Episode Reviews Part 6

Forward Mr. Grainger

In this episode, Mr. Grainger takes over the department in Mr. Rumbold's absence and, in the process, reveals an entirely different side of his personality.


chiropodist - another word for "podiatrist". (Would you visit a podiatrist recommended by Mr. Lucas?)
Trivia: Best Bits: Bons Mots: Rumbold leaves again for his seminar, with Grainger again taking over the department. This time around, he's learned his lesson and instead of threatening to fire the staff for being late back from lunch, he offers them a drink from the executive drinks trolley.


A bit of a slow start, with character study more important than plot (or even customers). A brilliant tour de force for Arthur Brough (Mr. Grainger).

Fire Practice

In this rather schizophrenic episode, a royal customer (to be more precise, an Arab emir and his entourage) causes havoc, followed by the staff's expectedly disastrous yet hilarious attempts at fire preparedness training. Also, this is one of the first episodes to prominently feature the then-new maintenance man, Mr. Harman.

Some public television stations have dropped this episode because of its "controversial content", presumably referring to its stereotypical depiction of Arabs.


Arthur English (Mr. Harman) gets his words twisted around when describing the fire practice dummy (see below) but deftly covers his mistake by ad-libbing.
Tacky Display:
Myrtle the mouth-to-mouth practice dummy, complete with lights, bells, and expanding chest.
(Failed) Catchphrase:
"Do you mind if I have a word with my friend?" (not quite "I'm free!" or even "Weak as water!").
Best Bits: Bons Mots: During fire practice, the fire alarm goes off for a real fire. The others rush out, with Mr. Humphries being personally rescued by the fire chief, leaving a Scottish fireman to rummage about in the canvas fire escape looking for Mrs. Slocombe.


Virtual Video Vault rating: C- for the first half (trouser-shopping emir), A for the second half (fire drill).

Fifty Years On

Mrs. Slocombe turns 50. Oh, the horror (for her and the put-upon staff)!


First appearance by Miss Bakewell (Penny Irving), one of the most durable of the "bimbo" secretaries.
Bloopers: Trivia: Britspeak:
an obsolete silver coin worth 5 shillings (25p)
slang term for a shilling
British History Lesson:
Jarrow March: On 5 October 1936, a group of 200 workers began a 300-mile march from Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, to London in order to protest the closing of the town's shipyards. This event is considered by some as a landmark in the long history of worker struggles.
Best Bits: Bons Mots: As Mrs.Slocombe is presented with her "blooming" cake and sees a large "50" in pink icing, she unhappily exclaims "I am only 46!" and storms off. (In "Founder's Day" her year of birth is given as 1926, so her correct age was 50.)


There are enough classic bits in "Fifty Years On" for ten shows. Top-notch AYBS?.

Oh What a Tangled Web

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott, Marmion

Rumors abound regarding an affair between Captain Peacock and Mr. Rumbold's new secretary, Miss Hazlewood, while the reaction of Peacock's jealous wife only fuels suspicions. After Young Mr. Grace convenes a board of inquiry, Mr. Rumbold, Mr. "Perry Mason" Harman and the rest of the staff try to get to the bottom of the sordid mess.


Début of the first Mrs. Peacock (Diana King), who would also appear in "A Personal Problem" and "The Sweet Smell of Success."
Peacock claims he and Rumbold have known each other 14 years, "man and boys' wear."
John Inman refers to only a "conference in Birmingham", yet the others in the scene respond with "sales conference in Birmingham."
Vocabulary Quiz:
a pale yellow seedless grape or the raisin thereof
Best Bits and Bons Mots: As Mrs. Peacock, brandishing her umbrella, chases Mrs. Slocombe through the store (Miss Brahms: "It don't look like she got the job"), Mr. Hazlewood arrives to defend his daughter's honor. Mistaking Grainger for Peacock, the indignant father smashes Grainger in the head with her unneeded wedding cake, sending not a little simulated cream up the nostrils and not a few sultanas and salted almonds into other parts of Grainger's anatomy.

In the board of inquiry scene, one of the greatest ever in AYBS?, the clever wordplay, misunderstandings, and pompous confusion aid this scene as it features: Harman's misplaced enthusiasm; Mrs. Peacock's overwrought emotionalism; Rumbold's bumbling; Grainger's slow recovery from the deadly wedding-cake assault; Peacock's usual pompousness; some surprisingly funny quips from Young Mr. Grace; and Mrs. Slocombe, Miss Brahms, Mr. Humphries, and Mr. Lucas being their usual hilarious selves. Some highlights:

(Un)fortunately, Mrs. Peacock believes her husband's story and pledges her undying love, to Captain Peacock's noticeable discomfort.


Excellent farce spotlighting Peacock's private life. Absolutely superb in every respect.

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© 1997 Emily Jackson