Sexy Knickers on the Costa Plonka

John Inman in Are You Being Served? (1977)

Young Mr. Grace (Harold Bennett) has decided to close Grace Brothers whilst much needed renovation work is done on the old place. Whilst shut he sends his staff on a little vacation to the Costa Plonka where they not only find the accommodation at Don Bernardo Palace Hotel a little lacking but also find themselves caught up in a Spanish revolution.

Having been born back in 1972 in a small town where there wasn't a lot to do I, like I imagine many, found my evenings filled by what ever was on TV, which if memory served me right consisted of just 3 channels. As such a big part of my childhood was watching "Are You Being Served?" and I have to say that as I started to watch the 1977 spin-off movie of the same name I felt like I was a child again, sitting in my pyjamas and dressing gown as I tucked into a Satsuma watching an episode of this British comedy filled with innuendo. Now I have to admit that whilst many a gag put a smile on my face and it made me feel young again I know very well that the humour is very much of the era and as such anyone who stumbled across "Are You Being Served?" now for the first time might be offended by the sexual innuendo.

Wendy Richard and Frank Thornton in Are You Being Served? (1977)

Unfortunately whilst the opening scenes of "Are You Being Served?" are full of the humour which made the sitcom so popular it isn't enough to make this work as a movie. The trouble really comes from taking the characters out of their familiar setting as it simply doesn't work. It isn't that the Costa Plonka is mainly a studio set, that actually keeps this grounded in being a sitcom, it is the lack of a decent storyline that makes it feel like it is stretching things out. Although in truth some of the gags are so brilliant that you don't always mind the lack of a decent storyline.

There is something else which for me is missing from "Are You Being Served?", it is atmosphere and I believe where as the sitcom was filmed in front of a studio audience this movie spin-off wasn't. I suppose in a way it lacks some of the spontaneity which came from the likes of John Inman, Mollie Sugden and Wendy Richard feeding back on the laughs from the audience. As such whilst they all deliver the wonderful gags you feel that the whole thing lacks the naturalness and energy of the show.

What this all boils down to is that I have mixed feelings towards "Are You Being Served?" this movie spin-off. Whilst a lot of the innuendo filled gags still made me laugh and took me back to my childhood the whole thing struggles to come together as a movie.

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