Timeless would not even begin to roughly describe this masterpiece of British Comedy. This great old classic still stands as a terrific example of fine writing and acting.
My introduction to this great classic was through a close friend and his Dad. They explained to me at length the concept of the series, set in a department store which had some similar traits as that of a long-gone store that was once the centerpiece of our hometown’s downtown. A store that sold quality goods at reasonable prices. A place where the tradespeople who sold them knew where, how and who each item came from.
Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft had drawn upon their life-experiences of working in the retail clothing trade in the UK. The cast was said to have portrayed loosely based versions of actual people in the business. My Grandmother who was also a fan of the show, insisted that she was served at retail locations by people who had similar characteristics as some of the characters from this show.
I am sure she was not the only one.
Lloyd and Croft were taking sitcom writing to newer levels and in some instances a bit further than levels already set higher by the Monty Python crew. Their brilliant use of double entendres and the mystery of the true orientation of Mr. Humphries (John Inman), were just two examples of what made this show great.
As I referenced earlier, the show’s best quality is the fact that it is known for being timeless. Fans can watch a majority of the episodes as if they are watching them again for the very first time. The jokes still seem fresh and the writing continues to teach something to those aspiring to work in the business. It is a classic Britcom with so much to offer the viewing public. It continues to find new fans thanks to re-airings on public television and with several clips being made available online.
Towards the end of this show’s run it became evident that some of the ideas were quite a bit over-the-top. Elaborate musical and dance numbers combined with ideas that may have seemed a bit rushed likely may have spelled the end of the series.
A boxed-set of the series has been available for sometime and it is a worthy investment for any fan of comedy. The special that accompanies the set contains interviews with Lloyd, Croft and the entire cast. It is an interesting look into an interesting show that I know will be shown again through Public Television for generations to come.