Friday, September 7, 2007

Are You Being Served?

I'm not sure why, but the old British sitcom "You Being Served?" popped into my head last night and prompted this post. Are You Being Served? was a popular Brit-com that ran on the BBC from 1972 to 1985. The story was set in the men's and women's department of a fictional London store called Grace Brothers. It was one of my favorite comedies, and continues to enjoy popularity to this day in the US on PBS and BBC America, despite it's dated story and style of humor.

I copied the following information from our friends at Wikipedia. Are You Being Served? featured mostly obvious humour based on sexual innuendo, misunderstandings, and mistaken identity, as well as sight gags generated by outrageous costumes the characters sometimes wore for store promotions, and gaudy store displays frequently featuring malfunctioning robotic mannequins. The show is well remembered for its prolific use of double entendres. Many jokes also confronted the English class system - especially those built into the interaction between maintenance men Mr Mash or Mr Harman and the ostensibly higher class store personnel. Characters traded-on such stereotypes as the effeminate Mr Humphries, who lived with his mother; Captain Peacock, the haughty floorwalker and the snobbish and boisterous Mrs Slocombe of the ever-changing hair colour. The show spawned the catch phrase "Are you free?", usually said by Captain Peacock to the staff; more often than not, the staff are noticeably free, and each would look solemnly from side to side before saying, "Yes I'm free, Captain Peacock." Mr Humphries often trilled "I'm free!" which became his own personal catchphrase throughout the series.

During its run, the series attracted some mild criticism for its reliance on sexual stereotypes and sexual double entendres, including jokes about Mrs Slocombe's "pussy" (cat). John Inman's camp portrayal of Mr Humphries as an effeminate gay man was supposedly offensive to some gay men, but the character quickly developed a cult gay following.


Above: Captain Peacock & Mrs Solcombe

Above: Miss Shirley Brahms & Mr Humphries

Above: "Young" Mr Grace, the rich, eccentric, sometimes dirty old man who owned Grace Brothers department store.
Here is a great clip of the show:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlCr6KsDYbw

Check back tomorrow for a special edition of "The Saturday Seven" and my Birthday Extravaganza post!

13 comments:

Scott said...

The Brit comedies are the best!

MONA said...

Hello Rick,

Got your birthday wishes a day in advance at my blog as I wanted ti put up a flash 55 along too.

Wish you Many happy returns of the Day & hope you have a beautiful day tomorrow! :)

Ben Wu said...

I really struggle with British sitcoms like this. I did enjoy the British version (the original) of "The Office", however.

karma lennon said...

Omg-I used to freakin' love this show in college!!!! Every Saturday night I watched this...and I think "Ab Fab". Sigh...I miss "Ab Fab"-did you hear about French and Saunders new show?

marlupe said...

I used to love this show too...always kept me rolling on the floor. I loved Mrs Slocom's lines about her cat like this one: "If I'm not home at the stroke o 6 my pussy goes wild!" funny show rick.

Lewis said...

My favorites:
1. Keeping Up Appearances
2. Are You Being Served?
3. As Time Goes By
4. Last of the Summer Wine
5. The Thin Blue Line

Lucy said...

British humor is difficult to pindown. I get it, but to duplicate it, if you're not British, is difficult.

I'm a standup comedienne blogging her way to stardom. Please feel free to stop by and make your mark! Insightful comments are always appreciated.

Nice coming across your blog!

Stephen Rader said...

I love this show!!!

I remember a Mrs. Slocombe "pussy" joke. They were all stuck at the store for some reason and Mrs. Slocombe called a neighbor and said...

"Go over to my door and look in my mail slot and if you see my pussy, DROP A SARDINE IN!"

Heaven. Sheer heaven!

David said...

I still find myself quoting this show after all these years, At work saying "Youre all doing very well" and if ever anyone hands me money for some reason I hold it up and say "£10 Miss brahms"

MONA said...

I love British Commedies, specially the carry on series! :D

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU RICK!

Charles said...

Here's wishing you a Happy Birthday!

Mo said...

I loved to go up to people when I worked in big box retail and say "Are you being served?"
Great show - Mrs. Slocombe & Mr. Humphries are classic tv icons!

Canadian flake said...

I see shows now from that era and I can't help but say "what were they thinking"..lmao.

Guess that is because I am getting so old..lmao.

Thanks for sharing the memories.

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