Episode Reviews Part 10

Series Seven (1979)

With the departure of James Hayter, Men's Wear acquired yet another department head in the person of Harry Goldberg (played by venerable comic actor Alfie Bass). Despite a few uncomfortable anti-Semitic moments in the 1979 series, the show maintained its high comic quality. At this point, the home-video pickings become rather slim, as the only post-1978 episode currently available is 1981's "The Erotic Dreams of Mrs. Slocombe."

The Junior

The staff bid farewell to the retiring Mr. Tebbs, and the search for a replacement turns up a surprising figure from Captain (or rather, Corporal) Peacock's army days.


Mr. Humphries, temporarily promoted to department head in this episode, would be promoted for good (and without fanfare) in the 1983 series.
Mr. Goldberg's "method" of adding up sales figures (he seems to be a cross between an accountant and a supplicant at the Wailing Wall.)
Best Bits: Bons Mots: Mr. Goldberg has to use a bit of blackmail on Peacock to persuade him to not push for Goldberg's dismissal—namely, a photo of Goldberg and Peacock in the army showing Peacock's tattoo. In light of this evidence, Peacock relents (and can be seen tearing up the incriminating photo during the end credits).


Although Alfie Bass' portrayal of Mr. Goldberg can be grating at times, "The Junior" is a solid AYBS? episode, with an especially amusing bit in the bizarre parade of job applicants.

Strong Stuff This Insurance

Titter-filled romp about the staff undergoing a medical examination for a group insurance scheme.

Tacky Product:

Ting-a-ling Knickers (not only are they part of a tacky display, they also turn up on Mrs. Slocombe, Mr. Humphries and a couple of Young Mr. Grace's nurses.)
Bons Mots: Best Bits: After their physical, the staff gather outside Young Mr. Grace's office to hear the results of the examination, unaware that they're actually listening to a report on the state of YMG's office furniture.


Substandard ending; otherwise a fairly good episode.

The Apartment

"The Apartment" could be called "Guess Who's Spending the Night?" as Mrs. Slocombe, temporarily finding herself at home on the store's top floor due to squatters in her new flat, is joined by her fellow workers, one by one, after they are stranded by a sudden transport strike. The 1985 episode "Friends and Neighbours" is basically a rewrite of this episode, but "The Apartment" is much funnier.


Best Bits: Bons Mots: Personal Note:
In order to watch this episode and "Mrs. Slocombe, Senior Person", your humble webmistress once had to set up a bow tie UHF antenna to pull in a distant PBS station after the local station was knocked off the air during a thunderstorm. The video quality was so abysmal, it was often impossible to tell how many people were on the screen and what exactly they were doing.
The high point of this unusually-structured episode comes in the last 10 minutes. A couple of odd camera angles also add to "The Apartment"'s uniqueness.
The Last Word:
"Mr. Humphries, leave my pussy alone!"

Mrs. Slocombe, Senior Person

When Mr. Rumbold is stricken with a case of food poisoning, Mrs. Slocombe realizes her long-held ambition of being promoted (in this case, to department head in Rumbold's place). The jealous staff (with the exception of the obsequious Mr. Humphries) resent her ascendancy, and she is soon pining for her old position.

Déjà Vu

In 1976's "Forward Mr. Grainger", the Men's Wear senior salesman takes over for Mr. Rumbold while the latter is away taking a management course and also provokes resentment among his co-workers.
Trivia: YMG's Notes on His Loyal Staff Best Bits: Bons Mots: Mrs. Slocombe admits to Mr. Humphries that she misses the shop floor and wants her old position back; also, she'll be expelled from the union if she spends two weeks in management. [Where's union firebrand Mr. Mash when you need him?] Meanwhile, Miss Brahms is setting sales records in Ladies' Wear. Rumbold calls from his sickbed to warn Mrs. Slocombe about the meringues left in his office—the cause of his food poisoning. Mrs. Slocombe had already eaten the meringues, and shortly after the phone call she has to be carried out on a stretcher. She will happily return to her usual position behind the counter after her recovery: "Me tummy's in turmoil, but me mind's at peace."


"Mrs. Slocombe, Senior Person" is somewhat of a mixed bag, but it does provide a showcase for the assertive side of Mrs. Slocombe (bet you didn't know she had one), plus the rare sight of Mr. Humphries clashing with his fellow workers.

The Hero

The WWF comes to Grace Brothers, in a way—Captain Peacock is called on to defend the department's honor against Mr. Franco of the Sports Department. Peacock's cowardly tendencies win out, and Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocombe have to save the day.

Best Bits:

Bons Mots: Before Mr. Franco can demonstrate any more exotic wrestling moves (such as the "Patagonian nose hold") on Mr. Humphries, Mrs. Slocombe barges into the ring and knocks Mr. Franco out cold.


A "knock-out" ending—but could Mrs. Slocombe beat Hulk Hogan?

Anything You Can Do

The staff of Grace Brothers' notorious canteen go on strike after complaints about the (lack of) service, so Ladies' and Men's Wear take up the slack.


First episode to feature Doremy Vernon as ill-tempered Canteen Manageress Mrs. Diana Yardswick (Vernon had previously appeared as a cook in "The Father Christmas Affair" and as a waitress in "Christmas Crackers" and "Happy Returns.")
A portion of "Anything You Can Do" seems to have been abruptly cut out (between the scene with Young Mr. Grace and the segment with the staff working to music).
Tacky Bit:
The frog emerging from Young Mr. Grace's mock turtle soup…not a pretty sight.

Dish consisting of meat baked in batter.
Bubble and squeak
Meat (usually beef) and greens (usually cabbage) fried together.
Washing dishes.

Best Bits:

Bons Mots: The excellent lunches prepared by the substitute staff are widely praised, but the canteen runs a loss of £8.45 in just one day. The staff throw in the (tea) towel and write out an apology to the canteen's regular staff, including "that cow of a manageress."


Good introduction to the fiery Mrs. Yardswick, but otherwise a bit flat.

The Agent

Mr. Goldberg starts running an employment agency on the side to supplement his miniscule wages, and the chronically underpaid Grace Brothers staff eagerly make use of his services.


Best Bits: Bons Mots: Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocombe are offered new contracts to stay at Grace Brothers. Mr. Goldberg tries to hold them to their agreement with him, but they tear it up and dare him to sue them. Mrs. Slocombe goes off to celebrate, and Mr. Humphries goes off to pitch some woo.


Slow start, but a few amusing moments (if one overlooks the Indian and Jewish stereotyping).

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