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This quintessentially British sitcom is about Grace Brothers, a department store in London which is owned and kept traditional, almost pre-war (e.g. precise dress code for ladies frills and gentlemen's hats according to rank), by two brothers who look old enough to have fought in the Boer war but rarely appear, as most scenes play on one floor where Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold is the executive (meaning he enjoys an endless parade of foxy but stupid secretaries) in charge of management while his dignified floor walker, Captain Stephen Peacock, has daily charge over two small sales teams. The fat and bossy, implicitly man-hungry widow Mrs. Betty Slocombe supervises the attractive Miss Shirley Brahms (with a terribly common Cockney accent) -with first choice of customers, on commission- the sale of women's clothes and accessories; the sales star at the gentleman's side is Mr. Wilberforce Clayborne Humpries, an implied closet-gay true gentleman, whose successive superiors are first obviously ... Written by
With the death of Frank Thornton (Captain Stephen Peacock) on March 16, 2013 at age 92, the only member of the original cast still living is Nicholas Smith (Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold). See more »
Character's first names vary throughout the series: Mr. Lucas is variously James or Dick; Mr. Harman starts as Harry, then becomes Beverley; the cleaner has three different names, always played by the same actress. See more »
I remember watching reruns of this show on PBS in the 90s, I must have watched every episode ten times. The only American show that could be compared to AYBS is probably Threes Company, if only for the dirty jokes that pop up on every episode. It was a little weird seeing such proper British people casually tossing off filthy double entendres, but that was part of the charm, the characters were largely oblivious to the fact. My favorite character was Mrs. Slocombe with her sky-high neon-colored hair. She and Mr. Humphries made the show, just like Karen and Jack make Will & Grace, if you get my drift. Mrs. Slocombe had the funniest reactions to every event, no matter how small, and was quick to petulance after her fragile ego was even slightly bruised. I still laugh when I recall scenes from the show, for instance when she walked in one day wearing a brown outfit and Mr. Lucas said "how now brown cow", and she glared at him. I'm laughing as I type this. Or the time when Mr. Rumbold became ill and Mrs. Slocombe took over the whole department and used his office, she started ordering all these fancy things befitting an executive, like a new suit, and Mr. Travis said "She looks like Rocky Marciano". Then she ate the meringue and got a call from Mr. Rumbold not to eat the meringue, and became violently ill. My favorite Mrs. Slocombe episode, if there is one, is when she can't get home so she stays at Grace Brothers upstairs and has a self-contained apartment. One-by-one, all the other characters, who couldn't get home either, drop by to stay at her apartment and she has to accommodate them all. It's hilarious! There's also one episode where Joanne Lumley makes an appearance and she's young and sexy, she's selling perfume or something.
This wasn't the best show ever made, but the characters are so well crafted that you feel like Grace Brothers could be a real department store somewhere. Even in the 70s, when this show was made, Grace Brothers seems hopelessly old-fashioned and out of date.
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