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"Are You Being Served?" Wedding Bells (1975)

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Mrs. Slocombe's brief rise in the world

Author: theowinthrop from United States
28 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In many of the episodes of ARE YOU BEING SERVED? the issue of sexism comes up. Usually Mrs. Slocombe (Mollie Sugden) and Miss Brahams (Wendy Richards) find that the men bind together in a kind of chauvinist club against them when they present fairly reasonable requests.

In this episode Mr. Mash (Larry Martyn) brings some supplies to the ladies' department, including ladies' panties that have sexually suggestive phrases or illustrations (like shadows of hands on the parts over the behind) on them. Mrs. Slocombe and Miss Brahams both feel these are demeaning and Slocombe tells Captain Peacock (Frank Thornton) that she has no intention of selling them. Peacock reminds her that she is obliged to sell what the purchase department has bought for her department as merchandise. Slocombe still refuses and does so again when Mr. Rumbold (Nicholas Smith) also confronts her. She has no intention to resign (although she says to Miss Brahams she came close to doing so), but attempts to defend her position. She finds not only Peacock and Rumbold hostile, but so are Mr. Grainger (Arthur Borough), who feels that she has been a pest ever since she was moved to what had been his floor, and with Mr. Humphrey (John Inman) and Mr. Lucas (Trevor Bannister) agreeing that if they removed Slocombe's ladies' department the men's wear department could expand back to what it was. So except for Miss Brahams nobody is supporting Mrs. Slocombe.

But suddenly Young Mr.Grace (Harold Bennett) appears and requests that Mrs. Slocombe see him later in the afternoon. He announces that he is planning on remarrying. Naturally the men on the floor now see Mrs. Slocombe as about to be married to the owner of the department store, and thus their boss. Everyone who had previously been harshly rejecting her ideas suddenly does a 180 degree reversal, insisting that she is right about everything. They bend over backwards in helping her get ready for her meeting with Mr. Grace. Grainger even allows her to use his department's dressing room, although when she does use it she finds it being occupied by a man being fitted for a new pair of pants.

Other events are going on in the episode, including how Mr. Lucas and Mr. Humphrey sell a sweater to a customer (John Clegg) who manages to get his wig lost in pulling off the sweater.

In the end Mrs. Slocombe's bubble of success and social position is burst as a false dream. But in the closing moments of the show she is able to use her failure to gain a bit of satisfaction and success at the expense of the boot-licking males on the floor. And she also gives advise to Mr. Grace regarding his plans as well.

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