The characters are all loosely based on my work colleagues at the time. Because Jersey is not part of the EU these will never be shown on UK television but with a bit of sleuthing you can find all the episodes on youtube. In the meantime, to let you guys in on the creative process that guys like me and Dan Harmon go through, here’s the screenplay.
Are You Being Served?
The opening credits are a bit like the start of Dallas with swipes and shit. There are a couple of blocks on each screen. One, the big one has a character doing their trademark expression.
First is Hector, the boss of the shop, he is often bamboozled. In his square he’ll be all with his arms up, agitated and confused. Swipe to Mary. Mary will at first be all, “hey, get that camera off me!” then she’ll wink coquettishly at the camera and wink again and blow a kiss. The other squares in each screen are shots of a shop, people laughing. Bread etc. Finally a full screen of the star of the show. The male shop assistant, Steve McArmstrong. Handsome but not unbelievably so. He’s behind a counter watching what’s going on. You don’t know what’s going on, you can’t see it, the camera is on him but he’s overseeing it. You see him shake his head, but smiling, then he throws his head back and laughs and points.
The music is an awesome original composition. Quite melancholy.
INTERIOR SHOP. DAYTIME.
Steve is standing behind the counter chatting to Mary. Mary is laughing and filling up the cigarette display. Suddenly a door bursts open and Hector shoots through. The audience applaud.
Steve: Hey, it’s Hector, our boss!
Mary: Hello Hector
Hector: Hey you guys I have just heard from head office and they are thinking about closing this shop because our performance is so bad.
Mary: There’s nothing wrong with Steve’s performance!
Mary strokes Steve’s arm. Steve winks at her.
Hector: I am serious you peeps. They are going to close our shop or another shop!
Steve: Relax, Hecotrino. I know that you have come over from Uruguay but that’s no reason to get all excited.
Hector: Me? I’m a no excited. Why you say I excited. I not excited.
Hector becomes increasingly excited, he starts waving his hands around in a foreign manner.
Steve: Hector, chillax, dude!
Hector goes back through the door muttering and jesticulating. Steve points at the closed door and shakes his head.
Mary: What do you think we should do? It will be terrible if they close the shop.
Steve: Why, will you miss me?
Mary strokes Steve’s arm.
Mary: It’s not just that. I am saving up and need the money for an operation.
Steve: An operaton?! Well that settles it. This shop is not going to close, mark my words. Let the people in the other shop have their shop closed.
Mary: Oh Steve! But what can we do?
Steve is staring off, formulating a plan.
Steve: You just leave it to me.
Mary: I hope so!
INTERIOR HECTOR’S OFFICE
Hector is sitting behind his desk reading a letter and muttering and looking frightened. There’s a knock on the door.
Hector: Yes? Come a da in!
Steve opens the door.
Steve: Is this a good time, muchacho?
Hector: No, this is not a good time did you not hear what I said before in the shop?
Hector waves the letter around wildly.
Steve: I did hear that and that’s what I want to talk to you about.
Hector: I hope so.
Mary is stroking her flat stomach and gazing sadly out of the window.
INTERIOR HECTOR’S OFFICE
Hector: I don’t know Steve, you really think that will work?
Steve: I bet my bottom dollar and what other choice do we have? When you came over here from Uruguay and became boss of this shop you didn’t just quit even though it was a long way from home, did you?
Hector doesn’t respond
Steve: Did you?!
Hector: No I did not a just give up thanks mainly to you who started working here four years ago.
Steve: Thank you but only you battled your drug addiction. I maybe steered you in the right direction but it was you who did the hard work.
Hector: I don’t even know why you work here with all your qualification.
Steve: Don’t you remember, Hector? I explained it all to you previously.
Hector: Oh yes, I remember now.
The door bursts open. Fabian stumbles in.
Fabian: Zut alors! I am desole Mr Hector and Steve but I was putting coal in the boot of Monsiuer Grange’s car and I broke it, mamma mia!
Fabian is practically crying
Steve extends a hand to stay his boss and turns his swivel chair to face Fabian.
Steve: Mr Grange drives a Volkswagen Beetle, doesn’t he?
Fabian: Si monsiuer, ai, ai, ai!
Fabian is pacing.
Steve: So if you put the coal in the boot then you actually put it in his engine!
Fabian: I’m so sorry Mr Steve!
Steve turns to Hector and shakes his head.
Steve: Don’t worry, Hector, I’ll go and sort it out.
Steve confidently leaves the office. Fabian follows him twisting his cap in his hand. Hector throws his arms in the air.
EXTERIOR CAR PARK DAYLIGHT.
Steve’s sleeves are rolled up, he is wiping oil from his hands on a cloth. He then closes the boot of the Beetle which has the engine in.
Steve: That should fix it.
Mr Grange: Fix it, I bet it’s better than ever now!
Steve: Well I don’t know about that.
Mr Grange fumbles in his inside jacket pocket.
Mr Grange: I must give you something.
Steve: Oh no, I couldn’t accept anything.
Mr Grange: Please, let me do something for you, anything.
Mr Grange: Anything.
Steve wipes his hands some more, thinking and nodding.
INTERIOR HECTOR’S OFFICE
Hector is slowly walking around, tenderly stroking the filing cabinet and picking up nicknacks that he places in a box on his desk. Mary enters.
Mary: So this is it?
Hector: I guess so. Steve said he had a plan but I haven’t seen him all day. He must have got a new job. I am not surprised he will always land on his feet.
Mary: Don’t say that! Steve wouldn’t just… just leave us.
Mary strokes her stomach again. Her eyes are filling with tears.
There’s a knock on the door. Hector and Mary shoot expectant glances at each and that at the door. Steve enters carrying a big bag.
Steve: Did anybody order somebody who could save a shop from being absorbed into a nearby shop?
Hector: You didn’t!
Mary: Don’t mess with our emotions like this.
Steve, using all of his core strength heaves the bag onto the desk.
Steve: Are you ready for this?
Steve unzips the large royal blue bag with black straps.
Mary’s eyes widen as she looks inside. Hector actually rubs his eyes in disbelief.
Hector: But… but… how? I mean? You did it!
Mary: Oh Steve!
Steve shakes his head, smiling and then points at the two other people and throws his head back a laughs.
NINE INCH NAILS play over the simple black and white closing credits.
The Simon Who Came To Tea
INTERIOR SHOP DAYLIGHT
Steve McArmstrong is saying something to Mary who is laughing deliriously. Just then Hector bursts out of his office. The audience applaud.
Hector: Oh no issa terrible!
Hector is upset and waving a letter. He drops the letter and it gently see-saws to the floor. He covers his eyes with one hand and slides it down his face covering his eyes with his other hand and repeating this. When his hand slides completely down his face and off his chin it goes back to his eyes. When his hands pass over his mouth it makes a barely audible wibble.
Steve: What’s the problem, Hectorooney?
Hector: Issa my boss, Simon, he’s a coming for a tea but I a cannot a tell ‘im I live in a your garage.
Hector pronounces ‘garage’ HARRACKA.
Mary: He’s going to expect you to live in a house, for sure.
Steve (nodding): Or an apartment.
Hector: Is over, man, I go back to Uruguay. Back to being a magician.
Steve: Not so fast, Hector. Don’t book that plane ticket just yet!
Steve stares off to the side, his eyes are narrowed, he’s formulating a plan.
Mary: I hope so.
INTERIOR STEVE’S KITCHEN
Steve’s kitchen is modern and contemporary. The tap is like a hose, you can pull it out and the fridge has a digital display. Black granite too. It’s like an advert.
Hector: You really think this will work, Steve?
Steve: What choice do we have? You said that Simon has never been to your… my garage, right?
Hector: That is true.
Steve: So, he won’t know that this is not your kitchen and you won’t be sent back to Uruguay. Might even be a pay rise in it for you.
Hector: If there is I will give it to you.
Steve: Thanks mate but give it to charity. Money means nothing to me. I prefer the sound of the waves. The laughter of children or a dog’s wagging tail.
Mary: Oh Steve!
Mary strokes Steve’s arm but Steve is emotional. His strong lips are quivering. He stands.
Steve: Come on Hector out of those clothes.
INTERIOR HECTORS GARAGE
One side of the garage looks like a shanty home, the other half is a gym with massive weights. Mary and Hector are sitting in the other side. Hector is in his underpants. He is undernourished.
Hector: I hope he do it, man!
Mary: If anybody can, it’s Steve!
INTERIOR STEVE’S KITCHEN NIGHT TIME.
Steve is wearing Hector’s clothing which is remarkably similar to that of a bullfighter with gold patterns and tight trousers. They actually look better on Steve. Steve is also wearing a fake moustache similar in style to Hector’s real one.
Steve (to himself): Right, the gravadlax needs another ten, the venison should be rare. Scallops and black pudding just need caramelizing and then for dessert I’ve made a tiramasu.
Steve looks at his watch. The doorbell rings.
Steve: Right on time!
INTERIOR STEVE’S DINING ROOM.
Steve: Hey, you a must a take a seat a here in a my a dining a room.
Steve pulls out a chair. His dining table is like something out of when they had knights. Simon sits down but he’s looking at Steve. Steve doesn’t keep his face still. Moves it around so Simon cannot get a lock on.
Steve: I go get your food!
Simon (suspicious): Hmmmmm.
Steve plates up awesome food excellently. His plates are Jamie Oliver ones. Out of the kitchen window he can see a light in the garage. He gives it a thumbs-up, not knowing if anybody is looking and then he carries the plates like a top waiter – one on his arm – out to the dining room
Hector is biting his nails.
Simon is leaning back with his hands on his stomach. In front of him is an empty glass that clearly once contained tiramisu.
Simon: Well Hector. I was wrong about you. I came here to fire you but after that spread? I’d be a moron to not give you a pay rise instead.
Steve: Why a fankayou very mush eez a bin a ma pleshure.
Simon: I mean it, Hector. There’s just something about you in real life that doesn’t come through in your letters.
Steve chuckles at this, if only Simon knew!
Simon: I guess I should be going.
Steve: Si señor, I call you a cab.
Steve (shouting): You a cab!
Simon takes a few seconds to get the joke but when he does he explodes into laughter. Steve joins in laughing and pointing at Simon.
The laughter from the dining room is so loud it carries over into the garage. Hector hears it first and cocks his head as if listening to a bird in a tree. Then he nods and high-fives Mary.
NINE INCH NAILS play over the simple black and white closing credits.
INTERIOR SHOP DAYTIME
Steve McArmstrong is gently stroking a white dove that has somehow got in the shop. Mary watches with her hands clasped beneath her chin. Steve takes the dove to the automatic doors which Shush open. He releases the dove. Just then Hector bursts out of his office. The audience applaud. He looks even more foreign and upset than usual. He is waving around a newspaper.
INTERIOR SHOP DAYLIGHT
Steve McArmstrong is moving cases of catfood about easily. The sleeves of his shirt are rolled up to his armpits. Mary is leaning on the counter watching him. Just then, Hector bursts out of his office. The audience applaud. Hector is waving the monitor from his computer like a monkey.
Hector: Ah-ha, ah-ho! Issa terrible! I have a data with a chica!
Steve: A date with a woman? Why is that terrible, Hectoribblys? I thought that’s what you wanted and why you joined the dating website in the first place.
Mary: Yeah, I thought that too.
Mary and Steve exchange puzzled glances.
Hector: It is but, Steve, you-a wrote-a my profile and I-a think a-she a love a you a instead. Ay!
Mary slams her fist onto the counter.
Mary: I knew this would happen!
Steve holds his hands up in a calming manner.
Steve: Everybody relax. This can still work.
Hector: I never find love!
Steve stares of into the distance. His eyes are narrowed, he’s formulating a plan.
Steve: Hector, get me a gun, a hairpiece and and a flag… one of those promotional Rice Krispie ones. For the Paralympics. And a banana.
Hector: You have a plan?
Steve: Not yet, but I’m getting there.
Mary: I hope so!
LONDON CALLING BY THE CLASH.
Montage LONDON. Double decker buses, black people, pigeons. Fruit stalls. Statues. telephone boxes. More black people. Taxis.
LONDON EXTERIOR DAYTIME
Steve is standing near Big Ben discretely eating a banana and wearing a wig. He sees what he’s been waiting for and carefully places the banana skin on the pavement. Damess Lord Tanny Grey Thomspon is approaching in her wheelchair. She is going at quite a lick.
Steve waves the flag and points to the Paralympic symbol in it. Tanny smiles but, distracted, doesn’t see the banana skin and she hits it and spins out of control. There is a shot with the camera fixed to her spinning chair pointing at her panicky face. She spins into some undergrowth. Steve removes the gun from the inside of his jacket and checks it’s loaded. He then removes the safety, puts it back in his jacket and after a quick look around he enters the undergrowth.
INTERIOR HECTOR’S OFFICE EVENING.
Hector is looking in the mirror pulling at his bow tie which is a mess.
Mary: Calm down, Hector.
Hector: Is nearly seven! Time a for my date and where is a Steve?
Mary: There’s still time. Don’t write him off just yet but you should really be able to talk to a woman on your own.
Hector: No, I need Steve.
Mary: We all need Steve.
Mary strokes her stomach. Hector looks at his watch and then he looks at himself in the mirror.
Hector: I no go you phone and cancel.
Mary: Are you sure this might be your one chance for love.
Hector: I am sure please phone and cancel. With no Steve.
There is a knock at the door. Mary and Hector shoot expectant glances at each other. Mary’s face breaks out into a wide knowing smile. Steve opens the door, he is carrying the blue bag from the first episode. Although it looks very heavy he easily lifts it onto Hector’s desk.
Steve: Had you given up on me?
Hector: Well, maybe um poco.
Steve throws his head back and laughs. He goes to unzip the bag.
Hector: We only have-a five minutes to a my date!
The smile is fading on Steve’s face. He looks at the bag and then back to Hector. He tries to smile. Hector is smiling.
Steve: This… this isn’t going to help you at all.
Steve stands and steps away from the bag.
Mary: I’m sure it will, you’re too hard on yourself.
Mary goes to open the bag. Steve is shaking his head.
This is actually one of those clever shows where there’s more after the closing credits.
Mary and Hector looks concerned. Steve is shaking his head.
Mary: Oh Steve are you okay? It must be a terrible strain on you brain helping us all of the time.
Hector is staring. He looks very concerned. Mary opens the bag, her eyes widen and she looks at Steve. Steve is now smiling.
Mary is speechless.
Steve looks at his watch.
Steve: Come on Hector, let’s find you love.
Season Finale: Tears of a Clown
This is the big one so the credits are a bit different. It’s the Chirstmas show season finale. So the credits all have snow effects. Maybe like it’s sprayed on the corners like spray on snow. One for the CGI guys. The show is 90 minutes long.
INTERIOR SHOP DAY TIME. MORNING.
Steve McArmstong is doing push-ups and lunges in the shop because there is too much snow outside for running. Mary claps while holding a stop watch.
Mary: 40 minutes, that’s enough, surely!
Steve is shiny with sweat but not wet with it.
Steve: Ten more.
Just then Hector comes crashing out of his office. The audience applaud. Hector is waving the photo of his dead wife around, he looks very agitated and upset and more foreign than ever with his disgraceful display of emotion.
Hector: Wah! I-a hate Christmas as it’s-a when a my wife died and it’a makes me so sad!
Mary: Oh Hector! A year ago already? Time flies.
Steve: Mary, let’s not talk about flying, eh? Not after what happened to Marta.
Mary: Gah! Of course! How insensitive of me.
Steve: It’s okay, Mary.
Steve places his hand on Mary’s shoulder and squeezes. He then slides it down her back. Mary pulls forward before his hand get anywhere near her buttocks but she turns and smiles before turning back to the sobbing Hector.
Steve: Well Hector, tonight’s Christmas party will be a perfect opportunity to forget.
Hector (shouting): I don’t want to forget!
Steve: Blimey, take it easy.
Hector: I am sorry, Steve. You have done so much for me. For us, with your magic bag and your good thinks. But I wish you had the bag last December. Maybe you could-a-have-saved-a-Marta-a.
Mary: That bag, that blessed bag. Tell us again how you came to have it.
Steve: Certainly. It was about a year ago…
A SNOWY ROAD, STEVE IS DRIVING IN HIS MUSTANG LISTENING TO NINE INCH NAILS. HE IS WEARING A VEST WHICH SHOWS THE HEATER OF THE MUSTANG WORKS. SNOW WHIPS AROUND OUTSIDE. THE CAR PASSES A HITCHER HUDDLED INTO HIS COAT AGAINST THE FOUL WEATHER. A SHOT FROM THE REAR. THE MUSTANG’S BRAKE LIGHTS COME ON, THE HITCHER RUNS TO THE CAR. HE SPEAKS INTO THE PASSENGER WINDOW THEN CLIMBS IN AND PLACE THE LARGE HOLDALL HE’S CARRYING INTO THE FOOTWELL.
The man removes his hood.
Hitcher: Thanks for stopping, mate, I thought I was going to freeze to death!
Steve: It is cold. Think we’ll be in for a white Christmas which is tomorrow.
The hitcher nods but doesn’t talk.
Steve: Any plans for Chistmas?
The hitcher shakes his head but doesn’t talk.
Steve: A real chatterbox!
Steve looks around the car for something to chat about.
Steve: So, what’s in the bag?
Hitcher: None of your goddamn business.
Steve is taken aback.
Steve: I am sorry mate I didn’t mean any offence. Just making small talk.
Steve is really squinting through the windscreen. Visibility is poor.
Hitcher: Well, it’s none of your business.
Steve: I just-
Hitcher: What don’t you understand? It’s none of your goddamn business!
Steve has had enough. He yanks the steering wheel across and there is a massive squeal of tyres. He jumps out and goes around to the passenger door and drags the hitcher out. Steve gets him in a headlock and gives him a noggin and then releases him, giving his a parting boot up the butt. The Hitcher runs away yelping. Steve gets in and drives off. You can see he is playing the incident over in his mind. Then he looks into the footwell and sees the Hitcher has left his bag. Steve looks in the rear view mirror and at that moment there is a bang and the car shakes.
INTERIOR SHOP. PRESENT DAY. HECTOR AND MARY ARE HANGING ON STEVE’S EVERY WORD.
Mary: And that bang you think was Marta’s spirit entering the bag and making it magic?
Steve: As crazy as that sounds, yes. Same day, same road, same time. I think when that… that…
Mary: Take it easy, Steve.
Steve: When that hit and run monster hit and killed Marta I think her spirit went into the bag.
Hector: She was a good woman.
They all nod.
Steve: Christmas party tonight, yeah, Hector? All the people from the other shops will be there. There’s bound to be somebody for you. I guarantee it.
Hector: A guarantee from Steve! I suppose. A year is long enough.
They all laugh while Steve unscrews the lid of his bottle of gin and takes a swig. He grimaces and puts the lid back on.
OH NO IT WAS ON ITV AND THEY’VE STUCK THE NEWS AT TEN IN THE MIDDLE.
RECAP MONTAGE BECAUSE OF THE NEWS AT TEN.
STEVE DOING PRESS UPS. HECTOR’S DISTRESSED FACE. HITCHHIKER. MARY’S ADORING GAZE. MARTA TWISTED AND DEAD IN THE SNOW. THE BAG.
INTERIOR HECTOR’S OFFICE NIGHT TIME CHRISTMAS EVE
Steve, Hector and Mary are dressed in their best clothes and look amazing. Head to toe Superdry. The three of them. Hector looks funny not wearing his matador clothes but only because we’re used to seeing him in his matador clothing. Steve takes another glug of gin. The bottle is nearly empty. Steve is funny when he’s drunk.
Steve: Want some?
Steve offers the practically empty bottle around.
Hector: No tha-
Steve: Come on, let’s go.
Steve stands and reels out of the door at a lunatic angle. Both leaning forwards and sideways at the same time. The others look at each and then follow him
NIGHT TIME INTERIOR STEVE’S AMERICAN MUSCLE CAR.
All three of them are crowded in the front. Steve is looking at the steering wheel and dashboard as if they’re the controls for some alien craft. Snow starts to speckle the windscreen.
Mary: Steve, I feel bad and wrong even questioning you but are you sure you’re okay to drive?
Steve laughs and spits out a fine spray of spittle. He then makes a noise, smiles and then his face turns serious.
CAR PULLING OUT OF THE INCREASINGLY SNOWIER CAR PARK.
Steve: So we find you a woman, yeah?
Steve sees something at the side of the road. He chuckles and points but doesn’t say anything. It was a house with Christmas lights on it. As he drives he exhales a large breath.
Hector: That would be good. I think I am-a ready.
Steve: Yeah, a year’s ages.
Hector: A long time for sure, but sometime I still expect her to come home.
Steve: Like a zombie?
Hector? No, no, it’s like sometimes I-a forget. You know?
Steve cocks his thumb to side of the road and looks at his passengers.
Steve: That’s where…
Steve: They found her.
Steve: Her frozen corpse.
Steve burps. Hector nods.
Steve: Most of it.
Mary places a hand on Hector’s shoulder. Hector is covering his eyes and his shoulders are shaking.
Steve: Are you laughing or crying?
Mary: He’s upset.
Steve: About Marta?
Steve: It’s time to move on.
CAR-PARK OUTSIDE BIG PARTY VENUE. STEVE PARKS THE CAR BY DOING A HANDBRAKE TURN INTO A BARELY BIG ENOUGH GAP.
INTERIOR PARTY VENUE.
It’s a bit like a wedding reception but better lit. There are people standing around in groups, people sat and tables and people dancing on a small dance floor. Steve, Hector and Mary are standing in their own group. They have Santa hats on and are holding drinks. Steve has the holdall. The long straps are over one shoulder.
Steve: Anybody catch your eye?
Hector: I -a see somebody. maybe.
Steve: Paula, come to the bathroom with me. I want to show you something.
Steve: I mean Mary.
Mary: Paula’s your wife.
Steve: Yeah, I meant you. Come on. Hector’s alright now. Come on.
Steve grabs Mary’s arm but she pulls away even after everything he’s done for her. She should be flattered. She’s not going to do better than Steve McArmstrong, no way on God’s green Earth. She’s nothing special to look at.
Mary: I think I’ll stay here.
Steve: Whatever, I’m getting a drink.
Steve wheels away at a lunatic angle, both leaning forward and sideways at the same time.
SHOTS OF THE PARTY. HAPPY PEOPLE. STEVE DOING FUNNY RUSSIAN DANCING AS PEOPLE APPLAUD.
Steve is holding a drink and looking around. He sees what he’s looking for. Hector and Mary are in a corner. The looks shamed when they see Steve. They have been up to no good. Certainly kissing. Just because Steve got a little bit drunk. It’s pathetic.
Steve points into Mary’s face.
Steve: That’s the woman you had your eye on?
Hector: Si, I am sorry Steve. I have betrayed you.
Mary: We both have.
Steve chuckles. He is blinking off into the distance through alternately squinty and wide-open eyes. He is formulating a plan.
Steve: I’m happy for you two.
Steve hugs Hector and shakes him. Hector relaxes. Steve shakes him harder and Hector laughs and then Steve is overpowering Hector, first bending him over and then getting him onto the floor. Steve is great at Judo. Mary is hitting Steve but Steve doesn’t notice. He pulls off one of Hector’s shoes, stands and runs outside at a lunatic angle.
EXTERIOR NIGHT SNOW
Mary: Steve, where’s Hector’s shoe?
Steve: Dunno must have flown away.
Mary shakes her head and ushers Hector away. Hector is limping because of the cold floor.
Steve (shouting): Don’t worry about me!
Steve sits down on a bench. Snow begins to settle on him. Time passes and more snow settles.
A SAD CHRISTMAS SONG PLAYS. PEOPLE WALK PAST FULL OF CHRISTMAS CHEER.
A taxi pulls up. The door opens. Steve looks into the taxi. An arm extends out of the taxi. It is a sexy woman’s arm clad in one of those sexy Father Christmas suits. The one that’s just the top. No trousers. You can tell all this from her beckoning fingernails. I mean, just from her hand you can tell she’s much nicer than Mary. Hector’s welcome to her. Steve smiles and take the hand and climbs in the taxi.
CLOSING CREDITS. A TAKE THAT CHRISTMAS SONG.
Just then Enrique bursts out of his office. He is waving around Jamie’s script that he printed out on the work printer to save ink. He printed off a bunch of copies.”What da fuck is dis sheet?” Asks Enrique.