Are You Being Served?
|This awesome comedy takes place in the fictional Grace Brothers Department Store, of which we usually only see the Ladies' Department and the Gents' Ready-Made Department. Amid the day-to-day rush of serving customers and improving business, we the audience get to see how all the staff relate (or don't relate) to each other, and the crazy hijinks they all get up to.|
- Young Mr. Grace, owner (first half of show's run)
- Old Mr. Grace, owner (second half of show's run)
- Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold, store manager
- Captain Stephen Peacock, floor walker
Ladies' Department Staff
- Mrs. Betty Slocombe, head of Ladies' Department
- Miss Shirley Brahms, Ladies' Department assistant
Gentlemen's Department Heads
- Mr. Ernest Grainger (first half of show's run)
- Mr. Percival Tebbs (3rd quarter of show's run)
- Mr. Grossman (half of 4th quarter of show's run)
- Mr. Klein (a few episodes toward the end of show's run)
Gentlemen's Department Staff
- Mr. Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries, first assistant
- Mr. Dick Lucas, second assistant (first half of show)
- Mr. Bert Spooner, second assistant (second half of show)
- Mr. Mash, store set-up crew head (first half of show)
- Mr. Harman, store set-up crew head (second half of show)
Show Dynamics (Spoilers)
Captain Peacock is always a little tempted by Miss Brahms, but never really makes a move on her.
It seems unclear to the rest of the staff what kind of lifestyle Mr. Humphries leads (but it’s pretty clear to the audience).
The doughty Mrs. Slocombe is usually the one who goes to bat for everyone else, and is not afraid to look stupid while doing it.
Mrs. Slocombe, as head of the women’s department, usually butts heads with the head of the men’s department, but this fades into the background as the seasons go on. Mr. Grainger and she, however, have a legendary rivalry going.
Mr. Humphries provides a lot of the puns and under-the-radar humor; the junior assistant (Mr. Lucas in the first half of the series and Mr. Spooner in the last half) generally provides more of the slapstick or more obvious humor.
Miss Brahms, as the younger of the two women on the ladies’ department, has more “comedy of ignorance” lines, while Mrs. Slocombe gets the “comedy of experience” lines.
Mrs. Slocombe seems to have a pretty crazy second life outside the shop, going out to bars with her friend Mrs. Axelby (never seen). You almost get the feeling she’s embellishing a little to make her life seem more interesting.
Also, Mrs. Slocombe generally gets to play mother to the rest of the staff when things go wrong.
Why the Shuffle of Leaders in the Gentlemen's Department After Grainger?
After Mr. Grainger retires, about halfway through the show's run, several more "senior staff" men come in to act as Head of Gentlemen's Department, as evidenced by the Major Characters list above. This was primarily because Arthur Brough, the actor who portrayed Mr. Grainger, passed away at the end of Season 6. But I've come up with a few (funny) reasons why the quick succession of senior in the gentlemen's department works in the plotline of the show as well:
- Whoever took the position had to stand up to Mrs. Slocombe AND had to put up with the "executive decision-making" of Mr. Rumbold, as well as Old Mr. Grace.
- The gentlemen's department counter could get a little crowded with three people standing behind it.
- Mr. Humphries was obviously so knowledgeable about their products and had such a (hilarious) way with customers that it almost rendered a "senior" sales assistant unnecessary.
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