Are You Being Served is a Brit comedy classic… and while it may be a bit outdated, that doesn’t mean that these episodes aren’t hilarious.
Are You Being Served? is widely considered to be the pinnacle of classic British comedy, right up there with Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, and Keeping Up Appearances. During its ten season run, the show kept the laughs coming with over-the-top escapades taking place in the fictional Grace Brothers department store. It lampooned British class warfare, gender equality and pretentious upper management, while serving up a bottomless bowl of hilarious sexual double entendres and loony props.
This series has quite a few standout episodes, and we’re going to list the top 10 funniest ones right now. This list is ranked, so we’re going from hilarious to absolutely side-splitting, in order. Each episode made the list because of something that made it enormously funny in its own right.
A transport strike kicks off in the middle of the afternoon, preventing any of the Grace Brothers staff from getting home. To deal with the crisis, Mr. Rumbold devises an eleventh hour plan to set up tents on the store floor so everyone has a place to lie their heads. Hilarity ensues when these unprepared sales personnel are forced to deal with a number of problems. Mrs. Slocombe refuses to share the large tent with anyone, which hangs Captain Peacock out to dry. Meanwhile, Mr. Lucas fails both at pitching a tent and seducing Mrs. Brahms, while Mr. Humphries gets a little too comfortable as the evening winds down.
The episode ends with the crew recalling war stories around an electric fire before the lights go out, leaving the audience to wonder if any hi-jinks took place during the course of the night.
The Grace Brothers staff prepare to celebrate Mr. Grainger’s 65th birthday, uncertain as to whether he’ll get the dreaded cuckoo clock that signifies involuntarily retirement. As they mull over what food to serve during the party (while attempting to save a few quid), Mr. Rumbold learns the Grainger is indeed on the chopping block, which makes him uncomfortable.
The party kicks off in hilarious fashion, with Mrs. Slocombe showing up drunk on Japanese tin champagne, while Mr. Humphries dances with a waist-up mannequin, and Mr. Grace shows up to throw Grainger’s forced retirement into the bin.
HOORAH FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Young Mr. Grace decides to redecorate Ladies and Gents, and announces that the store will close for two weeks in August. The staff are delighted, until they learn that Mr. Grace wants them to take their vacation in order to coincide with the redecoration. His first incentives end up rejected, forcing Mr. Grace to up the ante and pay for the entire staff to take a vacation together at a spot of their choosing.
Mr. Rumbold assembles the staff in the boardroom to show them slides of the possible destination choices. It turns out they all leave much to be desired! The laughs are plentiful, as each set of slides gets worse and worse, leading to the eventual rejection of the whole idea. Mr. Grace decides to offer them one final incentive, which comes with a very funny caveat attached!
In an effort to boost sales, Mr. Grace decides to kick off German Week, where the staff are tasked with pushing nothing but German goods. After angering a German tourist in a rip-roaring start to the campaign, the staff goes on to make a measly 64 pence in two days.
To turn things around, the staff have a round-table discussion to bring new ideas to the table. Their best course of action is to dress up in German attire, serve German wine and break into a German folk-dance at random intervals during the course of the day. Things go hilariously bad when Mrs. Slocombe goes overboard on the wine, flipping out on Captain Peacock during the German dance.
FORWARD MR. GRAINGER
Mr. Rumbold heads out for a month-long sales seminar, and decides to leave Mr. Grainger in charge as acting manager during his absence. At first humbled and excited by the prospect, Mr. Grainger soon turns into a belligerent, crotchety and overbearing tyrant who sees fit to fire Mrs. Slocombe for insubordination.
While the staff are increasingly annoyed by his behavior, Mr. Rumbold returns unexpectedly to resume his duties, putting Mr. Grainger in a very difficult spot!
Mr. Grace decides to test the efficiency of the department by initiating a mock fire drill, which ends up turning into a complete disaster. To compensate, the staff are required to stay behind and undergo fire safety training, which goes as well as one might expect!
The laughs are contagious in this episode, thanks to a first-half arc featuring Mr. Humphries and Mr. Lucas being forced to get creative to obtain the physical measurements of one woman that they aren’t allowed to touch by religious decree. The second act continues the hilarity, with the staff practicing on an overzealous CPR dummy, before sliding down a makeshift window chute.
A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST
The Grace Brothers staff are summoned to the boardroom and end up sticking their noses in a confidential file which suggests they’re all getting replaced. Mr. Grainger resigns in protest, only to learn that the staff are getting temporarily reassigned to new departments to give them experience. Ladies and Gents, it turns out, will be heading to the Toy department.
On Monday morning, Captain Peacock trains them all how to sell various toys, which in itself is a barrel of laughs! As the week winds down, the staff find they’ve fallen in love with the job – especially Mr. Grainger, who ends up getting his job back as head of Gentlemen’s Apparel.
DO YOU TAKE THIS MAN?
Mrs. Slocombe reveals that she’s engaged to a Greek named Mr. Metaxas, to the delight of the entire staff. While she prepares for her wedding day, she learns that her wealthy American uncle is showing up, and he has a brand new house to gift her!
Things take a comic turn for the worst when Mr. Metaxas suddenly breaks off the engagement – at the demand of his wife! The staff hatch a blasphemous plan to fake a Greek wedding on her uncle’s behalf, so he’ll end up giving her the house. Mrs. Slocombe drinks herself into a stupor, while Mr. Tebbs does his best to impersonate a Greek bishop, and Mr. Humphries tries his hardest to pass himself off as the groom!
This one is without a doubt one of the show’s most hilarious episodes, by far! The 1973 oil crisis comes into play in this story, forcing Grace Brothers to turn the heating off – in the dead of winter. Mr. Rumbold makes the announcement before heading back to his office, where he’s stashed away his own electric heater. Meanwhile, the staff come up with a number of creative methods to beat the cold.
Mrs. Slocombe hides alcohol in a perfume dispenser, Mr. Humphries tapes a blow-dryer to a cabinet to heat up his nether-regions, and Mr. Lucas wears oven mitts on his feet, which inexplicably leads to a sale! It’s not only one of the best storylines in the history of the show, but also one of the most inventive in an effort to rake in the laughs.
IT PAYS TO ADVERTISE
No other episode of the show has so much going on at once, and yet still manages to yank out non-stop laughs! Mr. Grace decides to film a TV commercial to boost Grace Brothers’ popularity, and he allows Mr. Humphries to direct it, while the staff star in it.
Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, from exploding cigarettes to a bum accordion, and finally Mr. Grace making a cameo appearance while pouring an entire bottle of wine onto the floor. The build-up in this episode is an example of comic master craftsmanship, and it remains the funniest Are You Being Served episode of all time!