Black Books

Channel 4 (ended 2004)
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952 votes
  • Episode Guide
  • S 3 : Ep 6


    Aired 4/15/04

  • S 3 : Ep 5

    The Travel Writer

    Aired 4/8/04

  • S 3 : Ep 4

    A Little Flutter

    Aired 4/1/04

  • S 3 : Ep 3

    Moo-ma and Moo-pa

    Aired 3/25/04

  • S 3 : Ep 2

    Elephants and Hens

    Aired 3/18/04

  • Cast & Crew
  • Dylan Moran

    Bernard Ludwig Black

  • Tamsin Greig

    Fran Katzenjammer

  • Bill Bailey

    Manny Bianco

  • Rob Brydon

    B. Nugent

  • Keith Allen

    Dave 'Mouse Ear' Smith

  • Photos (2)
  • show Description
  • Black Books is a second-hand bookshop in London run by an Irishman named Bernard Black. He is probably the planet's least-suited person to run such an establishment: he makes no effort to sell, closes at strange hours on a whim, is in a perpetual alcoholic stupor, abhors his customers (sometimes physically abusing them) and is often comatose at his desk. Help comes in the lumpy shape of Manny Bianco, a hairy, bumbling individual who becomes Bernard's assistant. Manny is not exactly great at the job either but he is a million times better than Bernard. Next door is Fran, an anxious, frustrated woman who runs a sort of new-age shop selling the most unlikely bits of arty junk. Fran is friends with Bernard and, through him, with Manny; together the trio become embroiled in escapades that are sometimes extreme, fantastically ludicrous, and always bizarre. The show has won two BAFTA awards and one Bronze Rose award.moreless

  • Top Contributor
  • spikemaniac

    User Score: 174


  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (193)

    • Bernard: (to aggressive skinheads) Hey, you know when you're doing the usual threesome thing you do on a weekend, and the moonlight's bouncing off your bald heads and your bare arses and everything, does that not get a bit confusing?

    • Bernard: (on Fran being birth partner to pregnant friend) Yuck. That's going to be intense, a lot of blood, a lot of shouting, and urm... Fran: Oh, no no no, I'll just get drunk. In fact, she'll be on drugs, I'll be drunk, it'll be just like the old days.

    • Bernard: (waking up) What time is it? Manny: Half ten. Bernard: Half ten? Half ten?! I've never been up at half ten! What happens?!

    • Fran: Bernard? Finished with your accounts? Bernard: Yes. I've turned them into a rather smart casual jacket.

    • Manny: (reading from The Little Book Of Calm} Let let let let... let go once in a while, you're a loose lily floating down an amber river. Ahhh.

    • (Bernard is checking the price of a book for a customer) Bernard: We’ve got a special offer on this one. Posh Customer: Really? Bernard: Yes, it’s free if you break my legs. Posh Customer: Fair enough! Bernard: Great! I’ll just get the hobbling post. Posh Customer: Wait! I’ve read this one. That’s the problem with Wodehouse… Bernard: Yes, it’s terrible, now hurry up and break my legs.

    • Manny: Well, I could do your accounts. Bernard: What? Manny: I'm an accountant - well, was an accountant. It's the least I could do. Bernard: You mean you could do more? Manny: Well, yes. Bernard: Could I have a glass of wine? Manny: Yeah, sure. Bernard: And a ham sandwich? Manny: If you like. Bernard: (Excitedly) With pickle?! Manny: Alright.

    • Manny: Add a dab of lavender to milk. Leave town with an orange, and pretend you're laughing at it.

    Show More Quotes

    Notes (14)

    • The show writers had originally planned for the character of Manny Bianco to be Jewish.

    • The character of Bernard was inspired by an actual owner of a bookshop whom Dylan Moran shared an encounter with.

    • Martin Freeman was nominated for Best Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards that year for his appearance as the Doctor in this episode. Unfortunately, he didn't win.

    • The makers of Black Books consider the show to be the sister-show to fellow sitcom Spaced. Both were produced by Nira Park, and several actors appear in both series, including Bill Bailey, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jessica Stevenson and Peter Serafinowicz.

    • Bill Bailey wrote a song for the episode entitled "Who Will Buy My Books Today?" however the song was cut from the episode. Bailey performs it as his character, Manny, on the DVD Season 1 Outtakes.

    • Co-writer Graham Lineham cameos as the "I Love Books" customer.

    • When Freddy is showing Manny how to operate the heating system, they point to the same switch for 'On' and 'Off'. This is one of the more subtle gags in the show, but it's a good one if you know it's there.

    • Dylan Moran (as Bernard) tried desperately to make Liam Hess, the young child in this episode, laugh. He improvised an entire song, which went "I live alone in a tree. I live alone in a tree. I live alone in a tree, and nobody loves me. Cows in the morning. Cows in the morning 1, 2, 3. Up and at 'em, up and at 'em with a pick. I live by the river with my mother in a house, she washes, I cook and we never go out. I'm a simple cow, living a simple life, but sometimes I feel exploited. Ireland will never be free until I can marry my brother. Oh I love you Eileen Bueag. I love you Eileen Bueag. I love your teeth and your eyes and your face. I love your knees, and your house and your place. I love your couch, and your mother and your teeth. I love your cupboards and your loft and your swimming pool, I love you I love you I love you I love you Eileen Bueag, but leave us alone now for the minute." The song can be found in the outtakes of the Season One DVD.

    Show More Notes

    Trivia (53)

    • A stamp on the bookshelf behind the desk says "Property of St. John and Red Cross Hospital Library Dept".

    • Tamsin Greig, the actress portraying Fran, was pregnant during the filming of Season 1.

    • Goof: When the Doctor is telling Manny his prognosis; you notice that the actor says "Oh my God!" at the wrong time and mumbles "Sorry" after it.

    • The Account Coat that Bernard wears of his receipts and tax form is very similar to the Coat Of Cash that appears every week in another Channel Four show, The Friday Night Project.

    • Inevitably, The Little Book Of Calm has spawned a spin-off and spoof volume called The Little Book Of Stress: Calm Is For Wimps, Get Real, Get Stressed By Rohan Candappa.

    • On the side of the "bald furby" boxes in "Nifty Gifty" are katakana characters saying 'rai-ta' (lighter)

    • The two people who play the Jehovah's Witnesses are real life brothers.

    • Fran's last name - Katzenjammer, is a German slang word for hangover.

    Show More Trivia

    Allusions (19)

    • The Little Book Of Calm Genuine small volume of helpful hints of how to remain relaxed , written by Paul Wilson.

    • Cooking the Books A common phrase used to mean creative accounting.

    • Jesus

      As Manny is walking through the halls of the hospital, he visits Julie, and bestows upon her a calming metaphor. This is a link to how Jesus Christ healed the sick and the poorly.

      Manny then walks through the streets, stopping a dog from barking and a car alarm from screaming out. Again, references to 'healing'.

      After retrieving a beaten up Bernard, Bernard's missionary friends return to the shop. The night before, Bernard had been teaching THEM about Jesus, sorting out confused facts. Manny answers the door, and the missionaries run away screaming. Manny is dressed in a long flowing hospital gown, similar to the dress of Jesus, and has a beard and long hair, like Jesus is portrayed to have.

    • Lord of the Rings Bernard refers to Manny as "Lord of the Rings". "Lord of the Rings" is a popular epic fantasy book series written by J.R.R. Tolkien and film trilogy. In the films, many of the characters have long beards. Bernard is ridiculing Manny's beard by calling him "Lord of the Rings".

    • Ludwig Van Beethoven Famous composer, gradually suffered complete hearing loss beginning from his early twenties - so Bernard not hearing Mannys' question about his middle name is timed just right.

    • Trigger Happy Books When in the book shop, a flock of students come in. Manny persuades Bernard to let them browse and attempt to sell them some books. One of the student's phones then rings, he answers and says this: "Hi... yeah... no I'm in a bookshop. No, no, bookshop! BOOKSHOP!" This is a reference to a TV Show called "Trigger Happy TV" hosted by Dom Jolly. In the show, Dom goes into shops and onto buses and other places with an overly mobile phone and screams into it: "HI! YEAH... NO I'M ON THE BUS [For example] ...NO, THE BUS, THE BUS YEAH, NO, IT'S RUBBISH!" This show was a series on Channel 4.

    • The Grapes of Wrath A book by John Steinbeck.

    • Frankenstein In this episode, they set up an elaborate joke. The joke begins with Manny hurting his tooth on toffee, later he then hurts his leg and his back, giving him a limp and a hobble.
      In the episode, Bernard is 'forced' to create a new wine from household ingredients. In this scene, with his wild hair and manic and eccentric look, Bernard becomes the Mad Scientist. With his ailments, Manny becomes Igor, assistant to the Mad Scientist in Frankenstein, a book by Mary Shelley.

    Show More Allusions
  • Fan Reviews (30)
  • Bring me my lolly!!

    By Spicerack, May 28, 2012

  • One of my favourites shows ever.

    By kocziok, Jan 29, 2011

  • A quirky little British sit-com which never quite proved to be an equal match for sister show "Spaced"...

    By cgyford, Apr 08, 2011

  • Watch this now!

    By Ketisfolk, Aug 10, 2008

  • dylan moran makes me want to smoke and drink red wine out of the bottle at 10am. bill bailey makes me cry with laughter.

    By ch0wmander, Mar 30, 2009

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