Black Books

British sitcom

Black Books (2000-2004) was a British television sitcom, set in a London bookshop, and broadcast on Channel 4.

Series 1


Cooking the Books (1.1)

Manny: I am a loose lily drifting down an amber river

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: [surveying the contents of her shop] I do sell a lot of wank, don't I?

Bernard: [reading form] "What is your mother's maiden name?" What's her first name?! I just knew her as "Ma"! That'll have to do. [Scribbles onto the form] Ma...possibly deceased.

Bernard: [reading form] Did your non-returnable outgoings for the first half of the year- [someone knocks on the door] Ah, thank Christ! [goes and answers the door] Yes?
Man 1: Hello, we were wondering whether we could talk to you about Jesus?
Bernard: [beat] 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.
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, let's talk beliefs!

Fran: Bernard, finished your accounts?
Bernard: Yeah I turned them into a rather smart casual jacket.

Manny: Add a drop of lavender to your bath and soon, you will soak yourself calm.

Manny: [To skinheads] Have you ever noticed a calm person with a loud voice?

Manny: [Concussed, confusing his calming tips] Add a dab of lavender to your milk, leave town with an orange, and pretend you're laughing at it.

Manny's First Day (1.2)

Bernard [after being woken up by Manny]: Am I dead?
Manny: No.
Bernard [looks at Manny]: Who are you, have I joined a cult?

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...

Manny: [reading Bernard's blackboard of shop rules] No mobiles, no... wigwams?.
Bernard: Walkmans!
Manny: [reading] No snoity... car... snoi-- This is indecipherable!
Bernard: Look, it is perfectly simple. [walks over to board and points out rules as he recites them] No mobiles! No walkmans! [points at rule number three and pauses] None of that! Or any of the others!
Manny: [squinting] ...Singe, bugger, cack.
Bernard: Signed, Bernard L. Black!
Manny: Oh. What's the L stand for?
Bernard: Ludwig. You know, Beethoven.
Manny: So, why did your parents decide to name you... ?
Bernard: [glares suspiciously at Manny at the mention of "parents"; puts up a face which reminds of Ludwig van Beethoven] What?!
Manny: [brief pause] Never mind.

Bernard: Well, whores will have their trinkets

Customer: [Bellowing] Will you leave me alone?! I'm sick and tired of being hounded by salesmen in shops! I'm browsing, all right?! Browsing! At the end of it I might buy something, I might not - but you will not influence me one iota! Not one jot! Now I've finished with you, YOU MAY GO!

The Grapes of Wrath (1.3)


Bernard: No one is willing to admit that wine doesn't actually have a taste.
Manny: But you can't taste anything, you smoke eighty bajillion cigarettes a day. What's that?
Bernard: What?
Manny: What's that you're eating?
Bernard: It's 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!

[repeated line]
Cleaner: Dirty.

Manny: Right now I'm eating scrambled eggs, with a comb, from a shoe!

Cleaner: [Speaking into a dictaphone] North ceiling corner, cobwebs containing a number of deceased arachnids... with beans.

The Blackout (1.4)

Bernard: [Very drunk] Why do you have a toaster in your bathroom? I'm on the toilet, right, and then Jimmy comes in, and he's drinking milk from the fridge, and that's all wrong - it's unhygienic. And what were you thinking when you said to yourselves, "Oh yeah, I'll get a wicker toilet"?

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)

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.

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

Bernard: I like the dead bees on the windowsill! They don't leave the door open and get us robbed!

Bernard: Excuse me there seems to be some sort of mistake. I bought a drink and some popcorn and now I have no money.
Theater Worker: That's how much it costs.
Bernard: Why? Is it special popcorn? Does it produce some kind of dizzying high?

Pornographer: [Shows Bernard a video] This is the latest. Set in a women's prison. £25.
Bernard: Do you have anything with nurses?
Pornographer: Yeah, sure, all sorts.
Bernard: What kinds of nurses?
Pornographer: Well, ones with big tits!
Bernard: No, I'm more interested in nurses who do paperwork, filing, that sort of thing.
Pornographer: That's very specific. Oh how about this? [Shows him another video] "Administrative Nurses", £40.
Bernard: Sorry, that should say "Senior Administrative Nurses", that's really the only thing I'm interested in.
[The pornographer lifts his thumb to reveal the video's full title, "Senior Administrative Nurses"]
Bernard: Well, maybe we could sit down, open a bottle of wine and watch it together?

Manny: I ate all your bees.

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!

Manny: I won't do it.
Bernard: That is a pity. Well, I hope you enjoy your weekend repricing every single individual book in the shop, because they've all just gone up by a penny.

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.

Bernard: I will have no malingerers in my shop. Now go and fetch me my lolly!

The Fixer (2.3)

Bernard: [About Fran who is looking for a job]] You can sort your life out anytime; the pub closes in five hours.

Bernard: [Regarding a violent, ugly gangster - Danny] Look at that face! I bet his Corn Flakes tried to crawl 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.

Bernard: What did he say, the midget?
Manny: You mustn't call him a midget...
Bernard: (Moves right up into Manny's face) He's a midget. A tiny midget.
Manny: What if he hears you?

Danny: If I can't read by Friday, you'll both be brown bread, buttered, with Harry, on the boat. (Leaves after whacking Manny on the chest who then bends over in pain, whining)
Bernard: (Whines with Manny) Who's Harry?! (Whines again) I don't have a boat!

Blood (2.4)

Bernard: Perhaps you'd like me to put the price down.
Customer: Well I was thinking two pounds.
Bernard: Because three pounds is just naked profiteering for a book of a mere... [checks the back pages of the book] 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.
Customer: Two fifty.
Bernard: That's more like it. Now you're being reasonable. [takes the book back and opens it] Two fifty gets you...[rips a few pages out of the book] this much. You can come back and collect the rest when you have the other 50p.
Customer: But you--
Bernard: [Hits bell] Thank you!
[Customer walks out]
Manny: Bernard...
Bernard: Don't start, customer lover.
Manny: I was just going to say, I'm off to get the paint.
Bernard: What for? The shop's the way it is because it is the way it is. [Pause] If it wasn't the way it is, it wouldn't be the way it is.
Manny: It needs doing.
Bernard: It's charming. It has character.
Manny: Character is an ambience, a feeling. It's not something with fur and a beak.
[As if to illustrate his point, a strange oinking noise starts from somewhere on the floor - Manny moves over to a bookshelf, grabs a whip and kills the unseen monster, then adds a tally mark to the blackboard]
Manny: They've moved the nest again. I was going to get two brushes, by the way.
Bernard: You can paint with both hands, that's nice.
Manny: Well, I was kind of thinking that-
Bernard: No, you weren't, you just thought you were thinking.
Manny: Well maybe if-
Bernard: No.
Manny: But if-
Bernard: NO! [Manny gives up and walks out, but Bernard has his head turned and doesn't see] I don't want to be bothered, [Fran comes in] you big, hairy... [Looks back and sees Fran] Oh, hello.

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

[After killing one of the unseen creatures using a coffee machine]
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.

Bernard: The only thing that's going to bring me inner peace is a beard-seeking missile!

Fran: So what's it like, then, fags and booze?
Bernard: Well. To be honest. After years of smoking and drinking, you do sometimes look at yourself and think.
Fran: Yep...
Bernard: You know, just sometimes in between the first cigarette with coffee in the morning to that 400th glass of corner shop piss at 3AM, you do sometimes look at yourself and think...
Fran: Yeah...
Bernard: "This is fantastic. I'm in heaven."

A Nice Change (2.6)

[Manny hands Fran bananas after she decides to sleep in Bernard's bed]
Fran: No thanks, 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.

[After the disastrous holiday; recalling a dark voyage down a 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: Do you have your keys?
Bernard: No. I left them in the bag, which you kindly unburdened us of by losing!
Manny: Ah.
Bernard: What do you mean 'Ah'?
Manny: It's just I think my keys may have been in there too.
Bernard: Were they? [chuckles] Funny thing, travel; it's just one thing after another. You're fired.
Fran: Oh, now look...
Bernard: And after I dislodge and return your thong, I never want to see you again either!

Bernard': [to Manny] GET AWAY FROM ME! It was a thrill to recreate with you, but now our association ends! You have brought nothing but pain, penury and strife into my days! I wish you good fortune in whatever avenue of life you assault with your presence. Here's your redundancy package: I'm sorry it's mostly in Phrenobian wooden dollars but that's largely your fault! Now, good luck and goodbye!

Bernard: No, I don't accept your apology! Give it another thirty years, and take this [indicates Manny] with you!
Fran: Bernard...
Bernard: What?
Fran: Do you want to come outside?
Bernard: I'm cold! I've got chilblains, tinnitus and thrush! If you wanna fight, come inside!

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 cream puff!

Bernard: [Looking at Manny through a hole in the wall] There. There he is. Half Iago. Half Fu Manchu. All bastard.

Evan: Look at me, Manny. What do you see?
Manny: Well...
Evan: I’ll tell you. You see me and you say, "Hey, there’s Evan. He’s a young guy, he likes the Stereophonics, he rides a scooter. Lets see how far I can push him." But you’ve let me down, Manny!

Fran: Morning.
Bernard:[Spying on Manny through the wall again] He’s bending down now. Ah, look, he’s getting up again. I knew he’d do that.
Fran: Is this really helping?
Bernard: Look, now he’s going up on that little ladder; up he goes with that little wiggle of his, the wiggle of Judas, the Judas boogie.

Elephants and Hens (3.2)

Fran: You always know when you're in for a good night when theres a polar bear bleeding on the label.

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]

Manny: Here is the elephant; he's happy with his balloon. Oh no! It's gone! Where is it? It's not behind the rhino :[he and Bernard shake their heads drunkedly]: Look in the alligator's mouth,
Manny and Bernard: It's not there either!
Manny: Ohhhh the Monkey's got it in the tree! He brings it back
Manny and Bernard: They all drink lemonade. The End!

Bernard: But you hated school, you had a terrible time.
Fran: I've never said that!
Bernard: You don't have to say anything, I just look at your life now and work backwards.

Moo-Ma and Moo-Pa (3.3)

Answer Machine: Yo, Manny! Paul here. The annual reggae barbeque on the barge is go, repeat go! Bring Pam or Sam or whatever her name is- [a short while later] Er Manny? Ah, Paul again. Listen, sorry I forgot to say; please don't bring that grumpy Irish bastard-! [Bernard switches the machine off angrily]

Fran: You are being very mean to Manny.
Bernard: I can't help it. 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]
Bernard: Military history is on your right.
Tourist: I don't want your little history grotto. I want modern warfare, infrared, fallout, killzones.
Bernard: Military history is on your right. If you have any questions just fire a couple of rounds into the ceiling!

Travel Writer (3.5)


[Bernard owes money to his elderly landlady]
Bernard: She doesn't need any more money! She already has all the blue hair and toffee and pop socks a person could want! Tell her to stop or...we'll cut the brakes on her Stairmaster.

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: Okay, 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.

[After Manny foils Bernard's attempt to kill Benson]
Bernard: So you admit you deliberately stepped in front of the bullet?
Manny: [softly] Yes.
Bernard: And wantonly sprayed blood from your head wound across the shop?
Manny: [softly] Yes.
Bernard: Before going to waste time writhing around on an 'emergency operating table'?
Manny: [softly] Yes.
Bernard: [hands Manny an affidavit and a pen] Sign here. No wages for seven years. If it wasn't for you, that cat would be where he belongs: in Hell, being chased by giant mice!

Fran: I've had an idea for your event Manny.
Manny: Great!
Fran: Yes, you could get everyone come into the shop to vote for what they think it's the most stylish city in Europe.
Manny: (begins to chuckle)
Fran: Then...
Manny: (continues chuckling)
Fran: At the end of the week you can...
Manny: (continues chuckling)
Fran: What?
Manny: Europe... you are funny Fran. I hardly think your little jaunts to Europe count as travel.
Fran: Well, pardon me!
Manny: This is not a festival for tourists! We've got an explorer coming in, he's giving a talk! The the the... legendary, famously charming Jason Hamilton.

Bernard: [while taking and reading Hamilton's book summary] :
Let's have a look, then. Every one of these blurbs says he's charming: «I was swept away by a wave of charm.»
«I was immolated in a firewall of charm and charisma.» «I almost exploded from the concentration of charm on the page.»
I bet I can open it anywhere and I find this fop posing on a jeep looking smug.
[he opens the book, finds the photograph]
Bernard: Haha!

Jason: Now Fran, would you say that you had jungle experience, bearing in mind it could be handy on this trip?
Fran: Does Corfu count?
Jason: You've been to Corfu?
Fran: No.

Party (3.6)

Bernard: Men have a different way of noticing hair and appearance. Which is not noticing.

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.

Bernard: And what am I supposed to do when you're doing the underpants charleston with this insane, blind tart?!
Manny: Why are you getting so angry?
Bernard: I can't help being angry when I'm furious!

Fran: Bernard, why aren't you dancing?
Bernard: There's no music.
Fran: Well, sing us a song - you're Irish.

Manny: She's nice.
Bernard: Oh, she's nice is she? Don't make me get sick into my own scorn. Does she play the viola, does she embroider, is she kind to the servants?

Bernard: And who is she anyway, this so-called person!?

Manny: Let's paaaar...
Bernard: [points his finger threateningly at Manny] DON'T YOU DARE USE THE WORD 'PARTY' AS A VERB IN THIS SHOP!!
Manny: Let's... potter along... in order to attend the party! [Bernard lowers his finger]

Manny: Fran, get the wine!
Bernard: What? [sees that there was alcohol in the house the whole time] Lies! Subterfuge! Seething corruption!

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.

Bernard: I don't mean this in a bad way, but genetically you are a cul-de-sac.

Bernard: The music was too loud, the food was cold, the drinks were few, and the people were many. It was everything I expected, and less. I'm never going outside again unless I need someplace to throw up.

Manny: [to Bernard] Would you like some beetroot liqueur? You can have it. You can have the whole bottle. Really, I mean it, you can have..nearly all of it...Go on, go ahead...WHOAA Don't go mad.

See Also

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