Mrs. Slocombe

Mrs. Slocombe
Mrs. Betty Slocombe
Mollie Sugden as Mrs Slocombe.jpg
Are You Being Served?
& Grace and Favour
Portrayed by Mollie Sugden
Duration 1972–1985; 1992-1993
First appearance Are You Being Served? (1972)
Last appearance Grace and Favour (1993)
Created by Jeremy Lloyd
David Croft
Occupation Saleswoman

Mrs. Betty Slocombe is a fictional character from the BBC One comedy show, Are You Being Served?. She was played by Mollie Sugden.



Mrs. Slocombe born Mary Elizabeth Jennifer Rachel Abergavenny Yiddell in 1926[1][2] in Blackpool. She is the Head of the Ladies Department. She frequently dyes her hair unusual colours such as lime green or orange. Throughout the series, her husband was alluded to have either left Mrs. Slocombe, or was possibly arrested by the Fraud Squad. In Grace & Favour, it was revealed that her husband, Cecil, had walked out on her one morning, and ended up a successful land developer. She lived with her cat, Tiddles, which she referred to as "my pussy;" this was the source of many a double entendre, most of which Mrs. Slocombe herself completely misses. Mrs. Slocombe also tries to sound refined, but when exasperated or annoyed, she reveals more than a trace of a Northern accent. Mrs. Slocombe's catch phrases were "...and I am unanimous in that..." and "Weak as water!" She often mispronounces long words, rendering, for example, "obstreperous" as "obstropulous" and "organism" as "orgasm" and "centimeters" as "centipedes". She spent much of her free time prowling public houses, roller rinks and discos with her friend Mrs. Axelby, but due to her middle age, men are less and less attracted to her, which she dismisses as politeness on the part of all men. A running joke on the part of Mr. Lucas is to suggest that Mrs. Slocombe was a bit wilder in her younger days. At one point she mentions a wartime experience of "being flung flat on me back on Clapham Common by a land mine", claiming "the German Air Force was responsible" (prompting Mr. Lucas to reply "all the other times she was flat on her back, the American Air Force was responsible").

She is very vain about her age, once claiming to be "only 46"[3] and another time claiming to be in her 30s[4]. However, in the episode "Fifty Years On", the staff determine that she was born in 1926[3], and in "Founders Day" Mr. Lucas announces her year of birth as 1926[2]. In "The Junior" Captain Peacock threatens to reveal that she worked as a nippy, implying that she was at least in her late teens during WWII.[5]

At various times, Mrs. Slocombe has (often while drunk) tried to flirt with various members of the male staff. Though she often sparred with Mr. Lucas, she was heard to remark that he has "very smooth hands" when he accidentally tries to straighten her stockings instead of a display dummy's. She has often cast an eye towards Captain Peacock, usually calling him "Stephen" in a conspiratorial tone and complimenting him in an effort to appeal to his masculine ego. At one point, when pretending to be locked in a passionate embrace with Peacock (in order to dissuade a woman Peacock had previously had a fling with), Mrs. Slocombe is overcome with the smell of Captain Peacock's cologne and comments that he is actually a rather handsome man (with the humorous result that when the "signal" is accidentally given, she pounces on Peacock with genuine passion). However, the majority of Mrs. Slocombe's attempts at seduction are directed towards Mr. Humphries, as she often fixates on him; at one point her (often thwarted) desires even led to her becoming obsessed, to which she turns to drink in an effort to drown her sorrows. She even believes that Mr. Humphries had proposed marriage to her at one point (with which the good-natured Mr. Humphries resignedly decides to play along, in order to spare her feelings); however, Mrs. Slocombe herself breaks off the "engagement" when she discovers that her previously missing cat (which prompted her to be despondent and thus fixate on Mr. Humphries) had in fact turned up with a litter of kittens.

Grace and Favour

Mollie Sugden reprised the role of Mrs. Slocombe for the spin-off show, Grace and Favour, in 1992.


  1. ^ "I'm Free! - The Complete Are You Being Served?". Orion Books. 1999. 
  2. ^ a b "Founder's Day". Are You Being Served?. 1977-03-11. No. 3, season 5.
  3. ^ a b "Fifty Years On". Are You Being Served?. 1976-05-05. No. 5, season 4.
  4. ^ "Heir Apparent". Are You Being Served?. 1981-05-07. No. 5, season 8.
  5. ^ "The Juinor". Are You Being Served?. 1979-11-19. No. 1, season 7.

External links

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