Are You Being Served? (Australian TV series)

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Are You Being Served?
Are You Being Served Australian series title card.jpg
Created by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft
Directed by Bob Spiers
Starring John Inman
June Bronhill
Shane Bourne
Christine Amor
Country of origin Australia
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 16
Production
Running time 25 minutes
Release
Original network Network Ten
Original release 1980 – 1981
Chronology
Related shows Are You Being Served?
Are You Being Served? (film)
Beane's of Boston
Grace & Favour

The Australian version of British sitcom Are You Being Served? was produced by Network Ten in 1980. A total of 16 episodes were produced in two series, which aired in 1980 and 1981. The draw-card was the presence of actor John Inman reprising his role of Mr. Humphries from the original series. The other characters were all directly based on the regular characters in the show's original version, but were all given new names.[1]

In comparison to the original series, Inman described this version of the series as "tighter - there's less padding." [2]

For the opening theme, Inman himself performed vocals.

Premise[edit]

Mr Humphries (Inman) is sent to Australia by Old Mr. Grace to work temporarily for his Australian cousin Mr. Bone at Bone Brothers. Apart from the new setting and Australian rather than British characters, the characters and situation were almost identical to that of the original series, as were the set design and layout and even the costuming (down to the senior sales woman's ever-changing hair colours and the female assistants' uniforms). Menswear and ladies apparel shared a floor of a large city department store and the departments came into regular conflict. The staff on the floor were the pompous floor-walker Captain Wagstaff (Reg Gillam), crusty senior salesman Mr Mankowitz (Anthony Bazell), randy sales junior Mr Randel (Shane Bourne), strident older sales woman Mrs Crawford (June Bronhill) and attractive but brassy and common younger sales woman Miss Buxton (Judith Woodroffe). Basil Clarke portrayed the store's owner Mr Bone, Reg Evans was the obnoxious cleaner Mr Cocker, Kerry Daniel played a nurse, and Tracey Kelly was Bone's attractive secretary.

Production notes[edit]

The first series was produced at the ATV-0 studios in Melbourne in the early months of 1980.[3]

It was the first television role for opera singer June Bronhill. (Her first straight dramatic acting role had been in a theatre production the previous year.) John Inman said, "It's amazing to think this is her first television role, she's a natural." Bronhill discussed the role with TV Week magazine. "I'm delighted with the way my character has turned out. Mrs Crawford tries to be very refined but sometimes the ocker in her slips out. The British version of Are You Being Served? has always been my favourite comedy series. And I loved Mollie Sugden's performance as Mrs Slocombe, my counterpart." [3]

For the second and final series, produced in late 1980, original regular cast members Judith Woodroffe, who was Mrs Crawford's attractive junior Miss Buxton, and Peter Collingwood who had played the Mr Rumbold-like store manager Mr Gilbert, were unavailable. To replace them, Christine Amor was the new, brassy young female retail assistant Miss Nicholls, and Ken Fraser came in as Mr Fenwick.

Christine Amor said of the series that "Are You Being Served? is one of the few TV comedies we are making in Australia and that's sad. In the days of My Name's McGooley, What's Yours? we had real Australian humour. But we have been very much influenced by overseas countries. Are You Being Served? is popular because people identify with a department store. It has no Australian idioms and it is a take off of the English series, but there is this sort of colonial thing where people enjoy English humour. I've always enjoyed it. I like English comedies, I think they're far superior to American comedies." It was Amor's first acting job before a live television audience. "I look at John Inman because he's been doing TV comedy for 10 years and been a comedian for 25 years. He's got it down to a fine art. But it is an accomplished skill which you keep on learning. I've learned a lot from John. The basic hint he gave me was to enjoy it and to have a rapport with the audience." [4]

Actress Abigail guest starred in one episode as a perfume company sales woman installed on the shop floor, whose presence disturbs the head of men's wear and the head of ladies' wear. Abigail's character then does a strip tease to reveal a skimpy costume. Abigail said of the guest spot that "I took this role because I very much wanted to work with John Inman and I have a high regard for the series itself. Besides, I thought it would be a fun proposition." [5]

Episode list[edit]

Except for "Undesirable Alien", the plot of each episode is based on the corresponding episode of the original series.

Season 1[edit]

  • Ep1: Get Fit Down Under, Mr. Humphries (based on "Strong Stuff, This Insurance")
  • Ep2: The Hero
  • Ep3: Mrs Crawford, Senior Person
  • Ep4: The Agent
  • Ep5: The Apartment
  • Ep6: The Junior
  • Ep7: The Punch and Judy Affair
  • Ep8: Anything You Can Do

Season 2[edit]

  • Ep9: Dear Sexy Knickers
  • Ep10: Camping In
  • Ep11: Our Figures Are Slipping
  • Ep12: Heir Apparent
  • Ep13: Front Page Story
  • Ep14: Undesirable Alien
  • Ep15: Diamonds are a Man's Best Friend
  • Ep16: His and Hers

Legacy[edit]

The series never ran outside of Australia and thus wasn't seen in the UK or other countries where Are You Being Served? was popular, such as Ireland, the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

The series has not been repeated on Australian television since the early 1980s. (The UK original Are You Being Served? had been repeated by ABC Television in Australia several times.[6] By 1978 it had been repeated by Channel Seven in Australia to even larger audiences.[7])

In a recurring joke on the radio show Get This, it was stated that only the loss of the master tapes for the series is preventing its release on DVD. The National Film and Sound Archive does in fact contain copies of each episode in its vault.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Stavordale, Peter. "Opera Star June For New Comedy Series.", TV Week. 9 February 1980, page 27
  2. ^ The Cheek of it all Comes Out Again., TV Week. 29 November 1980, page 2
  3. ^ a b Our June's Busting to be an Actress., TV Week. 12 April 1980, page 33
  4. ^ Johnson, Jackie. To Christine it's so serious., TV Week. 17 January 1981, page 66
  5. ^ Fraser, Jill. Abigail's Back Serving Up Laughs., TV Week. 13 December 1980, page 33
  6. ^ Collier, Shayne. Again and again and again. The Sydney Morning Herald - The Guide: 2 June 1986, p.1, 6. [1]
  7. ^ Semmler, Clement. Why 'Are You Being Served?' is our top-rating program. The Sydney Morning Herald: 25 October 1978, p.8. [2]

External links[edit]