Wednesday, July 01, 2009

They all did very well

Another staff member from the Grace Bros department store has sadly rung up the till for the very last time. Veteran actress Mollie Sugden, who played the formidable Mrs Slocombe, will now be joining her younger colleague Miss Brahms at the ultimate bra and knicker counter in the sky.

It's a sad day for someone like me, who spent an innocent childhood in the 1970s waiting to hear the latest news about Mrs Slocombe's pussy. On the other hand, the show lives on and has been enjoyed by new generations of TV shoppers on both sides of the Atlantic.

One of the remarkable things about Are You Being Served? was that there were only three basic sets. The majority of the action took place on the shopfloor, which was ably policed by Frank Thornton's straight man, Captain Peacock. Important meetings were held in the office of 'old jug-ears', Mr Rumbold. Beyond that, we only really got to see the canteen, where the staff seemed to take a collective lunch break to scoff rissoles. What happened to sales during this period? Presumably the floor was closed to customers between 1 and 2 - an example of the quaint practices that made Grace Bros seem somewhat anachronistic even in the age of Barry Sheen and Harold Wilson.

Are any of the show's original cast still hanging in there? Trevor Bannister is unbelievably now in his early 70s and only a few years younger than Nicholas Smith, who played Mr Rumbold. I hope they both stick it out for a few years yet. As long as one or two of the store's staff are still able to measure an inside leg, there's an outside chance of Grace Bros once again opening its famous elevator doors.

They all did very well - the late Mollie Sugden included. And I am unanimous in that.

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