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Old 11-04-2011, 09:25 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Mrs. Slocome's Pussy (The Are You Being Served? thread)

I knew I had become my mother when I started watching--and enjoying--Are You Being Served? The combination of over-the-top music-hall acting and over-the-top music-hall writing is irresistible.

My favorite, of course, is Mollie Sudgen as the rainbow-coiffed pantomime dame Mrs. Slocombe: someone has compiled a collection of her pussy's greatest moments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRJlItzalJY

Any other fans, or am I not unanimous in this?
  #2  
Old 11-04-2011, 09:32 PM
Skywatcher Skywatcher is offline
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The clockwork mouse was a good bit.
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Old 11-04-2011, 09:39 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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It's cheesy, badly dated, and chock full of racism, sexism, & homophobia. I've loved it since I was a kid and saw it on PBS.
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:58 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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I actually met a woman once who was one of Mollie Sugden's bridesmaids.
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Old 11-05-2011, 04:00 AM
Isamu Isamu is offline
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Believe it or not I was just thinking about Mrs. Slocome's Pussy last Wednesday, as it was unexpectedly raining out, and I wondered how the weather was playing havoc with people's pussies.

My whole family watched this show together since I was young enough to remember; me, my father, my mother, someone else and 4 other siblings too many. I didn't get the 'pussy' jokes at the time, only later, in retrospect did it hit. But I still enjoyed the show.

The funny thing is that my mother, a cat person who has always had at least one cat in her home, still to this day refers to them as her pussies. "Oh my little pussy is so wet!"

Maybe she didn't get the jokes either?
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Old 11-05-2011, 07:44 AM
Eve Eve is offline
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I am tempted to shave my head someday and get a different "Madame Beryl" wig for every day of the week. My favorite is her pinkish-orange Creamsicle one.

I love how the "young, sexy" members of Grace Bros. (Mr. Lucas and Miss Brahm) are middle-aged and podgy-looking. Never find that in an American show, where even the grannies have to look like Sports Illustrated pin-ups!
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Old 11-05-2011, 08:32 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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I have never understood how this show, which was horribly dated and cliched when it first appeared in Britain, acquired such a cult following in America. It makes me embarrassed to be British. Is the cult mainly a gay thing? I suppose that is possible. The show is very camp in the sense of reveling in its artificiality, and Mr Humphries, though a dreadful stereotype, is the nearest thing the show has to a likable or admirable character.
  #8  
Old 11-05-2011, 08:40 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Ho ho ho little boy, have I got a surprise for you!

Don't you miss the days when pedophile jokes were funny?
  #9  
Old 11-05-2011, 11:27 AM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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Yes, it's all of the negative things that have been brought up here. It's old, horribly dated, and reflects badly on its time. However, it will always have a place in my heart, simply because it was my gateway into Anglophilia. I must have watched every episode many times over when I was a youth, which lead me to greater things: Red Dwarf, Black Adder, Monty Python. It's an obsession I still have, and I have AYBS to thank for it.
  #10  
Old 11-05-2011, 12:49 PM
nudgenudge nudgenudge is offline
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I have never understood how this show, which was horribly dated and cliched when it first appeared in Britain, acquired such a cult following in America. It makes me embarrassed to be British. Is the cult mainly a gay thing? I suppose that is possible. The show is very camp in the sense of reveling in its artificiality, and Mr Humphries, though a dreadful stereotype, is the nearest thing the show has to a likable or admirable character.
I wouldn't go that far, myself. I remember as a kid, when Are You Being Served was a staple of the BBC schedule, I absolutely hated it. It was the worst example of that whole family of "you have been watching" sitcoms. But, on the rare occasions that I see it these days, it seems a bit funnier than I remember. Some of the actors are pretty good - I think Frank Thornton's perfomance is great, and actually quite subtle.
They do do that old-fashioned stagy thing of all standing in a line and directing their lines out towards the audience, though, don't they?
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Old 11-05-2011, 03:29 PM
Antinor01 Antinor01 is offline
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Walk this way! I love the show, haven't seen it for years though.
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Old 11-05-2011, 04:02 PM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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I watched Are You Being Served every night on PBS at 10:30 pm for years.

My favorite episode is the one where they stay over night in the store in the camping department.

Loved the befuddled Mr. Grainger the best.
  #13  
Old 11-05-2011, 04:09 PM
emcee2k emcee2k is offline
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I remember the first time I saw this show as a kid it was dirtiest thing I'd ever seen on TV. I think the first scene I saw involved a man dropping a piece of chalk down a woman's pants and then digging around in there trying to retrieve it. I honestly thought I would get in trouble if I was caught watching it.

Come to find out my mom loved the show, and grandma actually had every episode recorded on VHS. No one seemed care that I watched it, or even seemed to notice what to my child mind was late night Cinemax level smut.
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Old 11-05-2011, 05:18 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Ho ho ho little boy, have I got a surprise for you!

Don't you miss the days when pedophile jokes were funny?
OK, that is never not funny. They run it every Friday night at 9:30 on a local channel here and I never miss it.

I think it is partly a camp thing, and partly an old-lady thing. All my friends' mothers loved that show, and now that I am my mother's age (!) so do I. And I agree that, along with the shameless awfulness of the jokes, some of the performers (notably Mollie Sugden, John Inman and Frank Thornton) are great comic talents.

I love their WWII memories, like Mrs. Slocombe meeting the nicest Yank soldier during the Blitz: "'E threw me on me back and said, 'Look out, Betty, 'ere comes a big one!" [Raised eyebrow on part of Mr. Humphries]

It's also notable that as cringe-making a stereotype Mr. Humphries was, he was an open, sexually active and happy gay character who is accepted by his coworkers!
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Old 11-05-2011, 06:06 PM
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I love AYBS! I will admit that occasionally the blatant racism (like the Sultan trying to trade pretty women in veils in exchange for pants) will catch me a little off guard, but otherwise there is nothing about the show that I don't love. I'm a big fan of Brit-coms in general but Are You Being Served will always be one of my favorites.
  #16  
Old 11-05-2011, 08:49 PM
congodwarf congodwarf is offline
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Absolutely love it! My boyfriend and I recently finished watching every episode of AYBS and Grace and Favour. We own the movie but haven't watched it recently. It never stops being funny, no matter how many times I watch it - much like Red Dwarf.
  #17  
Old 11-06-2011, 01:39 AM
Eyebrows 0f Doom Eyebrows 0f Doom is offline
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I used to always stay up late to watch this show on PBS when I was a kid! I loved it, I thought it was so funny. My favorite characters were Mr. Humphries & Mr Lucas (who I just now found out died in April of this year. ). I even remember watching some movies they made of it, something about them all going on holiday to a resort? Hmm, does anyone else remember that? I can't find a mention of it on the Wikipedia episode list. It was 90 minutes or two hours and took place in a hotel...

Ah, found it.


I can still hear the theme song, I haven't thought of that in years!

Last edited by Eyebrows 0f Doom; 11-06-2011 at 01:42 AM.
  #18  
Old 11-06-2011, 01:04 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Trivia: John Inman is a prime example of why British gays don't want to marry and not just have a commitment ceremony or leave it to the individual regions or whatever. Through frugality and good business sense he amassed a considerable fortune- estimates vary but between $5 million-$10 million in U.S.D.. He married his longtime partner as soon as it was legal (not long before his death) and bequeathed him most of his estate. Under British law his partner was able to inherit and keep the lion's share of the estate; had they NOT been married but just "longtime roomies" or whatever, under British tax laws his surviving partner would have lost millions to inheritance taxes that being a spouse he's exempt from. (Luckily the U.S. is much nicer to its 1%-ers, which is why they return the compliment by keeping the economy going wonderfully.)

Last edited by Sampiro; 11-06-2011 at 01:06 AM.
  #19  
Old 11-06-2011, 01:13 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
I have never understood how this show, which was horribly dated and cliched when it first appeared in Britain, acquired such a cult following in America. It makes me embarrassed to be British. Is the cult mainly a gay thing? I suppose that is possible. The show is very camp in the sense of reveling in its artificiality, and Mr Humphries, though a dreadful stereotype, is the nearest thing the show has to a likable or admirable character.
The thing is, American sitcoms of the day were so bloody puritanical and condescendingly shitty that anything with a twist of sexual innuendo was revered.

"All in the Family" broke some boundaries but British sitcoms were miles ahead.

"Benny Hill" was popular for the same reasons.

Speaking of which, a favourite of mine was "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin." Any other appreciators out there?
  #20  
Old 11-06-2011, 01:29 AM
SciFiSam SciFiSam is offline
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I watched Are You Being Served every night on PBS at 10:30 pm for years.

My favorite episode is the one where they stay over night in the store in the camping department.

Loved the befuddled Mr. Grainger the best.
I remember that episode! It was excellent broad farce.

I liked AYBS in the same way that I really like the Carry-Ons. I like broad farce (which phrase would produce a dirty laugh if said in AYBS) and wordplay. There's often a lot of homophobia and sexism but somehow it doesn't bother me. At least they acknowledged said homophobia and sexism and managed to create some of the best gay characters while taking the piss out of them. It's hardly ideal, but with most comedies you'd think gay people didn't exist at all.

But, since I actually am English rather than an Anglophile, I will never like Keeping Up Appearances.


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Trivia: John Inman is a prime example of why British gays don't want to marry and not just have a commitment ceremony or leave it to the individual regions or whatever. Through frugality and good business sense he amassed a considerable fortune- estimates vary but between $5 million-$10 million in U.S.D.. He married his longtime partner as soon as it was legal (not long before his death) and bequeathed him most of his estate. Under British law his partner was able to inherit and keep the lion's share of the estate; had they NOT been married but just "longtime roomies" or whatever, under British tax laws his surviving partner would have lost millions to inheritance taxes that being a spouse he's exempt from. (Luckily the U.S. is much nicer to its 1%-ers, which is why they return the compliment by keeping the economy going wonderfully.)
He's also an example of why we went for CPs with pretty much all the same rights, with more that have been gradually added over time, rather than holding out for 'marriage.'

Last edited by SciFiSam; 11-06-2011 at 01:31 AM.
  #21  
Old 11-06-2011, 11:31 AM
The_Peyote_Coyote The_Peyote_Coyote is offline
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Put me down as a fan, Eve. I think it's a pretty funny show.
  #22  
Old 11-06-2011, 11:57 AM
notthatagain notthatagain is offline
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The ex & I looked forward to it nightly - it was one of the few times my ex actually wanted to watch something on Public Television.

Patsy from Ab Fab made an appearance in two episodes - the perfume demonstration woman in season 1/episode 3 and as the German lady in the German week (Strumps anyone?) season 3/episode 6.

Miss Brahms *and* Patsy on my TV screen at the same time! Yes.
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Last edited by notthatagain; 11-06-2011 at 11:58 AM.
  #23  
Old 11-06-2011, 03:39 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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When we were children, and Mum was happy with something we'd done, she'd say "You've all done very well" and we'd respond "Thank you Mr Grace".

I went to school with one of the Grace boys from the family that founded the local department store, Grace Brothers.
  #24  
Old 11-06-2011, 03:56 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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When we were children, and Mum was happy with something we'd done, she'd say "You've all done very well" and we'd respond "Thank you Mr Grace".

I went to school with one of the Grace boys from the family that founded the local department store, Grace Brothers.
I'm watching the Australian version on Youtube right now. For apparently recycling everything from it's parent it's surprisingly good (although I doubt anyone who wasn't a big fan of the original would like it). Mr. Humphries must sure have gotten alot of deja vu; I wonder if it was ever referenced onscreen.
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Old 11-06-2011, 04:55 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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When we were children, and Mum was happy with something we'd done, she'd say "You've all done very well" and we'd respond "Thank you Mr Grace".
In the later seasons--which were pretty much awful--they replaced the old Young Mr Grace with a young actor in old-age makeup, and it was just creepy, like that dancing Zombie Swifty Lazar in the Six Flags ads.
  #26  
Old 11-06-2011, 05:11 PM
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At least they acknowledged said homophobia and sexism and managed to create some of the best gay characters while taking the piss out of them.
Yeah, a lot of the time they played it broadly, but the funniest times in AYBS were when a line was set up for, or about, Mr Humphries, but John Inman just raised an eyebrow as if to say "I see what you did there, but just this once let's just pretend I made a comeback rather than going through with it."
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:27 PM
Lord Mondegreen Lord Mondegreen is offline
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Speaking of which, a favourite of mine was "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin." Any other appreciators out there?
Absolutely. Leonard Rossiter was a superb comic actor and the Reginald Perrin scripts were great.

I'll also chime in as being an AYBS fan, but I haven't watched any episodes for about 20 years. I'm too afraid they won't live up to my memory of them.
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:39 PM
Chicken Fingers Chicken Fingers is offline
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I like the show too. One of my favorite scenes is when they think it's Mrs. Slocombe who's pregnant when she's talking about her pussy.
  #29  
Old 11-06-2011, 06:34 PM
Rhiannon8404 Rhiannon8404 is offline
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Speaking of which, a favourite of mine was "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin." Any other appreciators out there?
My dad and I both loved this show.

My grandmother was a huge fan of AYBS. I think she identified with Mrs. Slocombe.
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Old 11-06-2011, 08:30 PM
Dr. Girlfriend Dr. Girlfriend is offline
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I still love the show. My high-school composition teacher was a huge Anglophile, and he would show us episodes every now and then.
  #31  
Old 11-07-2011, 09:19 AM
Max Torque Max Torque is offline
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They started airing it on our local PBS when I was in high school, and my little circle of friends all watched it. The show entered our vernacular: one of us would call to the other, "Rob, are you free?" (significant look left) (significant look right) "At the moment."

Yes, we were colossal nerds.
  #32  
Old 11-07-2011, 09:27 AM
Eve Eve is offline
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At the train station this morning I thought of complaining to my fellow commuters that "this turnin' the clocks back is playin' havoc with my pussy," but thought the better of it.
  #33  
Old 11-07-2011, 12:35 PM
Hypno-Toad Hypno-Toad is offline
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To be honest, my favorite character was Miss Belfridge.
  #34  
Old 11-07-2011, 01:43 PM
SirRay SirRay is offline
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I love how the "young, sexy" members of Grace Bros. (Mr. Lucas and Miss Brahm) are middle-aged and podgy-looking
I have seen all the Department Store episodes (didn't like "Served Again"), and also the movie (which lifted lots of it's various sub-plots from the show, as well as I thnk the "Carry On Aboard" movie)
I just sort of chalked up the older-looking "Junior" Mr Lucas (Trevor Bannister was in his late 30s when the series began) to the rather ad-hoc senority system of Grace Brothers (which seemed to change show-to-show as needed by the plot) - his replacement, Mr Spooner (Mike Berry) did seem young enough to be a "Junior", although I never thought his character was as funny as Bannister's Mr Lucas.
As for Ms Brahms, she looked reasonable like a Junior at the begining (1972 pilot - in glorious Black and White), but at the series end in 1985 it was hard to see her as anything but the mid-40s woman she was by then, even with Mr Spooner making remarks about her at the disco getting all the young mens attention (well, she did learn in Catford, she did). From what I have read, Wendy Richard in the 1960s bit of a "goer", as apparently she was not afraid to display her sweater puppies for photographers- wonder if that helped her get the part of Ms Brahms?
  #35  
Old 11-07-2011, 02:02 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Highest praise I know possible for a British TV show:

In an episode of Doctor Who, while stepping off an elevator, the Doctor quips, "First floor, perfumery."
  #36  
Old 11-07-2011, 02:55 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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It's also notable that as cringe-making a stereotype Mr. Humphries was, he was an open, sexually active and happy gay character who is accepted by his coworkers!
Maybe I missed it, but it has always been my impression that they scrupulously avoided and suggestion of Mr Humphries ever having any sort of sexual or dating relationship. I agree that he is (at least compared to the other characters) a pretty positive presentation of a gay character, but British shows (most notably Round The Horne on the radio - a vastly superior show IMHO) had been doing gay characters like this for years before AYBS first aired.

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Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
The thing is, American sitcoms of the day were so bloody puritanical and condescendingly shitty that anything with a twist of sexual innuendo was revered.

"All in the Family" broke some boundaries but British sitcoms were miles ahead.

"Benny Hill" was popular for the same reasons.

Speaking of which, a favourite of mine was "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin." Any other appreciators out there?
Maybe that is so in America, but AYBS was not in the least groundbreaking in Britain, and there are other (earlier and later) British shows in something like the same vein (often with the same or overlapping writers and producers) that are vastly superior, but apparently little known in America. It seems the love for it stems from when it first became available in America, but it is a mystery to why U.S. stations would originally have decided to air this rather than one of its many, superior, competitors.

Reginald Perrin and Benny Hill were both very different sorts of shows, but also both vastly superior to AYBS (and Benny was doing his thing long before AYBS appeared).

Of course, as you probably know, "All in the Family" was also based on a British show "Till Death Us Do Part." I was never, personally, a great fan of "Till Death," but it was groundbreaking and edgy even when it first appeared in Britain. AYBS, which debuted several years later, was not groundbreaking or edgy at all. To me (and, frankly, I think to most British people) it is almost the bottom of the barrel of British comedy. When I see it played in America I cringe to think that many Americans will think this is what British humor (or, God help us, Britain) is really like.
  #37  
Old 11-07-2011, 03:06 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Maybe I missed it, but it has always been my impression that they scrupulously avoided and suggestion of Mr Humphries ever having any sort of sexual or dating relationship.
Oh no, they frequently have him just come back from weekends with a "friend," or going to gay bars, or spending time with a "sailor," and warning his mother over the phone that a man will be calling on him . . . 'E was gettin' more than Mr. Lucas!

One of the later shows that annoyed me had Mrs. Slocombe suddenly falling in love with Mr. Humphries and thinking he was going to propose, which totally negated the earlier seasons, when she was nobody's fool and knew full we "'e was a little light in the loafers."
  #38  
Old 11-07-2011, 03:22 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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... When I see it played in America I cringe to think that many Americans will think this is what British humor (or, God help us, Britain) is really like.
I'm pretty sure we knew it was just a sitcom.

Although I have wondered over the years what the Germans must have thought of Hogan's Heroes.
  #39  
Old 11-07-2011, 04:20 PM
nudgenudge nudgenudge is offline
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Maybe that is so in America, but AYBS was not in the least groundbreaking in Britain, and there are other (earlier and later) British shows in something like the same vein (often with the same or overlapping writers and producers) that are vastly superior, but apparently little known in America. It seems the love for it stems from when it first became available in America, but it is a mystery to why U.S. stations would originally have decided to air this rather than one of its many, superior, competitors.
It's probably a fair point that, from the point of view of a British viewer, AYBS was not particularly noteworthy. Whereas, it seems from the comments here that that kind of bawdy British music hall comedy was something of a novelty to viewers elsewhere. That said, it was one of the top-rated shows in Britain for several years. I've actually been watching a couple of the early episodes on YouTube, because of this thread, and it is indeed better than I remembered. I've actually laughed out loud a few times . It's really quite similar to Dad's Army, and that show is considered a classic.
  #40  
Old 11-07-2011, 04:28 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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They never should have done the series where the group is trying to manage a B&B farm. Any idea why they didn't just write another series at Grace Brothers?

I remember seeing Frank Thornton (Captain Peacock) listed in the credits of Gosford Park and trying to spot him. I had to rewatch various scenes a couple of times. He plays Maggie Smith's umbrella toting butler and the entirety of his scene lasts less than 1 minute (beginning 1:10) during which he was on camera for less than half that, has a couple of lines and no closeups.
I've wondered why a name actor who had two hit series (AYBS and Last of the Summer Wine) and quite a few stage and screen credits would even have been interested in such a bit part. I doubt it paid much, but I suppose it was a day out of the house and paid at least enough for a nice dinner for him and Mrs. Thornton or whatever.
  #41  
Old 11-07-2011, 07:43 PM
Skywatcher Skywatcher is offline
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They never should have done the series where the group is trying to manage a B&B farm. Any idea why they didn't just write another series at Grace Brothers?
Word is Lloyd & Croft felt that there were no more interesting plots in store.
  #42  
Old 08-25-2012, 05:54 PM
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I'm pretty sure we knew it was just a sitcom.

Although I have wondered over the years what the Germans must have thought of Hogan's Heroes.
A German friend living in North America, born during the war, told me once that she loved Hogan's Heroes and did not see why she should take offence. She was surprised to learn that to many people who grew up with the show, Klink and Schultz represented typical Germans. The racial stereotyping in Are You Being Served (a show I love, notwithstanding) probably seemed harmless enough at the time, but it was unworthy of the show and its actors.
  #43  
Old 08-25-2012, 06:15 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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How appropriate. A zombie thread for this zombie of a show that continues to eat the brains of PBS viewers long, long after it mercifully died in its native land.

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It's really quite similar to Dad's Army, and that show is considered a classic.
Yes, they from the same genre (and with one of the same writers). The difference is that Dad's Army was actually very good. It was perhaps the best example of the genre; AYBS was close to being the worst. But how often is Dad's Army shown on PBS? Never as far as I am aware, yet AYBS is on constantly.
  #44  
Old 08-25-2012, 07:50 PM
Beware of Doug Beware of Doug is offline
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It's probably a fair point that, from the point of view of a British viewer, AYBS was not particularly noteworthy.
Yeah, having grown up on Python and other British fare, I never considered AYBS any more than a snappy, cheeky comedy. Certainly not great artistic TV, and definitely not a specialty gay interest, even though John Inman got first billing and Mr. Humphries was obviously the sharpest salesman on Grace Bros' staff.

Then again, you never know how one culture will reposition and repurpose what comes from another culture, loading it up with new significance. I'd been listening to 1920s and 30s pop music for years before it dawned on me that its single biggest fan base was gay men.

Last edited by Beware of Doug; 08-25-2012 at 07:53 PM.
  #45  
Old 08-25-2012, 08:21 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lute Skywatcher View Post
Word is Lloyd & Croft felt that there were no more interesting plots in store.
(ignoring the pun) Are You Being Served had PLOTS?
  #46  
Old 08-25-2012, 08:31 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaboi867 View Post
It's cheesy, badly dated, and chock full of racism, sexism, & homophobia. I've loved it since I was a kid and saw it on PBS.
I loved it.

I first started watching Dr Who in about 1974, the PBS station in Rochester probably did some sort of broadcast upgrade as we had not previously been able to get the channel. Shortly after that I also started watching Monty Python, The Goodies, The Pursuaders, To the Manor Born, Butterflies, Space 1999, Supernatural and another SF one I am pretty sure was not an animation/puppet one but I can't seem to find anything that sounds familiar online. After I got netflix instant access a couple years ago I watched all of Red Dwarf, and thought it hysterically funny.
  #47  
Old 08-26-2012, 01:27 PM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is offline
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I enjoyed this show too. My favorite episode was the one in which they were helping in the toy department. (Maybe it was around Christmas.) Mr. Grainger was doing a terrific job. Someone said, "I thought he didn't like children." Someone else answered, "Oh, he doesn't, but he loves toy trains!" I thought of that when I was watching the Doctor selling toys in the "Closing Time" episode on Doctor Who. Actually, Eleven might've fit right in on AYBS.
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