Monday, 26 February 2018

"No, no! I shall never give in to an Italian whopper!!!"

"No, no! I shall never give in to an Italian whopper!!!"

Episode Thirteen of 'Round The Archives' rounded off with an article on Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft's 'Are You Being Served?'. This is often our default choice for a comedy series and we have watched certain episodes time and time again.

One of Lisa's favourites is 'The Hold Up' from the final season in 1985. Although I feel the show loses something after the departure of Arthur Brough's gloriously crabby Mr, Grainger, there is still plenty of entertaining material in its later years.

This particular story gives the cast a good excuse to dress up as the store falls victim to a robbery. One of the ne'er-do-wells is none other than Michael Attwell, soon to give us a terrifying portrayal of Bill Sikes in the Terrance Dicks production of  'Oliver Twist'.

It is stocktaking night and Mr. Rumbold has already left along with Miss Belfridge, so when Miss Brahms is grabbed by the criminals (which is always painful), it falls to Captain Peacock to impersonate the long arm of the law, that presumably will ride up with wear.

Although the plan seems to work for a few moments, the fact that Captain Peacock's supposed warrant card is actually Mr. Harman's Packing & Maintenance union card rather gives the game away.

All is not looking well for our friends at Grace Brothers, until talk of the feared Gumby Gang gives a ray of hope. Enter Mr. Harman and Mrs. Slocombe in full 1920s gangster gear as the infamous Pa and Ma Gumby.

But as always, Mr. Humphries tops everyone with his fan-waving Italian Tony ("The Tooting Terror"). Even Michael Attwell has trouble keeping a straight face when "Tony" has to law down the law.

A hurried phone call to Mr. Rumbold (note the lovely character detail of his cuddly koala bear) doesn't exactly pay off as intended. But if you want to know how the story ends, then we refer you to the DVD release.

'Are You Being Served?' makes no apologies when it dabbles with the dafter side of things. It's a difficult tightrope to walk, but when it holds its nerve, it can produce some wonderfully silly moments of comedy. It never fails to make us laugh and a trip to Grace Brothers habitually highlights how the production team have all done very well!

(By Andrew Trowbridge)

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