Are You Being Served? - The 
Complete Third Series

Are You Being Served? - The Complete Third Series


Reviewed by: Max Blinkhorn

Comedy often dates and fails to hold our affection. So what happened with that old stalwart, Are You Being Served?

It's flippin' hilarious on DVD!

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Obviously, it doesn't promise anything more than stock fare of innuendos and standard one-liners, but somehow, in 2006, that seems more than enough. It's such an unsophisticated presentation that the comedy timing of John Inman and Trevor Bannister stands out a mile.

This is Series Three, so everyone knows their place, but these days, when we've seen it all and understand the cogs and wheels of comedy so well, Inman and Bannister are very refreshing. Mollie Sugden's workmanlike performance, as Mrs. Slocombe, is a perfect straight woman for the lads and The Janitor, played with character and finesse by Larry Martyn, deflates her pomposity perfectly. Various actors have played this part, including Alfie Bass and Arthur English (who was playing himself, anyway!), but Larry brings his own style, which blends well with the regulars.

Would you Adam and Eve it, guys! Wendy Richard is SEXY! Phwoar..... she's a babe in this, honest! Well it was 30 years ago. Time has certainly moved on, but AYBS still seems to come up to scratch.

These are well-crafted scripts by two of the best writers of their day, Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft. The set-ups are so simple, with the lifts entering and exiting characters on and off screen. With its feet firmly planted in farce, AYBS is not cerebral comedy and I can see the gay community loving it - Inman and Bannister are iconic characters and Sugden's extravagant overblown blouses are the stuff that Elton John is made of. With lines like, "He can't get his tongue round his r's," said of a Japanese customer, and Inman's response, "You know, I would have thought it was just a matter of practice," well, I hooted with laughter and didn't feel at all politically incorrect.

Episode five features a sharp appearance by Joanna Lumley, as the wife of a German customer during German week, and I gasped when I saw the similarity between the Anna Nicole Smith/J. Howard Smith thing and the young/old Mr. Graces and their "nurses." Lloyd and Croft seem to be clairvoyant! The parts of the nurses are played by Page Three models, too, so the similarity is even stronger.

I just sat and watched episodes as infill on telly nights and it was good, truly. Every episode felt worth watching and that's the test these days - can you turn it off? I didn't want to.

Reviewed on: 15 Mar 2006
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Are You Being Served? - The 
Complete Third Series packshot
Third helping of the BBC department store comedy.
Amazon link

Director: David Croft, Ray Butt

Writer: Jeremy Lloyd, David Croft

Starring: Mollie Sugden, Frank Thornton, John Inman, Wendy Richards, Trevor Bannister, Larry Martyn, Nicholas Smith, Arthur Brough, Harold Bennett, Nina Francis

Year: 1975

Runtime: 261 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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