Having met with great popularity and success on television since 1973, Are You Being Served? finally made the transition to the big screen in 1977, giving the talented team the opportunity to extend their scope for comedy in a full-length feature film.
The producers felt that the single-set Grace Bros store background would be insufficient for the big screen and didn’t want the film to look like a mere enlargement of a television episode. So a completely new idea was devised – no less than a temporary closure of Grace Bros for renovations, and while this is taking place, kindly “young Mr Grace” sends the staff off for a Mediterranean holiday.
So with varying degrees of eagerness, the staff members board their plane. There’s the rather flighty Mr “I’m Free” Humphries (John Inman); the “ever-so-refeened” Mrs Slocombe (Mollie Sugden); the bumptious Captain Peacock (Frank Thornton) who can’t forget that he once held a commission in the British Army; the General Manager Mr Rumbold (Nicholas Smith); and Miss Brahms (Wendy Richard), still keeping a watchful eye on the lecherous passes of Mr Lucas (Trevor Bannister). Then there’s the ageing Mr Grainger (Arthur Brough), querulous as ever, and Harman (Arthur English) the storeman, who accompanies the party much to the disgust of Mrs SLocombe who regards him as “a menial”.
Arriving at Costa Plonka, we are not surprised to find trouble awaiting them. Their hotel is not yet built and they have to be housed in tents. And even more trouble arrives in the shape of the local rebel leader Cesar (Glyn Houston) who announces that the hotel will be his battle HQ.
One outrageous situation follows another, and in spite of the Feydeau farce-style climax, the comedy is as British as Mrs Slocombe’s Union Jack bloomers.
Andrew Sachs was hired as Don Carlos, the Spanish manager of Costa Plonka’s Don Barnardo Palace Hotel, to capitalise on his then-current fame as Manuel in the series Fawlty Towers, which was still being broadcast when this film was made and released.
Young Mr Grace
Don Carlos Bernardo