Grace & Favour (American title: Are You Being Served? Again!) is a British sitcom and a spin-off of Are You Being Served? that aired on BBC1 for two series from 1992 to 1993 and marked the return of Are You Being Served? creators and writers Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft.
The idea of a spin-off was suggested by the cast of Are You Being Served? almost immediately after the original series ended in 1985. Lloyd and Croft liked the idea, but agreed that the department store format was exhausted and that any spin-off would require a change of location. Despite the enthusiasm of the original cast, it would be almost seven years before Lloyd and Croft brought them back to television.
The plot line that brought the cast from the store to the manor was considered remarkably topical, since it aired just a few months after the death of British publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, who was revealed to have borrowed heavily against his own employees' pensions.
Grace and Favour was different from Are You Being Served? in that it involved a continuous story arc, with certain plot elements, such as the relationship between Mr. Humphries and Mavis Moulterd unfolding throughout each episode. This in turn allowed the series to involve more complex storylines and subplots, making it possible for returning guest stars and location shooting, which was never done on Are You Being Served?
The series name is a double play on words. A "grace and favour" is a home or other property, owned by a monarch but given to the use of a faithful retainer upon his retirement, such as the retired characters in this series. Grace is also the name of the owner of Grace Brothers, the fictional department store where the characters previously worked, and the surname of Mr Grace, who was the previous owner of Millstone Manor.
Are You Being Served? cast member Mike Berry (Mr. Spooner) chose not to return. Arthur English (Mr. Harman) was also not brought in due to his retirement. Wendy Richard took time off filming for EastEnders to film. Also returning to their roles were John Inman, who played the effeminate Mr. Humphries; Mollie Sugden, as former head of ladieswear Mrs. Slocombe; Frank Thornton, who played the floorwalker Captain Peacock; and Nicholas Smith as the former head of the department, Cuthbert Rumbold. Coincidentally, these were the only five actors to have appeared in every single episode of Are You Being Served?
Several new repeat characters were added to the show. Joanne Heywood as Miss Lovelock, Billy Burden as farmer Maurice Moulterd, and Fleur Bennett as his daughter, Mavis, appeared in all 12 episodes. Michael Bilton, as Mr. Grace's solicitor, Mr. Thorpe, and his assistant, Miss Prescott, played by Shirley Cheriton, also held key roles over both series.
The new series has the elderly and womanizing "Young Mr Grace", head of Grace Brothers department store, recently deceased while scuba-diving on holiday in the Caribbean with his personal secretary, Miss Jessica Lovelock. As per the instructions in his will, the remaining workers in each department at Grace Brothers' closing sale find their pensions invested in different things. The members of the Men's and Ladies' Departments, along with Ms Lovelock, inherit the estate that is the locale of the show.
Young Mr Grace had invested their pension funds in a multitude of antiquated businesses, the largest of which is a country manor house called Millstone Manor. The will stipulates that they cannot sell the house and split the profits, but can use the property in the manner of their choosing. After a trip to Millstone Manor to view the property, where they also learn their pensions are minuscule, they decide to live in the manor in order to run it as an inn and live off the proceeds. Miss Lovelock, given accommodation in the grooms' quarters and charge of the horses, also lives at the manor much to the distress of Mrs Slocombe and Miss Brahms. Captain Peacock is not so bothered, however.
The series begins just after the funeral of Mr Grace, and quickly brings the cast to Millstone Manor. There they find Mr Rumbold having trouble trying to find new staff after telling the previous staff "in no uncertain terms" that if they did not straighten up they could leave – and they left. With time running out, the old Grace Brothers employees are obliged to "stand in" for the staff in order to have their picture taken as the inn staff for a travel brochure. Soon they find that they are running the inn themselves with the help of Mr Moulterd, who manages the manor's farm, and his daughter Mavis, who helps out at the manor.
With Mr Humphries forced by circumstance to share a bed with Mavis, he finds that she develops a bit of a crush on him. This series of events leads all of the cast to assume they are having an affair, which flatters Mr Humphries, though he denies any such goings-on. Despite these events, Mr Humphries continues to be rather ambivalent to the idea of a relationship with anyone. A young man from the village vies with Humphries for Mavis' affection, and frequently attempts to intimidate him by threatening him with violence.
On her first day in the country, Mrs Slocombe tries to move a gypsy's wagon that blocked the road and ends up charged with wagon theft, narrowly avoiding a charge of indecent exposure since there was "just a flash" as the out-of-control wagon raced past the post office. At her trial, all of her colleagues are called as witnesses, but it is Mr Moulterd who ends up winning the case for her. Mrs Slocombe is grateful, despite her irritation that he brings up their sexual relationship during the War, which she insists never happened. Also notable is the unexpected appearance of the oft alluded to, but never-before-seen Mr Slocombe, from whom Mrs Slocombe seeks to hide her identity.
|Nº||Title||Air date||Tape date|
|1||"The Inheritance"||10 January 1992||1991|
|Young Mr. Grace has died and the store has closed. On behalf of the pension fund, Mr. Grace acquired a Tudor manor house with farm which at the moment is being run as a country house hotel. Being the only source of pension money for the retired staff, they all decide to visit for the weekend to investigate its possibilities.|
|2||"Under Arrest"||17 January 1992||TBA|
|The staff decide to take over Millstone Manor and run it for themselves. The home farm, run by Maurice Moulterd and his daughter Mavis, provides fresh eggs for breakfast, but Mrs. Slocombe gets a shock whilst collecting them. Mr. Humphries and Mavis "to-and-fro" in the woodshed.|
|3||"The Court Case"||24 January 1992||23 November 1991|
|Mrs. Slocombe finds herself in court charged with stealing a gypsy cart. Captain Peacock and the others travel to town on the back of Moulterd's pig cart. Once in court the staff come forward as character witnesses.|
|4||"Looking For Staff"||31 January 1992||TBA|
|A group of American tourists, the hotel's first guests, are due to arrive at the weekend but there are still very few replies to Mr. Rumbold's advert for staff. The only alternative is for them all to knuckle down and try to make the place presentable.|
|5||"Things That Go Bump In the Night"||7 February 1992||TBA|
|A photograph is organized for the hotel brochure. The staff decide to fill the vacant positions at the Manor themselves. Something ghastly (with a bald head and big ears) walks about the manor on a dark and stormy night.|
|6||"American Tourists"||14 February 1992||TBA|
|A group of American tourists arrive for the weekend as part of their European tour. The former shop workers do their best, but the Americans are expecting a church service and the traditional Harvest Thanksgiving dance.|
|Nº||Title||Air date||Tape date|
|7||"The Gun"||4 January 1993||May 1992|
|Mrs. Slocombe's cat, Tiddles, gets gummed up. A gun discovered by Captain Peacock brings the riot police to Millstone Manor where the criminal records of such notorious characters as "Knuckles Rumbold" are revealed.|
|8||"The Cricket Match"||11 January 1993||TBA|
|The staff organize a cricket match against the townspeople. The match is marred by the jealousy of Malcolm Heathcliff, who sees Mr. Humphries as a competitor for Mavis' affections. The highlights of the match are a fantastic dive by Mrs. Slocombe and a winning stroke of Mr. Humphries.|
|9||"Mr. Slocombe"||18 January 1993||TBA|
|Mrs. Slocombe's long-lost husband pays an unexpected visit after an absence of 42 years, forcing Mrs. Slocombe into hiding. When the staff find that he intends to purchase the hotel, they temporarily expand the staff to make the idea seem unprofitable.|
|10||"A Mummified Cat"||25 January 1993||20 July 1992|
|Mr. Rumbold, Mrs. Slocombe, Mr. Humphries and Miss Brahms plant potatoes. Captain Peacock removes a petrified cat from a niche in the attic, precipitating a series of supernatural events.|
|11||"The Mongolians"||1 February 1993||TBA|
|A Mongolian tour group gets a cultural extravaganza from the staff at Millstone Manor. The high point of their visit occurs on the presentation of the ballet by Mr. "Sergei" Humphries and Miss "Natasha" Lovelock.|
|12||"The Darts Match"||8 February 1993||TBA|
|After Mr. Rumbold complains that he gets no respect, the staff vote to share authority democratically. The staff play darts against the local team at the village pub. Captain Peacock leads a commando raid to rescue a flock of sheep, when the staff, expecting them to be breeding stock, discovers that the man they sold the sheep to, plans to sell them to the knackers.|
|DVD Title||Number of Discs||Year||Ep. #||DVD release|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Complete Series 1 & 2||2||1992 – 1993||12||7 September 2004||23 May 2016||6 March 2009|