Personal Services

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Personal Services
Personal services poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTerry Jones
Produced byTim Bevan
Written byDavid Leland
Music byJohn Du Prez
CinematographyRoger Deakins
Edited byGeorge Akers
Distributed byVestron Pictures
Release date
  • 15 May 1987 (1987-05-15) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$1,744,164[1][2]

Personal Services is a 1987 British comedy film directed by Terry Jones and written by David Leland. It is the story of the rise of a madam of a suburban brothel which caters to older men. The story is inspired by the real experiences of Cynthia Payne, the legendary "House of Cyn" madam.


Christine Painter is a sexually naive waitress and single mother who pays for her teenage son David's tuition by renting London flats to call girls. When a landlord confronts her for illegally subletting the flats and falling behind on the rent, Christine gives him a handjob in lieu of rent. After one of her "tenants", Rose, refuses to pay rent, Christine realizes she can do sex work herself in the flat Rose abandons.

Christine is charged with soliciting and pleads guilty in court. Soon she hatches a scheme with fellow sex worker Shirley to provide strictly kinky services such as bondage and fetish roleplay to an upscale clientele. They rent a suburban house where they are joined by their "maid" Dolly.

Christine attends her sister's wedding, where Dolly is accidentally exposed as transgender to the groom's mother. Christine's father and sister angrily denounce her for spoiling the wedding.

Christine's father later visits the brothel for sex and reconciles with his daughter. The brothel enjoys brisk business but soon attracts the notice of the police, who raid the house on Christmas Eve.

When Christine appears in court to be arraigned, she is relieved when she realizes the judge is one of her main clients, she then imagines the courtroom filled with all of her clients as judges.



The film made £1,952,017 in the UK.[3]


The film was banned in the Republic of Ireland upon theatrical release (although the ban was lifted two months later). At the time, there were four films that were banned in Ireland, and Jones had directed three of them (Personal Services, Monty Python's Life of Brian, and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life).


  1. ^ Personal Services at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Olins, Rufus (24 September 1995). "Mr Fixit of the British Screen". The Sunday Times. London, England: The Sunday Times Digital Archive. pp. 9[S]. Retrieved 29 March 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Back to the Future: The Fall and Rise of the British Film Industry in the 1980s - An Information Briefing" (PDF). British Film Institute. 2005. p. 27.

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