Mrs Betty Slocombe
Played by: Mollie Sugden
- Accidental Innuendo: Invoked In-Universe. She frequently refers to her pet cat as her "pussy", which leads to several humorous misunderstandings. ( IE-Mrs. Slocombe once mentioned to a truck driver carrying a shipment of dynamite that it "won a (cat show)prize every time she showed it." The man was so shocked that he crashed and—judging by the sound on Mr. Humphries' C.B. radio—triggered his cargo to explode.)
- Breakout Character: Her role was originally secondary to the characters of her assistant Miss Brahms and the mens' assistant Mr Lucas.
- Butt-Monkey: Has a tendency to find herself in various embarrassing situations.
- Catchphrase: "And I am unanimous in that!"
- Elderly Blue-Haired Lady: One of many colors!
- Grande Dame: That is, only until she gets angry or flustered.
- Have a Gay Old Time: She refers to her cat as her pussy, with the men sometimes misinterpreting it with the other meaning.
- Kaleidoscope Hair: The 25th anniversary book of the show has a graph of the colours and the number of episodes each is used.
- Lady Drunk: She is very fond of gin, and her drunken moments are a Running Gag throughout the years.
- Malaproper: The result of her Delusions of Eloquence.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Masculine girl to Mr. Humphries's feminine boy. Whenever the situation calls for it, she proves just how masculine she can be, for example when she backs up Humphries in "The Hero".
- Multicolored Hair: She wears the red, white, and blue of the UK flag for "Roots?" very appropriate for an episode on Old Mr Grace's genealogy.
- Never Mess with Granny: Was an air raid warden during WWII and as the end of "The Hero" showed, she still packs a mean right hook.
- Oop North: She slips into her Yorkshire accent whenever she is angry or flustered.
- Overly Long Name: Mary Elizabeth Jennifer Rachel Abergavenny Yiddell, Slocombe being her married name.
- Quick Nip: She often sips from a hip flask behind the counter... or, as in "The Erotic Dreams of Mrs Slocombe," assorted other objects!
- Reluctant Retiree: In "Goodbye Mrs Slocombe."
- Sitcom Archnemesis: Originally with Mr. Grainger who considered her and the entire Ladies Department as trespassers on his turf. As the show went on, this role fell more to Mr. Lucas and Spooner who never missed an opportunity to take jabs at Mrs. Slocombe for her prim mannerisms and hidden promiscuity.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy to Miss Brahms's girly girl, being both a battle axe and a former air raid warden with a mean right hook.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The color of her hair changes each episode, being dyed such colors as blue, pink, purple, and green, among others.
Captain Stephen Peacock
Played by: Frank Thornton
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite his penchant for philandering, Captain Peacock became incessantly jealous when he thought his wife was having an affair with Mr. Rumbold. In the final season, when faced with the option of staying with his wife or leaving her for a younger and more attractive woman, he ultimately chose his wife.
- Butt-Monkey: Literally in "The Hero."
- Casanova Wannabe: Due to his Awful Wedded Life.
- Chick Magnet: Some women (many of them young enough to be his daughter) have expressed a deep attraction to him such as Miss Belfridge, his one-time mistress Miss Bagnol, and occasionally Mrs. Slocombe. Lampshaded in the episode "Grounds For Divorce":Mr. Humphries: May I ask you a personal question? What exactly do you do to get them in this state?Captain Peacock: Well, that's just it: I don't do anything.
- Creepy Crossdresser: A heroic example in "Grounds for Divorce", when he's Disguised in Drag in an effort to force his aforementioned one-time mistress to swear off him for good. Deliberate Fan Disservice at its classiest.
- Gentleman Snarker: And he became more vocal about it in later years.
- Iconic Outfit: His Outdated Outfit, complete with red carnation.
- Multiple-Choice Past: We are never quite certain what he did in World War 2, although the evidence contradicts whatever he said. He nearly always wears the regimental tie of the Royal Army Service Corps, which was in charge of administration, barracks, stores and uniforms, and at least twice he admits to it.
- Not So Above It All / One Of Us: Though Captain Peacock is civil to Miss Featherstone despite her rudeness to her new colleagues in the Menswear and Ladies' departments, he shoots her (from offscreen) in the behind with a rubber band when she's not looking. He makes a show of calling out both Mr. Lucas and Mr. Humphries for the transgression; afterwards, Mr. Humphries tacitly compliments him for his accuracy:Mr. Humphries: By the way; nice shot.Captain Peacock: I thought so, too. *ahem* Whoever did it.
- Officer and a Gentleman: A parody of the trope, a fact which he is called out on In-Universe.
- Outdated Outfit
Mr Dick Lucas
Played by: Trevor Bannister
- Casanova Wannabe:
- Instead of a date, Hilarity Ensues in his attempt to ask Miss Brahms out in "Dear Sexy Knickers"
- His attempts to leave work early in "Cold Store" indicate how disastrous he can be in that department.
- Deadpan Snarker: Not so much "deadpan," but definitely snarky!
- Embarrassing First Name: The Reveal in "The Old Order Changes," as the staff have a meeting to discuss putting the staff on a First-Name Basis:Miss Brahms: Well, what about 'is first name?Mr Rumbold: Yes, uh, Mr Lucas, what is your first name?Mr Lucas: (looking very uncomfortable) Just call me Mr Lucas.Mr. Rumbold: Oh, dear, no, no, we can't have that! Come along, let's have it!Mr. Lucas: (Dramatic Pause) Dick.
- Had earlier been revealed to be James in series two's "The Clock".
- Hurricane of Excuses: For being late to work.
- Lame Excuse: Mr Lucas tries to fake being sick so he can meet a woman coming down from Oop North. Among other things, he tries the trick of sticking soap in his mouth (to cause foam). He put it under his tongue, but swallows it after Captain Peacock tells him to speak more clearly. He persuades Captain Peacock to send for the medical staff, as bubbles from his hiccups float by, prompting Captain Peacock to add:Captain Peacock: ...and a loofah.
- The Prankster: Lampshaded by Captain Peacock in "The Hero" upon discovery of the mechanical mouse:Cpt Peacock: Is this another one of your jokes, Mr Lucas?Mr Lucas: Not guilty, Captain Peacock!
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly man to Mr. Humphries's sensitive guy, being a Casanova Wannabe who isn't shy about wanting some excitement with a woman around his age.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: With Miss Brahms.
- You Have Failed Me: Hinted to have happened to him between Series 7 and Series 8 in "Sit Out".Mr. Rumbold: This is one of the lowest figures we have ever had.
Mr. Spooner: What was the one below that, then?
Captain Peacock: When we didn't sell anything all day and fired the junior.
Mr. Bert Spooner
Played by Mike Berry
- Butt-Monkey: Becomes a pop star in the final episode but then his voice gives out on live television and an attempt to lip sync to a prerecorded version of the song fails when a technical malfunction causes the recording to play at increased speed.
- Casanova Wannabe: A trait he shared with his predecessor Mr. Lucas.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Hidden Depths: Revealed in the penultimate episode to be a gifted singer and even becomes a burgeoning pop star.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly man to Mr. Humphries's sensitive guy. On the sliding scale, he's just above Mr. Lucas, being a Casanova Wannabe who dreams of becoming a pop star.
Miss Shirley Brahms
Played by: Wendy Richard
- Deadpan Snarker: She became the first to call Mr Rumbold "Jug Ears" within, um, earshot.
- She also shows a bit of a cheeky side towards Mrs. Slocombe.
- Distracted by the Sexy: In "Conduct Unbecoming," it was her gambit for Captain Peacock to avoid him see Mr Humphries arrive late.
- Iconic Item / Non-Uniform Uniform: In the latter half of the show's run, she frequently wore brooches and jangling multiple bracelets.
- Ms. Fanservice: The younger and more attractive of the two salesladies.
- She's Got Legs: Handy in order to Show Some Leg.
- Show Some Leg: Unafraid to do so when she wanted something from Captain Peacock.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: With Mr Lucas.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly girl to Mrs. Slocombe's tomboy, being noticeably sexier and longing to be a proper lady despite her working class origins.
Mr Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries
Played by: John Inman
- Ambiguously Gay/Ambiguously Bi: "I'm neither one way or the other" is a Funny Moment.
- The Barnum: Former joint Trope Namer. He knows how ridiculous his job is, and therefore he does it just as absurdly as he's supposed to. After all, he's never the one who has to face the consequences that would be the boss or the customers.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: He was usually the character to do this.
- Breakout Character: His role was originally secondary to the characters of his junior Mr Lucas and the ladies' assistant Miss Brahms.
- Camp Straight: What he really is, at least according to official sources related to the series.
- Catchphrase: "I'm free."
- Disguised in Drag: One of his trademarks.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Feminine boy to Mrs. Slocombe's masculine girl, being Ambiguously Bi (but officially, at least, Camp Straight) and very willing to crossdress when the situation calls for it (most of the time, anyway—"Front Page Story" is more a case of Dragged into Drag), plus the way he says "I'm free!"
- Momma's Boy: Often depicted speaking on the phone with his mother, who still views him as her little boy. A number of episodes mention him living with his mother, because she moved into his house after seperating from her husband. An episode covering the past of Young Mister Grace, reveals that he did not want to hire Humphries, but Humphries' mother convinced him to do so. (The episode left it ambiguous if she merely begged for it from Young Mister Grace, or she slept with him.)
- Prima Donna Director: Whenever the cast puts on a show.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive guy to the Menswear Junior's manly man. No matter who his foil is, he can always be counted on to be rather camp compared to the Junior.
Mr Ernest Grainger
Played by: Arthur Brough
- Big Eater: While he does not have the gargantuan appetite characteristic of this trope, compared to the other characters, he is The Determinator when it comes to finishing whatever is made in the Canteen!
- Cool Old Guy / Grumpy Old Man: He can be either one or, as he did in "Goodbye Mr Grainger," both in the same episode.
- Hidden Depths: He was an entertainer during World War II, and is fond of doing impersonations of Winston Churchill, whom he vaguely resembles, and did Churchill impressions when with the Entertainments National Service Association, the U.K.'s equivalent of the USO.
- Jabba Table Manners: Tends to loudly slurp his soup, much to his co-workers' disgust.
- Iconic Item: His tape measure.
- Put on a Bus: Was suggested to have retired off screen between seasons five and six. In actuality, Arthur Brough had died while season 6 was still in pre-productions, necessitating the introduction of Mr. Tebbs.
- Senior Sleep Cycle: His wake up call is "Mr. Grainger, are you free?"
- The Character Died with Him: On March 26, 1978, his wife died, and Arthur Brough announced he was quitting acting. Just when Lloyd and Croft were about to write him into the upcoming 6th series, Brough died on May 28, 1978, and Percival Tebbs filled Grainger's spot for Series 6.
Mr. Percival Tebbs
Played by James Hayter
- Control Freak: A subdued example. While not obsessive, Mr. Tebbs had a specific way he liked Menswear to be run and expected Mr. Humphrees and Lucas to comply without question. On another occasion, Captain Peacock chided him for one of the garment drawers being in disarray and Mr. Tebbs made an even bigger mess just to spite him.
- Grumpy Old Man: A trait he shared with his predecessor.
- Happily Married: When the department faced potential staff cuts, Mr. Tebbs was determined to keep his job as he was hoping to take his wife on a second honeymoon to her birth town.
- Put on a Bus: Only appeared for one season before retiring and was the only Senior of the Mens' department whose departure was addressed onscreen with a retirement party being thrown for him at the start of Series 7.
Played by Alfie Bass
- Almighty Janitor: Originally appeared as an applicant for the newly opened Junior salesman position following a reorganization of the Mens' department. As it turns out, Mr. Goldberg was previously a very successful tailor whose shop had just burned downnote . After gaining his new post and showing off his sales experience as well as the considerable client base that had followed him to Grace Brothers, he was promoted to Senior Salesman. He also works on the side as a freelance recruitment agent.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Played by Alfie Bass, who was born in England to Russian Jewish emigrants.
- Cool Old Guy: Was far more genial and relaxed than either Mr. Grainger or Tebbs. Mr. Humphrees, who had recently been promoted to Senior Salesman in the wake of Mr. Tebbs retirement, willingly stepped down to his old position so Mr. Goldberg could become the new Senior instead, admitting that Mr. Goldberg was far more suitable to the post.
Mr Beverly Harman
Played by: Arthur English
- Almighty Janitor: If something needs to be done, chances are Mr Harman can either do it or does it! (A little extra pay helps too!)
- Cool Old Guy: Was far more personable than his predecessor Mr. Mash but could still take a person down a notch if they attempted to be dismissive with him.
- Deadpan Snarker: To the sales staff.
- Embarrassing First Name: Earlier appearances gave him the first name Harry, though he later states it's Beverly. Subverted in that he doesn't seem to angst much about it.
- Hidden Depths: He has a long history of various jobs, from boxer to organist.
- Servile Snarker: When bringing tea to Mr Rumbold.
- Spot of Tea: He'll work through his tea break to get overtime! Part of his reponsibilities is to "put the kettle on."
- Weird Trade Union: He's the union rep!
- You Keep Using That Word: He calls male and female employees "brothers."
Played by Larry Martyn
- Almighty Janitor: Though not to the same level as his successor Mr. Harman.
- Dirty Old Man: Seemed to take far more pleasure in cleaning the female mannequins then was considered normal.
- She Is the King: In union meetings, he prefers to refer to everyone among the Grace Brothers staff as "brother" regardless of the gender of who he's addresssing.
- Sitcom Archnemesis: To Captain Peacock, who frequently scolded him for appearing on the sales floor when customers were present.
Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold
Played by Nicholas Smoth
- Happily Married: At first played straight as being the reason he never took much interest in his secretaries' appearance. Ultimately subverted in the sequel series Grace and Favour where it's revealed his wife left him for a younger man.
- In-Series Nickname: Frequently called "Jug-ears" behind his back.
- Literal-Minded: Has a tendency to take everything people tell him at face value which only muddles the issue even further.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: Has several gorgeous secretaries over the series run yet unlike Captain Peacock never flirts with them or becomes as flustered by them as Young Mr. Grace.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Generally clueless and prone to misunderstand whatever current crisis is plaguing his staff.
Played by Candy Davis
- Hello, Nurse!: Once made an ice pop melt just by modelling a bikini.
- Hidden Depths: Subverted. Was once revealed to have an O-level certificate in literature which might sound impressive to those not familiar with British Education standards of the 1980's but in reality just means that at most she passed the requirements for the course.
- Likes Older Men: Was more susceptible to Captain Peacock's charm than the other female characters and was occasionally suggested to be carrying on an affair with him.
- Ms. Fanservice: Replaced Miss Brahms as the top provider.
- Sexy Secretary: Just like all of Mr. Rumbold's aides, but Miss Belfridge stood out due to lasting two seasons.
Played by: Penny Irving
Young Mr. Grace's secretary from Series 4 to 7.
- Hello, Nurse!: She gets quite a bit of attention from the male staff at Grace Brothers.
The Grace Brothers' nurse
Portrayed by: Pat Astley (series 5), Vivienne Johnson (series 6-8)
The nameless, attractive nurse who tends to both Young and Old Mr. Grace.
- Hello, Nurse!: She has a seductive, husky voice, which attracts quite a bit of attention from the men.
Young Mr. Grace
Played by: Harold Bennett
- Benevolent Boss: Played with. He's always ready to praise his employees with his catchphrase and has several Pet the Dog moments. On the other hand; he's extremely stingy with pay raises and bonuses, is an unapologetic Dirty Old Man, and puts on an air of senility to manipulate those around him.
- Big Damn Heroes: During the climax of the movie, when the staff is caught in a firefight between revolutionaries and government forces during their vacation, Mr. Grace comes to their rescue in an armored car.
- But Not Too White: Revealed to have black ancestry in the season 8 Christmas special.
- Catchphrase: "You've all done very well!"
- Dirty Old Man: Never seen without the company of several curvaceous young nurses and/or secretaries that are young enough to be his granddaughters. In fact just the sight of a raised skirt is enough to send him into a seizure.
- Killed Offscreen: Between the end of Are You Being Served and its sequel series Grace and Favour, it was revealed Mr. Grace had died during a scuba dive when his secretary's bikini top came off and triggered a fatal heart attack.
- Hollywood Heart Attack: As a result of being an octogenarian frequently surrounded by curvaceous twenty somethings.
- Ironic Nickname: Actually a frail elderly man.Mrs. Grainger: THAT'S "Young" Mr. Grace!?Mr. Grainger: Old Mr. Grace doesn't get around much.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Seems to be a senile old man, but several times is suggested to be far sharper and more aware than others think.
- Put on a Bus: Turned over control of the store to his older brother in season 8 so he could indulge his bird watching hobby. A result of Real Life Writes the Plot due to Harold Bennett's ailing health.
Old Mr. Grace
Played by: Kenneth Waller
- Bad Boss: Downplayed. Old Mr. Grace is far stricter with the staff and is just as likely to Kick the Dog as he is to pet it. However, it's more a desire to keep the store running smoothly and effectively than out of any actual malice.
- But Not Too White: Revealed to have black ancestry in the season 8 Christmas special.
- Dirty Old Man: Shares his younger brother's love of young attractive girls but is a lot more active in his pursuit of them. Miss Brahms once withdrew from the store beauty pageant when it was revealed the winning prize was a weekend with Old Mr. Grace on his yacht.
- Kick the Dog: Once fired Mr. Humphries in series 10 when the latter attempted to petition him for aid on behalf of the others for transportation assistance. He changed his mind, though, on urging from Mr. Rumbold.
- Playing Gertrude: Kenneth Waller played the older Grace Brother but was actually several years younger than Harold Bennett.