Are You Being Served?

Bob Kellett (UK, 1977, 92 min.)

Also known as Are You Being Served? The Movie, this film is a feature-length spin-off of the long-running BBC television series. The series ran for eight years in the UK, and has run for what seems like forever on PBS stations across the United States. According to this informative site, the movie was not the only by-product of the series: an Australian and American adaptation followed, as well as a reunion series which brought the remaining cast members to a country bed and breakfast.

The film follows the cast on a vacation to Spain while Grace Brothers undergoes renovations. As the dvd box says, "High jinks from the Grace Bros. team as they troop off to sunny Spain for the staff trip of a lifetime. Cheerfully they disgrace themselves on the Costa Plonka." I'm not sure I know what that means, but it certainly happens in the film. The scene that qualifies the film for an appearance here comes early on, as Mrs. Slocombe, played by Mollie Sugden, is informed that she needs a proper photograph for her passport. Captain Peacock (Frank Thornton) offers to show her up to the photo booth on 3, and "high jinks" certainly ensue.

What follows is a unique combination of the "Hamlet Cigar Ad" joke (inability to figure out timing of photo booth flash, also seen in "As Time Goes By") and a "Three's Company" plotline (overheard conversation thought to be sexual in nature, leading to confusion) that puts Mrs. Slocombe in some embarassing photographs and somehow gets her unintentionally inoculated. Watch the film, really. I might have to credit this film with those types of jokes, actually, as it precedes both the commercial and the tv show, though "Three's Company" was originally a UK show ("Man About the House") as well. Anyway, here are the scenes of note:

Contributed by Brian

As we close in on the photobooth, it becomes clear it's actually a sort of a photo machine without the booth; the same equipment, but in a room of its own.
Peacock explains the mechanism; four photos for 10p (really?).
Not knowing how to compose herself, Mrs. Slocombe asks Peacock for advice; this face is the result.
Mr. Harman (Arthur English) overhears something and blushes, saying he'll "call later."
Ready for the first shot, as Mrs. Slocombe holds her grimace and Capt. Peacock inserts the coin.
Of course, she asks if it's working, just as it takes a picture.
When told to lean back in preparation for the next shot, she of course falls over backwards.
Snap. Nice knickers.
Peacock helps her up, and gets too close for comfort.
Third photo, enraged Mrs. Slocombe being inadvertently groped by Capt. Peacock.
Capt. Peacock helps Mrs. Slocombe up in time for the last of the four photos.
Enter the single-minded nurse, there to inoculate someone who is not Mrs. Slocombe. As she's knocked over the chair, Mrs. Slocombe needs to bend slightly to get a good photo, but that also happens to be the "stick me with a needle" pose as well. Classic.
Probably not the face she was looking for.
Miss Brahms (Wendy Richard) looks at the resulting photos as Mrs. Slocombe takes a stiff drink.
The final picture, in Mrs. Slocombe's passport, with the unofficial Brighton-style painted-body/face-in-the-hole fantasy photo for good measure.