Are You Being Served?: The U.S. and Australian versions

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of April 8, 2019

Tea Time Tidbit

The cast of Are You Being Served?

Did you know that in 1979 CBS aired a pilot episode of a show called Beane’s of Boston, which was an adaptation of Are You Being Served?, set in a Boston department store! Despite it being written by AYBS’s co-creators, Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft – and despite it featuring the German clog dance routine - it was never made into a series.

With the exception of old Mr. Grace, who in the U.S. version was called Frank Beane, the characters in Beane’s of Boston have the same last names as the original characters, but most have been given different first names.

Tea Time Tidbit

John Inman as Mr. Humphries

Mrs. Slocombe, for instance, was called Mae Slocombe. She was played by Charlotte Rae, who you might remember as Edna Garrett in Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life. “George” Humphries was played by Alan Sues, who appeared in the comedy sketch show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The same first name was retained for Shirley Brahms, played by Lorna Patterson, who was the blonde stewardess in the comedy film Airplane! and who also played the lead role in the TV series Private Benjamin. Tom Poston, an actor who had an expansive television career, appearing as a regular in shows such as The Bob Newhart Show, Mork & Mindy, Family Matters, Murphy Brown, and That ‘70s Show.

“John” Peacock was played by John Hillerman, although he was almost replaced by Jeremy Lloyd, who read in for him when Hillerman failed to turn up for the first read through. Lloyd is reported to have been offered the part, but supposedly he turned it down when Croft reminded him of his other writing commitments back in the U.K. A year after the failed pilot episode, Hillerman was cast as Jonathan Quail Higgins III in Magnum P.I., which aired for eight years and earned Hillerman both a Golden Globe and an Emmy award.

Beane’s of Boston, in its 27-minute entirety, can be viewed here:

A more successful adaptation of the series appeared in Australia, again created by Croft and Lloyd. This time though they left the name alone and called it Are You Being Served?. But they did have to change the name of the department store from Grace Brothers to Bone Brothers, as Grace Brothers was a popular department store chain in Australia at the time. The series aired in 1980 and 1981 and ran for a total of 16 episodes over two series.

It starred John Inman as Mr. Humphries, who has been sent to Australia to take over the menswear department at Bone Brothers. The rest of the characters in the show were given different names, but their characteristics were the same as the characters in the original U.K. series. With the exception of one episode, the episodes also closely followed the same plot lines as the originals and were given the same titles.

Here’s an episode of the Australian version:

Are You Being Served? airs weekday afternoons at 3:30pm on Afternoon Tea.

To contact Heather:
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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Afternoon Tea is Maryland Public Television's weekday presentation of British programs.
Our host and Tea Lady is Heather Sanderson.
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