UnScripts:The 'Are You Being Served?' election special
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In the run-up to the 2001 General election, spin-doctor-in-chief, Alistair Campbell, looked around for ways to improve Tony Blair's image with the general public. It was then, with John Inman ailing, that a revival of Are You Being Served? was suggested. The opportunity was too good to miss and, though he expressed serious misgivings over the project, media-whore Tony Blair agreed to cover the role of Mr Humphries.
The opening sequence
Mr Humphries (Tony Blair) takes the lift to the Menswear department to the familiar refrain:
|“||Ground floor Pensions,
Science and Innovation,
Housing, Transport, Treasury,
Environment and Food...going up
|“||First floor Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland,,
Children, Schools and Families,
Lord Privy Seal...going up
|“||Second floor Justice,
Health and Education,
Ministry of Defence,
Culture, Media, Sport. Going down
Mr Humphries/Blair – Oh, I love it when they say going down!
Captain Peacock – Mr Humphries, you are twenty five minutes late, and you were twenty five minutes late last Tuesday.
Mr Humphries/Blair – I’m sorry, Captain Peacock. I had to stay behind to give the bin-men what-for. Mother's much too frail to take the dustbin to the front of the house these days. The council say the bin-men should pick it up from the ginnel behind the house but there hasn’t been hide nor hair of a man up my back passage in weeks!
Captain Peacock – Well, see to it that it doesn’t happen again.
Mr Humphries/Blair – Don’t worry. I spoke to Cyril, the driver. Lovely boy! He said he’d make sure to squeeze me in next time.
Mr Humphries/Blair walks across to the counter and picks up his tape measure.
Mrs Slocombe – Pay him no mind, chuck. The old misery.
Mr Humphries/Blair – I don’t mind, Mrs Slocombe. He’s only being fair. Tough on late-coming, tough on the causes of late-coming, that’s Captain Peacock.
Mrs Slocombe – But he’s so unsympathetic. Only last week I was ten minutes late because I was up all night.
Mr Lucas – Were you unwell, Mrs Slocombe?
Mrs Slocombe – My pussy had distemper, I had to stay up half the night stroking it.
Mr Lucas – No wonder it’s bald.
Captain Peacock – Mr Lucas, perhaps you'd be so kind as to deal with this gentlemen. He needs an inside-leg measurement.
Mr Humphries/Blair – I’m free, Captain Peacock. Free at the point of delivery, paid for by taxation in a rational, equitable manner that’s fair to everyone.
Scene Two; Shop-floor
Mr Rumbold enters.
Mr Rumbold – Young Mr Grace would like to see you all in his office on a matter of some urgency.
Miss Brahms – Here, I wonder what he wants.
Mr Lucas – Maybe he wants to give us all a raise.
Mr Humphries/Blair – It wouldn’t be the first time an old man had offered me money to do a job for him.
Mrs Slocombe – Maybe he wants to make one of us redundant. What will we do then?
Mr Humphries/Blair – We could pray, I suppose.
Mr Lucas – I didn’t know you were religious, Mr Humphries.
Mr Humphries/Blair – In the current circumstances, I don't do religion. But a good friend of mine was a priest once.
Miss Brahms – Don’t you go to church any more then?
Mr Humphries/Blair - Not since he was de-frocked. I still see him at the club on a Friday though, in his little lederhosen.
Mr Lucas – Catholic, was he?
Mr Humphries/Blair - Well, he spent a lot time on his knees
Blair – Alistair, I just can’t say these lines any more. It goes against all my moral beliefs!
Alistair Darling – Listen, you smug little shit. I made you! If you want to go back to where I found you - flipping burgers for McDonald’s, then that’s fine with me. The only line you’ll have to remember then will be ‘Would you like fries with that?’
Blair – But this is making me look ridiculous. How will that help me get re-elected?
Alistair Darling – It’s making you seem more human. Anyway, I’ve asked the writers to let you improvise in the next scenes, so make sure you get the policy-message out there to the electorate.
Blair – Whatever you say, Boss.
Scene Three; Young Mr Grace's Office
Young Mr Grace – You may be wondering why I asked you all to come, so I won’t waste your time. I’ve had the monthly sales returns for your department and you’ve all done very well.
Miss Brahms – Thank you, Mr Grace.
Mr Lucas – Does that mean we’ll be getting a raise?
Mr Grace’s heart-monitor bleeps urgently, his nurse leans over to help, inadvertently exposing her cleavage and causing the bleeping to accelerate. As she bends to reset the heart-monitor she exposes her stocking tops to the camera.
Mr Humphries/Blair – Oh, you don’t know where to look, do you?
Mr Lucas – I do!
Mr Rumbold – I think Mr Grace merely wished to congratulate you all on a job well done and to encourage you to keep it up!
Mr Humphries/Blair – Well, I’m not sure I can keep it up. I’m not a young man any more.
Mr Grace (Breathing heavily) – And I wanted to pass on some sad news about my previous assistant, Nurse Diana.
Mr Rumbold – Yes, it seems that after leaving Mr Grace’s employment she found herself cruising the streets of Paris in her millionaire playboy boyfriend's Mercedes. They crashed in a tunnel and I’m afraid she’s passed over.
Mr Humphries/Blair – Er, look. It falls to me to say that Diana was the people's nurse and that is how she will stay, how she will remain in our hearts and our memories for ever.
Captain Peacock – Just stick to the script!
Scene Four; Shop-floor
Mr Harmen (played by Gordon Brown) enters in trademark brown overcoat.
Captain Peacock - Mr Harmen, I have told you before that you are not to appear in the public areas.
Mrs Slocombe - I'd rather not see him in my private areas either.
Mr Harmen/Brown - No chance of that! Anyway, I'm here on official shop-steward business. We heard you'd all been given a bit of extra.
Mr Humphries/Blair - Chance would be a fine thing, I haven't had a bit of the ordinary in months.
Mr Harmen/Brown - You mean Mr Grace didn't give you a raise?
Miss Brahms - No, he did not. Now I'm going to have to carry on going out with the projectionist at the Roxy - it's the only way I can afford to see the Sunday matinee.
Mr Lucas - And you'll have to keep on seeing the butcher from the High Street.
Miss Brahms - Yes, and the green-grocer on Argyll Street and the other one on Chester Road.
Mr Humphries/Blair - Well, that's one way to make sure you never go short of meat and two veg!
Mr Harmen/Brown - Well you may not have got a raise, but the furniture department did and that's against all union agreements, that is.
Miss Brahms - But that's not fair! Furniture had a two for one sale. How are we meant to sell as much as a department with a sales promotion?
Mr Harmen/Brown - Well you know what this calls for, don't you?
Mr Humphries/Blair - I think it's high time that every man stood erect, shoulder to shoulder...
Mr Lucas - Well you would say that, wouldn't you.
Mr Humphries/Blair - ... shoulder to shoulder with our allies in Haberdashery and invaded the Furniture department.
Mrs Slocombe - You can't possibly be suggesting we go to war! Whatever for?
Mr Humphries/Blair - It's not by choice, it's our duty. Furniture have discounts of mass destruction. I've said it before, the priority of my administration of menswear will be invasion, invasion, invasion.
Mrs Slocombe - Well, I'm against the idea. And I am unanimous in that.
Scene Five, Canteen
Captain Peacock - I can't believe you made us all invade the furniture department when there were no discounts of mass destruction there at all.
Mr Humphries/Blair - We may not have found discounts of mass destruction but that doesn't mean that Furniture weren't planning to use them in the future.
Mrs Slocombe - You only wanted to go because you fancy George from Haberdashery.
Mr Humphries/Blair - I ask you to accept one thing. Hand on heart I did what I thought was right. I may have been wrong. That is your call. I think the British public will tell you that I'm a pretty straight guy.
Mr Lucas - Now I've heard everything!
Mr Harmen/Brown - You should go, mate. The punters don't trust you no more.
Mr Humphries/Blair - I can only go one way. I’ve not got a reverse gear.
Mr Harmen/ Brown - Then you should get out quickly before you bring the whole of menswear down round your ears. I tell you what, I could probably step in, you know, if you like.
Mr Humphries/Blair - That's a lovely offer, Mr Harmen. Because I've spent the next six years' takings, made menswear universally unpopular with all our neighbours and the expense of occupying Haberdashery will be crippling. Plus, I have an appointment with a Lebanese Masseur - they say he does wonderful things with his hands. Tatty bye!
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