Episode Reviews Part 3

Big Brother

Another of society's ills—shoplifting—hits Grace Brothers, precipitating another management-staff conflict. As usual, the staff prevails.


This episode marks the final appearance of Mr. Rumbold's original secretary (played by Stephanie Gathercole Reeve)—the only non-bimbo secretary in the history of AYBS? Ms. Reeve also provided the voice intoning "Ground floor, perfumery, stationery and leather goods…" in the AYBS? theme.
Best Bits: Bons Mots: Conclusion:
All's well that ends well (almost)—Rumbold removes the security cameras, but Miss Brahms gets the measles, ruining Lucas' best-laid plans. The security-camera theme of this cleverly-plotted episode was later copied in "Closed Circuit" and "Gambling Fever".

Hoorah for the Holidays

In some respects, this episode is a precursor to the AYBS? film (the staff go on holiday together), but we only see the planning, not the actual trip.


Mrs. Slocombe's friend is Mrs. Althrop, not Mrs. Axelby.
Best Bits: Bons Mots: In the end, the staff get to take their holidays at the destinations of their own choosing—the last two weeks in November.


Would that the film were this charming.

Series Three (1975)

After two seasons of competing with Man About the House and Coronation Street for British TV viewers, AYBS? found itself against softer competition in 1975, allowing it to shoot to the top of the ratings and to the forefront of the national consciousness. In short, AYBS? was finally a hit. "Wedding Bells", "German Week", and "New Look" are available on VHS, as is the 1975 Christmas special, "Christmas Crackers."

The Hand of Fate

In this episode we see another of Mr. Humphries' talents, palm reading, as the staff hope "the hand of fate" is working for his or her own promotion to vacancies that turn out to be non-existent.


"The Hand of Fate", regrettably, features stereotypical assumptions about Asians that seem shocking to 1990s sensibilities, not to mention such racist terms as "Nip", pidgin English, "Asian" accents, and the mistaken belief that "Japanese" and "Chinese" are interchangeable. Some would say these attitudes are a product of another time and place; others might respond that their anachronism does not excuse their inappropriateness.
The début of Mr. Rumbold's first bimbo secretary, Miss Ainsworth (wearing an extremely short skirt).
Trivia: Best Bits: Bons Mots: And in the end…:
"Beware of a bald-headed man with big ears," according to the leaves from Young Mr. Grace's broken tea bag, thereby persuading him to deny Rumbold his expected promotion. Meanwhile, Peacock helps Mrs. Slocombe put some hat boxes on the top shelf in one of the storage rooms. As Humphries and Lucas rush in to tell them about Rumbold, the door's swinging open knocks down the ladder Peacock was standing on, sending Peacock to the floor and a hat flying out of its box to land on Peacock's head. Humphries' predictions are fulfilled, but not as anyone had expected.
The Last Word:
Humphries: "I think this would be a very good time to leave my body."
The ending is a bit pat, the scene with the Japanese customer a distraction and not really necessary, but there are still some good examples of classic AYBS? farce.

Coffee Morning

Labor unrest hits Grace Brothers, led by…Mr. Grainger?


Last episode with yellow credits (until 1981's "Roots?").
Best Bits: Bons Mots: In the end, Young Mr. Grace saves the day, but in a way the staff doesn't expect. No more trudging up to the canteen to take their tea break: now they'll have their morning coffee handed to them right on the shop floor.


With its deliciously ironic ending and clever wordplay, this episode is a delightful little diversion.

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© 1997 Emily Jackson