|Captain Stephen Peacock|
|Are You Being Served?
& Grace and Favour character
|Portrayed by||Frank Thornton (1972-93)|
|First appearance||Are You Being Served? (1972)|
|Created by||Jeremy Lloyd
Captain Stephen Peacock is a fictional character from the BBC One comedy show, Are You Being Served?. He was played by Frank Thornton, who went on to take the popular role of Truly in Last of the Summer Wine.
Captain Peacock, the somewhat stuffy floorwalker, considers himself above the assistants with both his position and his dubious military record. Allegedly, despite his rank, Peacock began as a sweeper in the stockroom. By 1975 he had been working at Grace Brothers for 20 years.
The question most viewers asked was: in what corps was Peacock a captain? In the pilot episode Mrs. Slocombe mentions annoyance with Peacock's posh "Royal Signals Corps voice". Although Peacock later brags about being in the Royal Engineers and his experiences fighting Rommel in North Africa, Mr. Mash likes to tell the staff that Peacock served in the NAAFI instead, and probably didn't ever leave England. Although Peacock usually talks as if he were a member of an elite Commando unit, on two occasions he admits he was in the Royal Army Service Corps (logistics) - in addition, throughout the series he wears the RASC tie. Mr. Goldberg, who blackmails Peacock into hiring him to replace Mr. Tebbs, confirms that Peacock served in North Africa but mentions that Peacock's real rank was Corporal.
Captain Peacock considers himself to be something of a "ladies' man." It is heavily implied in several episodes that Captain Peacock has had dalliances with women outside his marriage, mostly with ladies from the store such as the secretaries working for Mr. Rumbold (in particular Miss Belfridge). He has also been known to cast his eye towards Miss Brahms (who has referenced his attempts at seduction during office parties). He has even been known to flirt with Mrs. Slocombe occasionally (though this is the exception rather than the rule, as usually it is Mrs. Slocombe who uses her charms on him when she wants something). These situations have often got Captain Peacock into both marital and professional trouble (on one occasion the extremely jealous Mrs. Peacock confronts him while he's at work), but due to his quick wit he is usually able to work his way out of both situations.
Captain Peacock generally tends to have a hate-hate relationship with whoever is the junior in the menswear department; Mr. Lucas, Mr. Spooner, and Mr. Humphries have all gotten the sharp end of his tongue (as their more carefree, relaxed attitude towards work clashes with his more professional demeanor). He sometimes clashes with the Senior Assistant of the menswear department, whether that be Mr. Grainger, Mr. Tebbs, Mr. Goldberg, Mr. Grossman, or Mr Klein, usually over a matter that involves the menswear department having to share floor or counter space with the ladies' department. He also irritated them whenever anything involving a promotion or the company boardroom was mentioned; they would become jealous as he had been at the store longer, while Peacock seemed to relish the opportunity to reinforce his senior position.
Originally, Captain Peacock appeared to be just like the Grace Brothers management: old-fashioned, a sense of station, snobbish, upper-class, posh accent, who did everything by the book. However, as the series progressed, Peacock began to side more with the sales staff and go on strike, whenever pay rises did not come or cuts came, and he helped in taking charge of parties and offering comfort, most notably in "Forward Mr Grainger", "A Change Is As Good As A Rest", "Founder's Day", "Goodbye Mr Grainger", "The Club", "Anything You Can Do", "Is It Catching", "A Personal Problem", "Sit Out", "The Erotic Dreams Of Mrs Slocombe", "Monkey Business", "Lost And Found", "Goodbye Mrs Slocombe", "The Hold-Up", "Gambling Fever" and The Night Club". This made him a more likable character.
Grace and Favour
- "I'm Free! - The Complete Are You Being Served?". Orion Books. 1999.
- "Founder's Day". Are You Being Served?. Season 5. Episode 3. 1977-03-11.
- RASC Royal Army Service Corps Regimental Military Stripe Tie
- Are You Being Served? made Mrs Brown's Boys look like Wodehouse – review