Running from 8 September 1972 to 1 April 1985
Key Cast List:
|Mollie Sugden||Mrs. Betty Slocombe|
|John Inman||Mr. Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries|
|Frank Thornton||Captain Stephen Peacock|
|Wendy Richard||Miss Shirley Brahms|
|Nicholas Smith||Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold|
|Trevor Bannister||Mr. Dick Lucas|
|Arthur English||Mr. Beverley Harman|
|Harold Bennett||Young Mr. Grace|
|Arthur Brough||Mr. Ernest Grainger|
WRITER DAVID CROFT TOOK THE nation by storm once again, creating yet another all-time classic sitcom. Following his success of writing ‘Dad’s Army’ he co-wrote ‘Are You Being Served?’
From a young age I often found myself watching the hit-sitcom in the company of my Nan. Following a Sunday morning church service, I would have dinner and in the lead up to one-o’clock, without fail, my Nan would turn the TV on.Whilst doing my famous Tom & Jerry puzzle, my ears would prick up when I heard the theme tune. The theme consisted of a voice-over from a lift girl announcing each floor with the sounds of a cash register in the background.
It was that time of the week again where the house came to a standstill and 30 minutes of laughter would commence. The sitcom represents and means a lot to me as it’s my first proper childhood memories of me and my Nan.
Many comedy moments were created around the costumes on the shop floor. The characters wore a variety of costumes in order to promote them for store promotions. Also terrible store displays were the center of laughter focusing on broken dummies with the sitcom featuring many double entendres.
The main focus of humor in the show was the portrayal of the British class system, mainly evident between the maintenance men and the seemingly higher-class shop-floor staff. The show very rarely left the store and to mock the class system the characters called each other by their proper titles such as Mr., Mrs., Miss or even Captain. They hardly ever addresses each other by first names, if they did it was for comical effect.
Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold was a very easily confused and fussy department manager. On the shop-floor leading the pack was Captain Peacock, who was very self-important. He would welcome the shoppers to his floor asking them “are you being served?” then asking his staff “are you free?”
Ladies fashion was led by Mrs Slocombe who was renowned for changing her hair colour every week and always spoke of her “pussy” which was in fact her coat. Her assistant was Miss who was victim to many bottom-pinching antics.
My favourite character in the sitcom was Mr Humphries who was senior assistant in the menswear department. His character portrayal was very camp who always spoke in a high pitch voice, which is evident when he answers the phone. He was labelled a ‘mummy’s boy’ and became a household name for his catchphrase of “I’m free”.
As one of the stars of the show, Mr Humphries was in my favourite moment of all time. The episode ‘Conduct Unbecoming’ saw him being accused of stealing money from his departments till and when he is found innocent, Mr Rumbold’s lovely attractive blonde secretary gives him a big hug and a passionate kiss. Mr. Humphries quickly replies (in his camp voice) that if the kiss had lasted any longer he would have ‘gone over to your side’.
The show was extremely popular with the public, a family favourite; it attracted over 20 million viewers consistently. When it came to an end in 1985 I believed it was the best time for them to stop as it was past its best. However writers Croft and Perry produced a spin-off series Grace and Favour.
Written by Jeremy Lloyd, David Croft with contributions from Michael Knowles and John Chapman
Broadcast on BBC 1
Link to fan sites: