Monday, September 21, 2015

Are You Being Served? Week: Beginnings

The beginnings of Are You Being Served? took root in co-creator Jeremy Lloyd's mind when he was working in a British department store named Simpsons of Picadilly. As a real life Mr. Lucas, Jeremy Lloyd didn't last long there, but the experience stayed in his mind for years.

Years later, when asked by the BBC for a new show idea, Mr. Lloyd teamed up with David Croft and related his experience at Simpsons of Picadilly. They crafted a show that would display the ridiculousness of Britain's class society as seen through the eyes of the staff at an old-style department store that had seen better days.

The fictional Grace Brothers would be a relic of a bygone era, run by a relic himself- the misleadingly named Young Mr. Grace. The show would center itself around the Ladies and Gentlemen's departments, who were now forced to share floor space with each other. Led by a clueless middle manager and supervised by a useless floorwalker, the department staff members would stumble from misadventure to misadventure all while serving the customers.

It wouldn't be an easy road, however. The BBC was cool to the idea and barely approved production of the pilot episode. After the pilot was filmed, they rejected it and stuck it on the shelf. The magic of Grace Brothers would never see the light of day. In 1972, however, tragedy struck. The massacre at the Munich Summer Olympics left the BBC with many programming holes to fill after the games were suspended. Are You Being Served? was pulled off the shelf and aired as a comedy special. It was a huge success, inspiring the BBC to order a full series. Grace Brothers was now open for business.