Episode Reviews Part 13

Monkey Business

This episode, which manages to recycle several themes from previous shows (winter weather problems, takeover threats, denied pay rises, staff members trying to get themselves fired), has something to amuse and/or offend almost everyone—Japanese stereotypes, an escaped "monkey" roaming the store, a visit to Thatcher-era No. 10 Downing Street, and a chat with Ronald Reagan.


When Mr. Harman gets a glimpse of Miss Belfridge's knickers after Mr. Rumbold turns on the office heater/blower, Arthur English (Harman) exclaims, "You've just made a happy man feel very old." Since this statement doesn't make very much sense at all, perhaps English mistakenly transposed a couple of words in the script's original line.
Best Bits: Bons Mots: After the escaped monkey finds its way into Rumbold's office, the two Japanese representatives (who had insisted on seeing the management) get a banana in the ear. Suitably insulted, they drop plans to take over Grace Brothers and receive a "British worker's farewell" from the staff.


Other than the Downing Street segment, a subpar episode.

Lost and Found

Mrs. Slocombe's pussy comes up missing, and only Mr. Humphries can replace her…but does he want to?


Best Bits: Bons Mots: During the reception in Rumbold's office, Mrs. Slocombe's good friend Mrs. Axelby calls with astonishing news—Tiddles has been found with her six newborn kittens, fathered by none other than Emperor Chung of Bangkok. [Incidentally, Tiddles earlier had kittens in "Mrs. Slocombe Expects."] To everyone's relief, the marriage is called off.


Amusing little story, especially the comic interaction between Mrs. Slocombe and Mr. Humphries.

Series Ten (1985)

Or "Goodbye AYBS?", as the venerable sitcom entered its final season. For some, the show's end couldn't have come soon enough ("Are You Being Served? ranks as one of the all-time TV turkeys," Daily Express, 2 April 1985), while other commentators looked wistfully on the show's departure. Are You Being Served? had certainly come a long way from the stopgap Comedy Playhouse episode aired after the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics led to the suspension of the Games for several days. In its 12 years on the BBC, AYBS? provided Britons with a dependable source of fun and levity, and repeats of the show have continued to entertain audiences worldwide.

Goodbye Mrs. Slocombe

After taking 2 weeks off and spending 3 days in hospital for treatment of a "ladies' problem" (actually an ingrown toenail), Mrs. Slocombe returns to her duties at Grace Brothers, only to find she's been made redundant because of her age. The stalwart head of Ladies' Intimate Apparel is replaced by the remarkable (and remarkably irritating) Miss Featherstone.


First episode with animated "lift" opening title sequence; also, the font used in the credits is finally altered after 13 years (counting Comedy Playhouse).
Déjà Vu:
Haven't we already had "Goodbye Mr. Grainger"? Would "Goodbye Lift Girls" have been next?
Trivia: Best Bits: Bons Mots: Relieved to be rid of Miss Featherstone, Rumbold declares Mrs. Slocombe to be indispensable and reinstates her as head of Ladies' Wear. He and Peacock are the next to be made redundant because of age and are reduced to serving as lift operator and cleaner.


More action than clever lines. Some amusing moments, but perhaps AYBS? was finally beginning to show its age.

Grounds for Divorce

Captain and Mrs. Peacock in costumeNot only is Captain Peacock accused of having an extramarital affair (what else is new?), he must also take rather drastic and colorful (or, shall we say, "Humphriesesque") steps to frighten off his former amour, Miss Edna Bagnold from Accounts.


First appearance of Diana Lambert as Mrs. Peacock, replacing Diana King.
Déjà Vu:
The designer eyewear display, "inspired" by 1978's "'Do You Take This Man?'"
Trivia: Best Bits: Bons Mots: The Peacocks generously give two tickets to the party to Mr. Humphries (who immediately dons "a little number" he's been dying to wear) and a top-hatted Mrs. Slocombe. Mr. Humphries gets the last word: "Thank goodness we're all back to normal!"


Of the two Mrs. Peacocks, shrill-voiced Diana King made a much better wife/tormentor than Diana Lambert. The scene with Mrs. Slocombe and Captain Peacock in the fitting room was quite funny, but do we really need to see Frank Thornton in drag?

The Hold Up

Or "The Gumby Gang Rides Again," as burglars break in during a night of stocktaking and "Pa Gumby" (Mr. Harman), "Mad Ma Gumby" (Mrs. Slocombe) and their crazy (step)son "Italian Tony, The Tooting Terror" (Mr. Humphries, playing against type once again) must save the day.


Best Bits [Actually, the entire show is one long, zany bit, so choosing the best parts was somewhat difficult.]: Bons Mots: Mr. Rumbold, who thought the staff's telephone calls for help were part of a stocktaking-night practical joke, arrives at the store with the police. After the police leave with the Gumby Gang in tow, Rumbold is surprised by the real burglars.


In an odd way, "The Hold Up" could be considered both a "dress-up" episode and a broad farce. Mr. Humphries' effectiveness as "Italian Tony, The Tooting Terror" is rather limited, however.

Gambling Fever

It's "déjà vu all over again" in this revamp of "Big Brother" and "Closed Circuit" (even the closed circuit TV system is nicknamed "Big Brother" in this episode). In the midst of a heat wave, Grace Brothers management installs not an air conditioning system but rather CCTV equipment to help nab shoplifters. Thanks to Mr. Harman's influence, the staff put the new equipment to use in quite a different manner than was intended.


First episode with Seymour (Keith Hodiak), Mr. Harman's assistant and the only black character to appear regularly in AYBS?.
Miss Brahms asserts that she and Mrs. Slocombe have been at Grace Brothers longer than Mr. Humphries; the pilot episode (1972) states that Mr. Humphries has been with the firm for 10 years, and several episodes imply that Miss Brahms has not been with Grace Brothers for very long. (In "The Old Order Changes" [1977], for instance, Miss Brahms has been with the firm only 4 years.)
Best Bits: Bons Mots: Unsatisfied with their winnings on "Inside Leg", the greedy staff place the money they've won on "King of the Fairies".


Pretty good in spite of the recycled theme.

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