Black Books was a Channel 4 sitcom created by Irishmen – stand up Dylan Moran and writer Graham Linehan. It was broadcast from 2000 to 2004 and you can view series 1 outtakes below.
Starring Moran, Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig, the series is set in a London bookshop and follows the lives of its owner Bernard Black (Moran), his assistant Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey) and their friend Fran Katzenjammer (Tamsin Greig).
So what’s it all about you ask? Bernard Black is the proprietor of Black Books, a small bookshop. The series revolves around the lives of Bernard, Manny and Fran. A central theme is Bernard’s odd position as a moody and spiteful shopkeeper who has a loathing of the outside world and all the people who inhabit it, except his oldest friend, Fran, who initially ran a trendy bric-a-brac shop, Nifty Gifty, next-door to the shop.
Bernard displays little enthusiasm or interest in retail (or, indeed, anything outside drinking, smoking and reading) and actively avoids having to interact with anyone, even inside his shop, as he has a personal dislike of his customers, treating his bookshop more like a personal library. It is suggested that Fran and Bernard once slept together, but now they remain happy to be friends, sharing a love of smoking heavily and drinking to excess. Fran otherwise has a rather hopeless love life.
Manny is introduced in the first episode as a stressed-out accountant who enters the bookshop seeking The Little Book of Calm. During a drunken night out, Bernard offers him a job as a shop assistant and a room above the shop if he will do Bernard’s accounts for him. Sobering up, Bernard realises Manny’s optimistic nature is not suited to “this kind of operation”. Fran, however, seeing that Manny is good for Bernard, forces Bernard to let him stay.
The debut episode premiered on 29 September 2000 and three seasons followed, with the final episode airing on 15 April 2004. A critical success, winning a number of awards, including two BAFTA awards for Best Situation Comedy in 2001 and 2005 and a Bronze Rose at the Festival Rose d’Or.
And Bill Bailey fans can catch him live at The Olympia Theatre in Dublin for a week long run starting on September 12th. More info in our gig guide.
Watch: Black Books outtakes now: