Black Books: Wikis


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Black Books
Black Books titles.jpg

The title screen featuring the front of the shop, Black Books.
Format Sitcom
Created by Dylan Moran
Graham Linehan [1]
Starring Dylan Moran
Bill Bailey
Tamsin Greig
Country of origin  United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 18
Producer(s) Karen Beever
William Burdett-Coutts
Nira Park
Julian Meers
Camera setup Multiple
Running time 25 minutes approx.
Original channel Channel 4
Original run 29 September 2000 – 15 April 2004

Black Books is a British sitcom broadcast on Channel 4 starring Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey and Tamsin Greig. It was written by Dylan Moran, Graham Linehan, Arthur Mathews, Kevin Cecil and Andy Riley and produced by Nira Park. The show won the BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy in 2001 and 2005, and won a Bronze Rose at the Festival Rose d'Or of Montreux in 2001.

The series is set in the eponymous "Black Books", a small, independent bookshop in the Bloomsbury area of central London. The show is based around the lives and often surreal antics of its sour, eccentric, misanthropic, alcoholic Irish owner Bernard Black (played by Moran), his long-haired, well-meaning but bumbling assistant Manny Bianco (Bailey), and their neurotic friend Fran Katzenjammer (Greig).



The series revolves around Bernard's loathing of the outside world and all the people who inhabit it, except his oldest friend, Fran Katzenjammer. Bernard displays little enthusiasm or interest in retail (or, indeed, anything outside drinking, smoking and reading) and refuses to interact with anyone outside his bookshop, or even inside, as Bernard has a personal hatred of customers. Many episodes are driven by Manny and Fran's attempts to force him into a more socially acceptable lifestyle. However, despite their attempts, and Manny's strong social skills, their efforts usually result in chaos, sucking them back into Bernard's nihilistic view of the world.

The series is notable for its surreal and off-beat sense of humour, particularly when regarding the state of the shop: it is frequently depicted to be in an unhealthy state of dirtiness. It is mentioned in one episode of series one that seawater molluscs live on the water pipes, and in the first episode of series three, during a particularly bad state, a dead badger is on the floor, a hermit crab is found in a teapot, and several snails are resting on a wine glass.


  • Dylan Moran as Bernard Black, owner of Black Books, eccentric misanthrope and alcoholic.
  • Bill Bailey as Manny Bianco, bald, long-haired, well-meaning but bumbling shop assistant.
  • Tamsin Greig as Fran Katzenjammer, owner of the shop next door, and oldest friend of Bernard.


  • The claim has been made that the show's concept came from a second hand bookshop in Maldon, Essex named Allbooks.[citation needed]
  • Black Books is considered by the makers, as stated in the Shaun of the Dead audio commentary, to be a sister-show of fellow Channel 4 sitcom Spaced, which was also produced by Nira Park. Numerous comic actors have appeared over the three series, including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jessica Stevenson, Peter Serafinowicz and David Walliams, and, in episode six of series 1, it can be heard that Manny is on the phone to 'Twist' (a character from Spaced).
  • The show started as a pilot at a 1998 Channel 4 sitcom festival in Riverside Studios. In this early version, Fran was 'Valerie', a philosophy lecturer, and Manny (whose surname was then Zimmerman - a reference to the original name of musician Bob Dylan) was a professional depression-o-gram. The show was also decidedly darker, the pilot revolving around Bernard and later Manny's decision to commit suicide.
  • The exterior scenes of Black Books were filmed outside a real bookshop, albeit rather a smaller one, called Collinge & Clark, located in Leigh Street, Bloomsbury.[2] The pub that is seen in the earlier episodes is now a 'gastropub' restaurant called the Norfolk Arms. The fictional address for the shop (as seen on a letter at the start of "Travel Writer") is "Black Books, 13 Little Bevan Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1". Also in episode 6 of series 1 Manny cites the shop as being located "just off Russell Square".
  • Manny's name came from Emmanuel as he was originally going to be Jewish.
  • There have been three series of Black Books, each with six episodes. Moran has stated that there will be no more series,[3] and The Times reports the series has been "killed off".[4]
  • The show was quite popular in the Scandinavian countries, and is known in Norway as "The Crazy Shop!"[citation needed]

See also


Further reading

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Black Books (2000-2004) was a British television sitcom, broadcast on Channel 4 and written and directed by Dylan Moran, Nira Park and Graham Linehan. It aired three series, each of six episodes.


Series 1

Cooking the Books (1.1)

Fran: [offering Bernard a mysterious object] Bernard, do you want this? Buy this.
Bernard: What is it?
Fran: It's a thing.
Bernard: Is it?
Fran: Yes.
Bernard: What does it do?
Fran: [after considering] It's very in.
Bernard: You don't know what it is, do you?
Fran: I-it's very now!

Fran: Oh, I do sell a lot of wank, don't I?

Bernard: [reading form] Did your non-returnable outgoings for the first half of the year- [someone knocks on the door] Aaah thank Christ! [goes and answers the door] Yes?
Man 1: Hello we were wondering whether we could talk to you about Jesus?
Bernard: Great! Come in!
Man 1: What?
Bernard: I'd love to hear about Jesus, what's he up to now? Come on, come on in, come on.
Man 1: Er... are you sure?
Bernard: Yes, in, in, come in!
Man 2: [worriedly] It's a trick!
Man 1: It's just... generally... people don't say yes.
Bernard: Well I'm not people! Come on in, lets talk beliefs!

Manny's First Day (1.2)

Bernard [about the job]: The pay's not great, but the work is hard.

Bernard: What do they want from me? Why can't they leave me alone? I mean, what do they want from me?
Manny: They want to buy books.
Bernard: Yeah but why me? Why do they come to me?
Manny: Well, because you sell books.
Bernard: Yeah, I know... but...

The Grapes of Wrath (1.3)

Bernard: No one is willing to admit that wine doesn't actually have a taste.
Manny: Of course you can't taste anything, you smoke eighty bajillion cigarettes a day. What's that you're eating?
Bernard: Some sort of delicious biscuit.
Manny: It's a coaster.
Bernard: Is it? Are there any more?

Bernard: If you're gonna give the guy pencils for drinking his wine, you're talking about, you know, magic pencils. You draw a cow, the cow comes to life – those kind of pencils!

The Blackout (1.4)

Manny: [Pretending to talk on the police station telephone, being watched by a policeman] Uh, yeah, hello...Raiders! You' it! Or I'll be down your manor with all the other policemen! And we'll arrest your arse! [timidly] Bye!

[Doing 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' with a local criminal]
Manny: You have... beautiful eyes.

The Big Lock-Out (1.5)

Bernard: [To Manny] You know what you are? You're a beard with an idiot hanging off it.

Manny: You think I should wash my beard?
Bernard: Yes, I think you should wash it. Then you should shave it off, nail it to a frisbee, and fling it over a rainbow.

He's Leaving Home (1.6)

[Manny has run away and suffered a series of unfortunate calamities while on the phone with Bernard]
Fran: Well, where is he? How can I find him?
Bernard: Well, you could become a terrible event and happen to him.

Fran: Oh my god! Mickey Rourke had another facelift. He looks like his trousers.

Series 2

The Entertainer (2.1)

Bernard: Don't make me laugh... bitterly. Fran will fail, you will toil your life away and I will die alone upside down on the floor of a pub toilet.

Bernard: [To Fran] You! What did you say to Kate? She thinks I'm the Renaissance. She'll think I've lied! I've had to go along with all this "reclusive genius" stuff. She's going to be very upset when she finds out I'm just a reclusive wanker!

Fever (2.2)

Bernard: I've got to get a girlfriend, just for the summer, until this wears off. She'll be a summery girl. She'll have hair. She'll have summery friends who know how to be outside. She'll play tennis and wear dresses and have bare feet, and in the autumn, I'll ditch her, because she's my summer girl!

[Bernard runs up to his 'summer girlfriend' wearing an accordion]
Bernard: Hello! I've come to serenade you. I can't play guitar. I can't play this either, but I thought it'd be less obvious.

The Fixer (2.3)

Bernard: [Regarding a violent, ugly gangster - Danny] Look at that face! I bet his Corn Flakes tried to climb out of the bowl!

Bernard: I'm a quitter. I come from a long line of quitters. It's amazing I'm here at all.

Blood (2.4)

Bernard: You want the price put down?
Customer: Well I was thinking two pounds.
Bernard: Because three pounds is just naked profiteering on a book a mere 912 pages long. What'll I do with that extra pound? I'll add another acre to the grounds. I'll chuck a few more koi carp in my piano shaped pond. No, I know, I'll build a wing on the National Gallery with my name on it.

Manny: Bernard, where's the thing?
Bernard: It's on the thing on top of the thing!

[After killing one of the unseen creatures]
Manny: I did it,,,,, I got the queen!

Hello Sun (2.5)

Customer: Look, there's no other way to say this, but I didn't come in here to be insulted.
Bernard: Well, I didn't ask for the job of insulting you. In another life, we could have been brothers. Running a small, quirky taverna in Sicily. Maybe we would have married the local twins instead of wasting each other's time here in this dump. But it was not to be. So hop it.

Fran: You know, in Tibet, if they want something, do you know what they do? They give something away.
Bernard: They do, do they? That must be why they're such a dominant global power.

A Nice Change (2.6)

[After the disastrous holiday; recalling a dark voyage down a tropical river]
Fran: At least the natives thought Manny was their God.
Manny: [Thoughtfully] Yes, it'll be some time before I want to sacrifice another monkey.
Bernard: [Snapping and grabbing Manny's collar] We said we wouldn't talk about Canada!!

[Manny hands Fran bananas after she decides to sleep in Bernard's bed]
Fran: No thank you I'm not hungry.
Manny: Oh no they're not for you just chuck them under the bed.
Fran: Why? What's under there?
Manny: Dunno. We just call it: "The Thing."

Series 3

Manny Come Home (3.1)

Evan: I took a risk when I employed you, Manny...Don't eat muffins when I'm developing you! I took a risk when I gave you a job. A lot of people would have said, "Who is this rudderless hippy? How do I get away from him? Has he got a hunting knife strapped to his shin?"

Manny: [About Evan] Bernard! He wants my hair!
Bernard: [To Evan] How dare you?! Don't you touch a hair on that boy's head! Have you no respect? He's mine! Get your own human play-thing, you quartz-brained little creampuff!

Elephants and Hens (3.2)

Bernard: Let's just, you know, get some ideas bouncing around. Sort of go crazy, you know, no rules...
Manny: Yeah, yeah, sort of anything goes-
Bernard:[hysterically] No, not anything goes! I said no rules!

[Sitting at his desk with a typewriter]
Bernard: I'll co-write this with... myself!
[Pulls out a second typewriter]

Moo-Ma and Moo-Pa (3.3)

Bernard: [Regarding Manny] He looks like a horse in a man costume.

Moo-Pa: Shop's still called Black Books, I see?
Bernard: Yeah. I was gonna call it World Of Tights, but you know how stupid people are; you have to spell everything out!

A Little Flutter (3.4)

[After Bernard has taken up gambling and is looking through the Racing Form to develop a 'system']
Manny: There's only one system: bet, lose, borrow, steal, lose, take the drugs, lose, prison... death.
Bernard: Don't get pious; you started me off.
Manny: That was a just a flutter; this is Satan's bingo.

[An American tourist comes into the shop looking for a book on modern warfare]
Tourist: I don't want your history grotto. I want modern warfare, radar, fallout, killzones.
Bernard: Military history is on your right. If you have any questions please fire two rounds into the ceiling!

Travel Writer (3.5)

Manny: I'll tell you where you should go, Venezuela. It's amazing
Jason: Yeah, dear old Venny. Been there have you?
Manny: Yes, I have actually, yes. I went kayaking in the swamps of the Barracas.
Jason: North or south?
Manny: North.
Jason: [Dismissive] Ah, very nice, north. The tourist swamps.

Bernard: I don’t remember that.
Fran: Do you remember that night last week when you slept in a revolving door?
Fran: OK, do you remember when you ran out of tobacco so you smoked your own pubic hair?
Bernard: Not especially, no.
Fran: It was in between those two things.

Party (3.6)

Bernard: I tell you what, we are going to this party, because I'm trying to picture this "girl" who "likes you" and all I can see is you in a dress.

Manny: Let's paaaar...
Bernard: Don't you dare use the word 'party' as a verb in this shop!!

Bernard: What is this I'm drinking? It's disgusting. It's like a choc ice fell into a bottle of bleach. This is children's booze! What's yours?
Fran: Bludge. It's quite good actually. You don't even have to drink it. You just rub it on your hips and it eats right through to your liver.

See Also

External links

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