Monday, April 8, 2013

Grace Brothers

I’ve been a bad A-Z blogger the past few days, missing both E and F and not following up on comments, but in my defense, I’ve been busy with every single minute of my day getting soaked up by one task after another.  Hopefully this week will be a little calmer.

I struggled with the letter G. I couldn’t come up with any good G words off the top of my head, or G themed ideas. Then I dug through my DVD collection and spotted my Are You Being Served dvd’s. Inspiration struck.

BBC aired the show during the 70’s and early 80’s. Like most Americans, I fell in love with the show when PBS aired it. A few years ago I was delighted to find Amazon selling the entire collection.
The show was brilliant in its simplicity. With only a few exceptions (I can only think of one) the cast never left the property of Grace Brothers, the department store they worked for.

The store was run by Young Mr. Grace (Harold Bennet),                         
The amazing Young Mr. Grace. It was often said that old Mr. Grace doesn't get around much anymore.

and was a dated establishment with questionable business practices It was a depressing place. The wages were subpar, the management was horrible, and the working conditions were often undesirable. In other words, the perfect setting for a comedy. As an adult who writes, the show has taught be how important a good simple setting can be, especially when it comes to comedy. 

Grace Brothers was constantly looking for new ways to promote product but refused to spend much money. As a result display models were constantly blowing up or making lewd gestures. The products were cheap and poorly made, but the staff was desperate for commissions so they came up with creative ways to convince customers to make purchases and for refusing to accept returns.

Desperation for more money also led to some fun side jobs that never quite panned out.
Some of the best episodes involved the staff members (incredibly talented actors who shared an amazing chemistry, and who clearly loved what they were doing) doing something humiliating, unusually to help promote the store. Although the gimmicks never worked, they never fail to make me laugh, especially if Mrs. Slocomb was into the booze.

Years after Are You Being Served ended, the BBC brought the cast back together, this time setting the show on a English farm which was the only thing left of the Grace Brothers pension fun. 

If you’ve never had the chance to watch Are You Being Served, I urge you to add it to your NetFlix cue, you won’t be disappointed.  

This clips comes from the “Grace Brother’s German Week” episode, when the crew was trying to promote the German products they were being forced to sell.


  1. I used to love watching this programme. I had no idea that it would have worked as a format in the US... far too British - obviously not!

    1. PBS used to run (and might still, I'm not sure) devote an entire night to British comedies. Most of the people I know looked forward to them. The network even had some of the original cast members do special presentations. As a child, I knew the shows were funny, but now that I'm an adult, I recognize the genius of the jokes. The innuendo's are fantastic.

  2. I've never heard of the show, but looks funny. I have to check it out. :)

  3. A great show...I've never watched it regularly, but always enjoyed it when I did.

    Left and Write

  4. Fun show, wasn't it? If you are bad with the Challenge, I am criminal: I am going backwards. Today is my T day: Trickster (Coyote actually where he gains wisdom and loses his tail -- a pretty woman is involved, of course!) Love your header, Roland

  5. New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to visiting again.


  6. I've never heard of that, but it sounds hilarious! It's amazing how popular so many BBC miniseries have become in the US. :)

    Don't give up on the can do it! :)

    Jaimie at Living in the Light
    A to Z Challenge Ambassador

  7. Favourite show. I remember seeing the first airing and literally snorting tea at how close to the knuckle they got with some of the jokes. Mrs Slocomb's pussy! "I'm free" was a catch phrase all through the 70s. Happy memories.

  8. "a dated establishment with questionable business practices It was a depressing place. The wages were subpar, the management was horrible, and the working conditions were often undesirable." But this is exactly what a department store like this was like in the 1960s and 70s in the UK. And in 1976 when I first hit New York, Macy's (Or was it Bloomingdales) wasn't so different either!
    Double entendre is the life-blood of British comedy - then and now - the ruder the better.
    Happy memories!

    Happy Ato Z-ing
    Jemima at Jemima's blog

  9. This show seems like it's hilarious! Will have to look up on my roku. Thanks for sharing!

    Chontali Kirk