Rumbold's office
Tacky Bit:

Peacock (and later, Lucas) calls the diamond's owner in Rumbold's voice.

The staff members, each of whom believes he/she has found the diamond, end up in Rumbold's office, all claiming "I haven't found the diamond yet." Everyone produces his/her "diamond" in turn, only to realize they were all rhinestones—all but one (Peacock's). Mr. Grace comes along and (surprise!) has to meddle in the situation. He adds £100 to the original £100 reward (which Rumbold had claimed to be only £75) and orders the £200 to be donated to the Grace Brothers Staff Home. Mr. Grainger ("It rather seems I shall be the first one to benefit.") is the only one smiling at the end.


A tiny notch below the other classics of the first series, but still very amusing.

Series Two (1974)

No sophomore jinx here—these episodes live up to the high quality standards set in the first series. Two of these, "Cold Comfort" and "Big Brother", are available on VHS, laser disc, and the elusive Beta tapes.

The Clock

Upon turning 65, Mr. Grainger is treated to a birthday dinner—but does he also get the cuckoo clock (Grace Brothers' traditional retirement gift)?


Trivia: Best Bits: Bons Mots: Conclusion:
A good start for the second series. The various characterizations are beginning to gel, and the show would only get better and better.
Mr. Rumbold and cleaners

Cold Comfort

In one of the most beloved classic episodes of AYBS?, the staff once again have to make the best of a bad situation when the heat is turned off at the store in the dead of winter to conserve fuel.

Censorship Rears Its Ugly Head:

On the 1997 CBS/Fox video, the scene with Mr. Rumbold and the cleaning women is optically censored, presumably to obscure the phallic appearance of the cleaner's frozen chamois. The broadcast and laser disc versions (and probably the 1992 home video) are unaltered, as is the 2002 DVD version.
Best Bits:
  • Mr. Rumbold's secret electric fire (heater) behind his office desk and his efforts to hide it from the staff.
  • The frozen toilet in the ladies' room.
  • Mr. Humphries warming his hands in the cashmere drawer.
  • After Mr. Mash tells them about Rumbold's electric fire, Mr. Lucas and Mr. Humphries scheme to smuggle various heating devices into the department (iron, electric blanket, blow dryers, toaster).
  • Mrs. Slocombe's ill-fitting long johns. When Peacock asks her to remove them, she steadfastly refuses, going instead to Mr. Rumbold for permission to wear them:
    —"I just want to know how you feel about them."
    —"Well, to be perfectly frank, they don't do anything for me."
    —"They're not supposed to do anything for you; they're supposed to be keeping me warm."
    —"I see. And are they?"
    —"Then what's the problem?"
    —"Do you mind if I don't take them off?"
    —"I would prefer it."
    —"Thank you!"
  • Mr. Humphries, while warming Mr. Grainger's thermal pad with an iron, uses two blow-dryers to shoot warm air up his trouser legs, blissfully exclaiming as he irons, "You shall go to the ball!" Blooper: While this is going on, Grainger is serving a customer at the side counter, and the "Special Offer" sign on the counter falls down.
  • Mrs. Slocombe sends Miss Brahms to get a bottle of brandy and pours some of the brandy into an empty perfume bottle. From time to time, she secretly takes a "spray" of brandy to keep warm. Peacock, ever helpful, swaps the brandy-filled bottle for one actually containing perfume and, in the final scene, realizes that perhaps he should not have done that as he gets a mouthful of perfume.
  • Lucas removes his shoes to warm his feet with the soon-to-be-famous "novelty foot warmers" (padded gloves heated in an electric toaster). When a customer comes in asking for trousers, Lucas can't find his shoes and has to come out on the shop floor wearing his "foot warmers." The customer, intrigued, buys two pairs of this "new" product.
  • The hot iron Humphries left on the counter melts through and drops into the sock cabinet.
    Grainger: (sternly) "Are you free, Mr. Humphries?"
    Humphries: "I'm afraid I am, Mr. Grainger. Mr. Lucas is free, too."
    Lucas: "Thank you!"
  • Peacock, followed by the rest of the men's department, barges into Rumbold's office with the confiscated heating devices. Rumbold hides his precious electric fire in a desk drawer, eventually starting a real fire. Lucas comes to the rescue and sprays Rumbold and the office walls with a fire extinguisher.
Mr. Humphries
Mrs. Slocombe shows her long johns to Captain Peacock
Mr. Humphries irons Mr. Grainger's thermal pad
Mrs. Slocombe mistakenly sprays perfume into Peacock's mouth
Bons Mots: Mr. Grace, ever the humanitarian, comes to their rescue by firing all of his employees at the Wharfside Coke Company and having its warehouse chopped up to provide fuel for Grace Brothers' boilers.


One of the quintessential AYBS? episodes—superb in every respect.
Peacock, Slocombe, and Brahms

The Think Tank

The first of the "dress-up" episodes, "The Think Tank" is a precursor to later costume extravaganzas such as "Happy Returns" and "The Punch and Judy Affair".

Best Bits:

  • Hat hierarchy: bowlers for department heads and above; homburgs, senior floor staff; caps or trilbies, junior floor staff. (Peacock comes to work wearing a bowler, Humphries comes in with a homburg, while Lucas is caught hatless.)
  • Peacock brings a cup of coffee from Beppo's Café to the early-morning think tank, and the rest of the staff sample the precious non-canteen brew in turn until there's none left for Peacock.
  • At the think tank, Peacock suggests a fashion show to boost sales, but Rumbold takes credit for the idea:
    Rumbold: "Unisex!"
    Humphries: "I beg your pardon?"
    Rumbold: "I mean a show for both sexes."
    Miss Brahms: "But I thought 'unisex' meant men and women in the same clothes?"
    Lucas: "It does!"
    Rumbold: "Does it? Perhaps I meant 'bisexual.'"
    Humphries (somewhat flustered): "No, I don't think you meant that, Mr. Rumbold."
Mr. Mash, dummy, entire staff
The staff strike a pose
Bons Mots: Conclusion:
After a slow start, "The Think Tank" finishes strongly with the very entertaining fashion show scene.

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© 1997 Emily Jackson