Are You Being Served? Christmas Specials

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of May 28, 2018

Tea Time Tidbit

Frank Thornton as Captain Peacock
and Nicholas Smith as Mr. Cuthbert

Christmas is coming around half a year before it’s due on Wednesday, May 30th, when we’ll have two back-to-back Are You Being Served? Christmas Specials! The first, Christmas Crackers, airs on Wednesday, May 30th at 3:30pm. This is the 1975 special in which Young Mr. Grace decides it’ll improve Grace Brothers’ Christmas sales if the floor staff dress up. This particular episode was the last episode in which we saw Mr. Mash, the department store’s maintenance man.

Tea Time Tidbit

Larry Martyn as Mr. Mash

While making AYBS, Larry Martyn, the actor who played Mr. Mash, was simultaneously appearing in another hit comedy, Spring & Autumn. Both shows began airing in 1972 and for the first three AYBS series Martyn somehow managed to perform in both shows. When Spring & Autumn went into a third series, however, the schedule wasn’t so conducive and, owing to his commitment to Spring & Autumn, Martyn had to leave AYBS.

It’s hard to believe Martyn, who died far too young in 1994 at the age of 60, was only 35 years old when he first played Mr. Mash. The make-up artists did a great job of making him look older. For a glimpse of what Martyn looked like without his ageing make-up, here’s a video clip of the actor with his AYBS co-star Frank Thornton, who played Captain Peacock. The video is from a 1974 public service announcement for road safety.

Tea Time Tidbit

Trevor Bannister as Mr. Lucas as Punch

The next Christmas Special airs on Thursday, June 1st and it’s the 1979 Punch & Judy show episode. It’s a classic! Mr. Lucas and Miss Brahms play Punch and Judy, Mrs. Slocombe plays a policewoman, Captain Peacock plays The Devil and Mr. Humphries directs. That episode was Trevor Bannister’s last show. Despite the show’s huge success – and at the time of Bannister’s leaving, AYBS was at its most popular – it still filmed only seven weeks a year. This meant that the actors in the show had to supplement their incomes with other work.

Tea Time Tidbit

Mike Berry as Mr. Spooner in
AYBSs final episode, The Pop Star

When Bannister was offered a long touring job that conflicted with the AYBS Friday recording schedule, he asked the BBC if it would be possible to change the recording day to a Sunday so that he could do the tour as well. The BBC were unable, or unwilling, to accommodate Bannister’s schedule and so – purely for financial reasons – Bannister was forced to leave AYBS.

Bannister’s replacement in AYBS was Mike Berry, who played Mr. Spooner. Berry stayed with the series until it’s last episode, The Pop Star, in 1985, and you can see that episode on Tuesday, May 29th on Afternoon Tea.

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117

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