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The Complete Guide to Are You Being Served? - Forty Years of Laughter [Kindle Edition]

William Earl Patrick
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

ARE YOU BEING SERVED? All across America, viewers have tuned in in ever-increasing numbers to hear this now-famous query. In fact, although the series ended in 1984, its popularity on American television prompted the producers to produce twelve new episodes in 1991, and 1992. All of the series episodes and the movie version have been released on best-selling DVD’s.

“The Complete Are You Being Served? - Forty Years of Laughter” is intended to offer a maximum amount of information about the series and those responsible for its success, both in front of and behind the cameras. Extensively researched, the book includes a full listing of all the series' episodes with comprehensive credits listed by episode, and biographical information on the series' stars and creators. In addition, there is a synopsis of each and every episode, including for each episode "Notable Discrepancies in Continuity" and "Briticisms," a translation of English phrases into their American equivalents. Each of the series is preceded by a brief synopsis of current events as of the air date.

Special features include an entire chapter devoted to Mrs. Slocombe’s hair and a chapter devoted to CATastrophes and other puns, listing each and every reference to Mrs. Slocombe’s beloved cat, Tiddles.

This is a comprehensive guide, with a maximum amount of information, not a coffee-table book. There are no pictures. If it’s information you want, you’ll find it here. If you’re looking for pictures, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very vey good 14 Jun. 2013
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As a fan of this great British program and films I was so pleased to find this. Iknew a lot about the writers, caster and some of the things that went on in the back ground, but this book was a bundle of information and loads of fun to ready. It is the type of read thats makes you laugh out load.
I would advise anyone who likes Are You Being Served to get a copy of this as it is worth the money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it. 11 Jan. 2013
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I really enjoyed it.
Explains a lot about the setup for the story's in the program, & loads fo laughps.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Braces or suspenders? 30 Oct. 2014
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This book is definitely worth the price if only for the fact that it is written for the American reader and contains a translation from the British English at the end of each chapter. I never realised there were so many differences.
As Winston Churchill said - 'Divided by a common language'.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok, expected so much more 14 Feb. 2014
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As a fan of this great comedy series, I was looking forward to reading this book. Most of the book comprises describing each episode as well as 'britishisms' at the end of each episode. Most of which is fairly accurate but some are mis-spelt and some inaccurate ! All in all if you like the series, its an ok read but not great.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Reads Like a PBS Book 25 Mar. 2012
By Dale Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
I only downloaded a preview of this book and I'm glad. It read like another PBS book, of which I already own two. It was all the same information with a generous helping of rubbish and fan speculation.

I wouldn't bother with this lot. The twenty-fifth anniversary book is much more reliable and informative, with some really great photos as well.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's All In the Actors and Writers! 14 July 2013
By Marilyn Lee - Published on Amazon.com
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I love the new ideas and plots that are truly written to fit the actors. Never a dull moment with Forty Years of Laughter! I also have purchased EVERYTHING else they have done.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but Just Misses Greatness 11 Jun. 2014
By C. Carson - Published on Amazon.com
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This book is an excellent reference for the casual viewer. For die-hard fans like me, the first few chapters - The Characters, The Players, and Behind The Scenes - were the best parts of the book.

The reason I gave 4 rather than 5 stars, however, is because some glaring errors and omissions appear in several areas of the book: (1) The author mis-describes one of Mrs. Slocombe's numerous names as "Agatha Betty" in the episode synopsis for "Fifty Years On," when it is previously listed correctly as "Abergavenny" in "The Characters" portion. (2) Again in the episode synopses, the author states incorrectly that Young Mr. Grace made his "final" appearance in Series 8, Episode 1, "Is It Catching?" In actuality, Young Mr. Grace's last appearance was in Series 8, Episode 8, "Roots," in which he was present for Old Mr. Grace's 90th birthday celebration. (3) Mrs. Slocombe's cat, Tiddles, "appeared" at Grace Brothers a total of three times: the author noted that Tiddles was hidden under a hat on the sales counter in "Friends and Neighbors," and that her tail "poured" out of a coffee urn's spigot in "Mrs. Slocombe Expects," but he failed to note that the cat's tail also appeared in "The Apartment," where it was waving agitatedly from within a pet carrier.

In addition, the author purports to include inconsistencies from one episode to another throughout the show's tenure, yet he fails to mention one of the most glaring among them: in "Fire Practice," the Emir's spokesman states that "man may touch woman," but he will then be killed; yet, when the fire alarm goes off, Captain Peacock picks up one of the Emir's harem girls in a fireman's lift and lives to tell the tale.

And while some of the information about world events that occurred during the time period of each series was interesting, I felt that the author spent too much time on American entertainment industry happenings; after all, this book is billed as a guide to AYBS, not a guide to Oscar nominations during the same time frame. On the other side of that coin, he mentions some newsworthy incidents that occurred, but merely "teases" the reader with hints as to what happened, without further explanation; e.g., "Queen Elizabeth awoke to find a strange man sitting at the foot of her bed."

Another disappointment were the "Briticisms." First, some of the words had been used in earlier episodes of the show, but were not defined until much later in the book, in contrast to the author's assurance in the Introduction that each would be defined "the first time it occurs in the series." I also felt that many of the words defined were unnecessary, because they are either easily understood through common sense ("Accounts" meaning "Accounting Department"), or through the context of their use in the show, including: the "lift" (in use in every episode); "suspenders" (adjusted by many female characters over the years); and "jumpers" (sold by the menswear department several times. If some viewers do not know what these "Briticisms" mean after seeing them visually defined on the show, I doubt that written definitions would be of any help to them, either.

In addition, the words "bog" and "loo" are defined for the reader, but "khazi" is not. All three words were used in the show, and all three mean "toilet," so why are we excluding "khazi" from the list?

For my part, the one "Briticism" I most wanted defined was the alternate meaning of the word, "rissoles." In both "Anything You Can Do," and "Mrs. Slocombe, Senior Person," this word was used to the great amusement of the audience, and clearly, the meaning of the word that produced the hilarity was not the one provided by the author (a meat-filled pastry). I think it would also have been more helpful to have had the list of "Briticisms" in one place, rather than sprinkling a few here and there among the episodes. (Note: the author mentions in the Introduction that an index of them is included in the book, but I guess this must only apply to the print form, because it is missing from the Kindle version.)

I also think it would have been apropos to include more information about the locations and world events discussed by the characters, as he did when explaining that Beachy Head is "a lover's leap of sorts." Readers would also benefit from descriptions of some of the people and British fictional characters referred to by the staff in various episodes. Here, I'm thinking specifically of "Shoulder to Shoulder," in which Mrs. Slocombe mentions "the one that looks like Steptoe," who is a character in the British comedy program "Steptoe & Son," and from which the American program "Sanford & Son" got its premise. A few moments later Captain Peacock mentions "the one that looks like Larry Grayson," a British comedian and television presenter.

In a related vein, shortly after his arrival at the store in "Cold Comfort," Mr. Lucas says, "A bit taters in here this morning, in't it?" "Taters" is an example of Cockney Rhyming Slang; a shortened version of "Taters in the Mould," it means "cold." If Mr. Patrick updates his book in the future, I think it would be nice if he were to provide some information about this subject (maybe a link to the Cockney Rhyming Slang website?) for anyone who may be interested.

I did enjoy reading his list of Mrs. Slocombe's hair colors, and most particularly, his creative names for the colors; e.g., "Poignantly Pregnant Pink" for the color she sported in "Mrs. Slocombe Expects."

I also liked the tidbits included at the end of some of the synopses, such as the one indicating that Captain Peacock almost called Mrs. Slocombe by her real name. In light of that, I was surprised that this one was not mentioned: in "The Apartment," after Mrs. Slocombe sorts out her things on the top floor, she starts to tell Miss Brahms of her idea for spending the night there, and catches herself mid-line when she's jumped ahead in the script: "There's plenty of room - I'm going to stay in me flat."

Under "Feline Puns," I was disappointed that some of them were cut off in mid-joke; e.g., the reference quoted in "Forward Mr. Grainger" ends the anecdote at "...drops its clockwork mouse on me pillow," but the rest of the line was, "and it won't give over. Not until I've wound it up and had a game under the covers," which I personally believe adds to the double entendre humor of the scene. Another example is from "The Father Christmas Affair," where the quote is cut off at "clawing at my...." The final words are "Busy Lizzie," which is a potted plant. While it is difficult to hear these words over the audience's laughter, the author could have quickly and easily found this information with only a few moments of research, as I did.

Some of the excluded lines add a great deal to the humor in the situation. I'm thinking particularly of "The Night Club," in which Mrs. Slocombe calls home to speak to her pussy, whom she has trained to knock the receiver off the hook. Instead, she gets her neighbor, Mr. Ackbar, by mistake. A very funny scene occurs here, but the author included only one line from the entire exchange - and it wasn't even the funniest one.

Speaking for myself, "and I am unanimous in this," I highly recommend this book despite its shortcomings. It is clear that Mr. Patrick put a lot of work into this guide, and it provides a lot of valuable information about a classic British comedy program and the people who brought it to life.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 19 July 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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It is one of my all time favorite BBC comedy. I enjoyed reading about the stories and the actors.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 11 Aug. 2014
By Terry Stinson - Published on Amazon.com
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Good book for anyone who enjoys the series.
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