On this page, you can read in detail about what was said and done in the following Spatz episodes:
Series 1 (1990)
9. Clowning Around
Series 2 (1991)
1. Star Attraction (guest-starring Gary Lineker and Rhys Ifans)
3. Time And Efficiency
5. Fire Alarm
11. Loot (guest-starring Danny John-Jules)
13. Takeover (guest-starring David Harewood)
Series 3 (1992)
5. The Curse Of Karen (guest-starring Terry Hall and Lenny the Lion)
6. Driving Miss Wesley (guest-starring David Harewood)
7. Poetry And Music (guest-starring Chloë Annett and John Bardon)
When I decided to create a webpage about Spatz in 2002, I had only a VHS recording of this episode to go on. 15 years later, give or take a few weeks, the episode was put on YouTube.
It is Friday. TJ has just put up a notice offering children's parties at Spatz. As the group discuss their dates, it transpires that
JO: Have you ever had a girlfriend, Stanley?
DEXTER: Does the Pope have a skateboard?
Karen arrives and, seeing the party notice, heads up to grill TJ for using his initiative. She is livid when she hears that Head Office loved TJ's idea and approved it.
KAREN: This time you have gone too far ... I don't want hordes of rampaging savages stampeding through my restaurant, thank you very much.
TJ: It's a kiddies' party, not a Viking stag night.
The group discover that
A girl called Henny (played by Jade Magri, who later appeared in Mike & Angelo as Ellie) drags her mother Pippa (played by Clare Byam Shaw) into Spatz and orders a party for the coming Wednesday at 4 o'clock.
HENNY: I want ice cream, and I want balloons and a big chocolate birthday cake, and not one of those horrible frozen ones that mother always buys.
PIPPA: [Nervous laugh] Do you have any children of your own?
TJ: [Wide-eyed, nervous laugh] No.
HENNY: You're LUCKY!
After work, Vince persuades
TJ and Karen audition magicians for the party. Next up is Marvin the Magnificent (played by Chris Langham), who is awfully nervous and faltering.
TJ: So you're...
MARVIN: Marvin the Magnificent! A smile, a song and a trick up my sleeve. [He shakes TJ's hand and something falls onto the floor.] Well, it was up my sleeve but now it's rolled under your desk.
At one point, Marvin puts a carrot into TJ's mouth.
MARVIN: I ... will now whittle this ordinary carrot into a scale model of the
TJ: [Removing carrot] I'm over here!
KAREN: PUT THAT BACK IN YOUR MOUTH!
Marvin's act is a disaster. Karen promptly hires him in a jealous attempt to screw up TJ's idea.
(According to Paul Michael (TJ), 'it probably took longer to record his scenes than any others because he kept breaking Jennifer and me up on every take.')
In the staff room, the group discuss
Guests are arriving for the party. The birthday girl is annoyed that the magician is late, and collaring "Strickland", threatens to badmouth Spatz if she is let down.
In the staff room, the group put on clown costumes and make-up for the party.
Karen takes a phone call from Marvin, who has had an accident with a sword and is stuck in hospital. As Karen delightedly heads off to tell the children, TJ notices Marvin's equipment in the office.
As Karen is about to break the news, TJ comes down the stairs, in costume as "The Amazing Spatzini!"
The magic show begins, and TJ falters.
HENNY: Strickland! For £50 I want better tricks that this!
The tricks begin to work and the guests are impressed. The final trick is the
KAREN: Strickland, nothing is going to make me get in that box.
TJ: If you don't, I'll phone Head Office and tell them you sabotaged the party.
KAREN: Alright, I'm in the box.
Karen gets in the box.
TJ: Who will be the first to plunge this razor-sharp sword through the box? [All the staff shout out "ME!" and plead with TJ.] I think it had better be me.
The trick is a success; TJ almost leaves Karen in the box! Henny praises TJ for the party. Watch a 2:01 clip of the scene on YouTube.
After the guests have gone, Vince unveils
Builders and scaffolding cover the outside of the betting shop opposite Spatz. The mall is full of people who have been to Blimpy's to get novelty cardboard 'Eat At Blimpy's' hats; Spatz is empty.
Finally, a Girl (played by Victoria Shalet) and her Mother (played by Jo Unwin) come into Spatz, and the staff rush to serve them. But it turns out that they have only come, by mistake, for the Girl to get a Blimpy's hat. They leave.
GIRL: Trust you to bring me to the wrong restaurant. Ucch, parents: who'd have them?
Karen arrives for work, and is disgusted as the builders cheer and whistle at her.
BUILDER'S VOICE: Come on, give us a smile!
KAREN: You wanna see me smile? Jump.
The Mother and Girl pass Karen with a Blimpy's hat, which Karen angrily confiscates. She heads for the office, where TJ is admiring his cherished new boots.
KAREN'S VOICE: Strickland!
TJ: Woah, they're playing my song! [Takes foot off desk and goes back to work as Karen enters]
Karen complains about Blimpy's hat promotion.
KAREN: It's cheap, nasty, vulgar, it's a tasteless gimmick, pandering to the gullible masses. God, I wish I’d thought of it!
She is determined to trump it with a crowd-pleaser of her own. She also finds a moment to insult TJ's boots.
A feisty Scottish girl in a Celtic Football Club scarf comes to Spatz, lobbing a brick at the lecherous builders on the way. But she isn't a customer - she's the new employee, Freddy (played by Katy Murphy).
FREDDY: Fiona Reddy, F. Reddy, a.k.a. Freddy.
Dexter guides Freddy to the staff room to show her her locker, but she's more interested in hearing about
KAREN: Strickland, you're a jerk! Get out of my office!
TJ: This is my office!
KAREN: Well get out of your office.
TJ: [Meekly] Yes, Ma'am. [Runs off]
With no one to serve, the staff read magazines at the counter: Debbie reads Time Out (a magazine that, in real life, once gave Spatz a glowing review); Vince reads Viz;
TJ sits outside his office, trying to think up ideas to fill Spatz with customers, while
Dexter is panicking, trying to get a phonecall through to Gary Lineker, without success. He discovers from Debbie's magazine that
The next morning: the mall and restaurant are peppered with posters advertising Gary Lineker's visit. Dexter arrives at Spatz dishevelled, with plasters and bruises. He was crushed by the fans at Wembley, but got close to
DAVE: Before you bite my head off... [Removes hard hat] ...I'd hate you to break your teeth.
Freddy upbraids Dave, telling him to go away. He reveals that he isn't like the other chauvinist builders because: he's not trying to chat Freddy and Debbie up, he's just trying to order food; he deplores the builders’ harassment of women; he can't whistle. He takes his custom to Blimpy's, leaving the girls looking sheepish. (Dave would return two episodes later in Time And Efficiency.)
Dexter returns triumphantly, having torn down all the Gary Lineker posters in the mall, so that no one comes to his non-appearance on Friday. But his plan is foiled when
Friday: Spatz is packed with people, and neither Dexter's cool nor Gary Lineker is anywhere to be seen. Dexter tells Karen, who is eagerly selling T-shirts to the masses, that
Then, TJ walks in the front door, with Gary Lineker! He is soon signing autographs.
That evening: Karen has made £3000, but is irked when TJ takes it to cover
DEBBIE: My boyfriend Derek asked if you could autograph this photo for him please.
Karen thanks TJ for saving the day, and asks how he did it. TJ reveals that he met
Morning. Through the front window of Spatz, Vince, Stanley, Debbie and Dexter are watching Freddy and Dave Evans the builder (played by Rhys Ifans, last seen two episodes earlier in Star Attraction) kissing in a phone box. She reveals to the others that he'd asked her out the previous night, after dropping his adjustable spanner off scaffolding and onto her head - fate, Freddy says. Karen arrives and orders the staff back to work.
In the office, TJ is on the desk, putting the peak on a paper cup pyramid; but when Karen screams his name, he fumbles and knocks the pyramid down. As usual, she is irritated by him.
KAREN: Haven’t you ever heard of anti-dazzle toothpaste?
She tells TJ that Mr. Pashby, a time and efficiency expert, is coming to Spatz. He will get it running at maximum efficiency, which could mean unemployment for TJ. When Karen asks him what he made of the print-out she sent him, he shows her an origami swan. She stuffs it in his mouth, and comments how much darker the room is. Watch this scene (1:55) on YouTube.
Downstairs: Mr. Pashby (played by Alex Bartlette) arrives, encountering a queue. He also finds Freddy and Stanley playing noughts and crosses on the grill with burgers and chips. Debbie makes customers wait while she takes a phonecall from Derek.
Mr. Pashby is due at 9:15, and that's when he enters the office, to the second. He easily stacks the armful of cups that TJ had picked up.
Downstairs: Freddy is reading Dave’s palm. What she thinks is his lifeline is in fact a scar he got opening a tin. Dave’s boss calls him back to work, and as he goes he tells Freddy that he'll "be at the London Medical College" from next week onwards.
After Dave has left, Freddy begins to worry that having a brainbox for a boyfriend will lead to a gulf between them, and to her getting dumped. Crying, she runs through to the store area with Debbie in pursuit. Both of them push past Mr. Pashby, who’s there getting a tour from TJ. Then Vince and Dexter enter the area, squabbling.
Mr. Pashby storms into the restaurant area, where he notes un-cleared tables. Freddy charges back into the restaurant area, climbing over the counter and a table as she flees in distress. Dexter and Vince arrive, chucking burger buns at each other, much to Stanley’s delight. Pashby is appalled at TJ’s lack of authority.
TJ: HOLD IIIT! Hold it! I can be tough. Alright. Could you, kinda just, y’know, help out and go back to work please, ‘cause it’d ... be really nice.
MR. PASHBY: Incredible!
TJ: Was I too hard on ‘em?
There is a 2:28 clip of this part of the episode on YouTube.
Pashby reports to Karen in the office. He has diagnosed "Dinosaur Syndrome: a lumbering great carcass controlled by a walnut-sized brain." Vince creeps upstairs and listens at the office door with a milkshake cup. Karen tells Pashby to suggest whatever changes he likes, and he informs her that his report will arrive the next morning at 8:15am. Opening the door to leave, Pashby finds Vince. He confesses to eavesdropping, but Karen won’t believe him, so he tells her he was using the cup to push his ears back, as he’d been told that they stick out. This she believes.
The next morning, Vince and Dexter sneak into Spatz via the back gate and the fire door. At 8:15, an envelope is put through the front door of the restaurant. Vince and Dexter open it, and discover what Pashby’s report recommends: shorter breaks, longer hours, training sessions, wage cuts and staff reductions. What will they do? Vince scrunches up the report, shoves it in Dexter’s mouth (he ends up swallowing it), and goes up to the office. Once there, he begins dictating a new version of the report for Dexter to type.
Later: Freddy is reading a huge book on the counter. Dave comes in and Freddy talks to him in complex medical terminology. She tells him that she is studying to be a neurosurgeon, and that Spatz is her holiday job. Dave is shocked. Freddy has bought tickets for their next date: a lecture on hip-bone replacement at the Albert Hall that night.
Karen enters the office and gets the Paris file from the filing cabinet. She's flying there in 40 minutes' time, and will be back at 5 o'clock. She has no time to read what she thinks is Mr. Pashby's report, but says she trusts him implicitly, and tells TJ to follow his instructions to the letter.
After Karen has left, TJ goes downstairs and shares the report with the staff. Its recommendations include the installation of pinball machines. TJ gives them the report, and Debbie suspects Vince of being involved.
Later that day: Karen returns to find the report’s instructions have been carried out. Someone in a rabbit costume (Stanley?) is handing out balloons outside the restaurant. In the eating area is a Medusa pinball machine and Debbie standing by a Wheel of Fortune. Karen heads for the office, but it’s become a snooker hall. Outside the office, people are playing table football. Karen ventures into the store area, which is now 'DEXTERS DISCO' (no apostrophe): DJ Dex, behind decks, dedicates a song to Karen. By now rather distressed, she stumbles into the back yard, where TJ is sat at his desk. Reading the report in disbelief, Karen tells TJ to phone Mr. Pashby. The rabbit goes by, leading children to "the magic mountain", and Karen cries.
The next day: Freddy meets Dave over by the scaffolding, which is at the betting shop opposite Spatz. She is upset that he stood her up at the Albert Hall. He suggests that they break up, as dating a trainee neurosurgeon makes him feel stupid.
DAVE: Yes, I am going to medical college. To put scaffolding up on the roof.
Freddy is delighted, hugging and kissing Dave. Then she is called back to the restaurant.
Spatz is temporarily closed for a staff meeting. All the staff are standing in a line, with TJ, Karen and Mr. Pashby there too. Karen says that she will personally suspend the writer of the fake report... over the deep fat fryer. Lard, quips TJ, is far more cost-effective.
Pashby delivers his real report. Foremost among his complaints is overstaffing. He announces that "somebody has to go". Karen uses eeny-meeny-miny-moe to pick Stanley to be sacked. Pashby explains that he meant her: a colleague from his firm’s Champs Élysées branch followed her around Paris, discovering that her so-called business trip consisted in reality of her buying clothes, taking a horse-drawn carriage ride, lunching on snails and champagne, and feeding pigeons on the Eiffel Tower.
For setting such an awful example to her staff, Pashby says that Karen must go. Her response is to fire Pashby. Watch a 3:04 clip of this scene on YouTube. Then she tears up his report, for which she receives a round of applause from the others.
Since writing this summary, Fire Alarm has been uploaded in full to YouTube.
The staff look on as TJ and his girlfriend Julie (played by Catherine Russell) cuddle in the restaurant area. When they complain to him about having to do extra work between them to cover Vince’s week-long absence, TJ reveals that he has found a stand-in: Julie. Men in orange overalls are at work in the restaurant, fitting a fire alarm system.
In TJ's office, the head fitter from Flames Fire Alarms (Johnnie, played by Kenny Ireland) is organising a test of the system. The alarm bell makes it difficult for TJ to conduct ‘important business’ on the phone: he’s booking two tickets for that night’s performance of Aspects Of Love.
JOHNNIE: I love a good musical myself.
TJ: Yeah, so do I. Unfortunately we couldn't get into one, so we have to go to Aspects Of Love instead.
JOHNNIE: Oh, you can't beat Andrew Lloyd Webber.
TJ: A lot of people would like to try.
Karen arrives and the fitter leaves. She asks TJ about his date and Julie, whom Karen remembers as "the one who always cries at the end of The Flintstones when Dino gets locked out" and "so wet I've seen salmon leaping up her dress."
Later, Karen catches Julie arguing with a customer, for expecting but not requesting fries with his Maxi. Telling "Dextrose" to take over, Karen takes Julie aside.
KAREN: Smooching with the manager won’t buy you any favours around here, so don’t push your luck, sweetheart, OK?
Karen then orders Julie to mop the toilet floor, and finds it greatly satisfying.
After work, everyone except Karen has convened in the staff room for a fire drill. TJ advises Julie to "rise above" Karen's "machine gun" tongue. He then explains a bit about fire evacuation procedures, but it turns into a discussion about who played the architect in the film The Towering Inferno. (It was Paul Newman.) TJ hands out fire regulation leaflets.
The next day. Karen finds a scruffy old woman (Mildred, played by Denise Coffey) drooling hungrily at the front window of Spatz, and deals with her in customary sarcastic fashion. Karen then insults Julie (who 'rises above it') and sends her out to clear up the litter which Mildred is throwing out from the bin outside Spatz.
KAREN: I take it you do know how to pick up litter, don’t you?
JULIE: I’ll pick it up as I go along.
Then the fire alarm goes off. Dexter is especially panicky, and an elderly lady has to carry him outside! Stanley rescues the fish tank. Karen is reluctant to leave the restaurant.
KAREN: I can't believe this is happening!
TJ: Stop gawping and get out in the mall.
KAREN: Don't you dare talk to me like that!
TJ: Do you want to be burned alive?
KAREN: I'm in the mall. [Goes outside.]
Everyone makes it outside, but Karen notices one thing missing: the fire.
Johnnie is back in the office. He notes that false alarms sometimes happen with new systems, and asks TJ what he thought of Aspects Of Love. TJ says that he preferred the fire alarm. And then comes one of the most astounding lines in the entire series:
JOHNNIE: You didn't like it? I loved it. Alright, I agree it’s sub-Sondheim, and it doesn't have the epic sweep of Les Mis, but it does contain a certain emotional intensity that grows to a Puccini-esque-style catharsis. Don’t you think?
Karen's not interested, and evicts him from the office.
KAREN: You're losing your grip, Strickland. This place is going to the dogs.
JULIE: [Knocking on the office door and opening it] Excuse me.
KAREN: See what I mean?
Julie has come for the store cupboard key. TJ tells her that he’s booked them a table at the Bella Romantica that night. Karen gears up to insult Julie, but the fire alarm goes off again. Stanley saves the fishes once again. Dexter uses a traffic cone as a megaphone, to assist in the evacuation. Julie stops Karen from ushering customers back inside, telling her that the restaurant must be checked first. Karen is furious with Julie.
KAREN: If I want your opinion, I'll give it to you!
Johnnie is in the office yet again, fixing the ‘gremlin in the works’. Karen’s patience is low.
JOHNNIE: It's like I always say, you've got expect a few teething troubles with a new baby.
KAREN: And who better to shut the baby up than a great big fat dummy? ... Get out!
TJ: Don't worry about it, she had her Sherman tank clamped this morning.
Karen asks for the VAT returns to be done that night, but TJ refuses due to his date. Attempting to guilt-trip him, Karen says she'll stay late to do the returns, and complains that TJ's priorities have changed since Julie’s arrival. TJ praises Julie as considerate, as Karen looks out the window and spots Mildred outside.
After finding the Spatz Manual in TJ’s desk, Karen sneaks downstairs (where she sees Julie at the counter) and through the back door, and beckons Mildred over. Karen tells her that Spatz is giving away free food, and suggests that she go up to the girl at the counter with the soppy face, and tell the girl that she’s homeless and penniless, not forgetting to look pathetic. Karen sneaks back inside and spies on Mildred and Julie’s exchange. As predicted, Mildred is given a free meal.
MILDRED: When you die you'll go to heaven.
KAREN: [Coming over] Which could be sooner than you think! ... Spatz Manual, page 31, paragraph 3: [reads] 'Gross misconduct resulting in instant dismissal.' Subsection 2: 'Staff members shall under no circumstances deliberately give away food without obtaining full payment, or without the appropriate authority. Summary dismissal is effective immediately and is non-negotiable.'
JULIE: You can't fire me, because I resign!
TJ comes down to find out what’s happened, and Karen confiscates Mildred's food. (Mildred would return in Series 3 episode The Curse Of Karen.)
That night: Karen is alone, working late in the office. Deciding she needs food, she goes downstairs. She jams a bap in the toaster, then puts a tray on top. The phone rings, and Karen rushes upstairs to answer it, arriving a moment too late. As she settles back into the chair, the toaster catches fire and sets off the alarm. Deciding it's another false alarm, Karen switches it off, and has soon fallen asleep in the chair.
TJ and Julie walk past Spatz on their way to his car, after their date. Thinking that Karen’s left the lights on, TJ heads to his car for the restaurant keys. Discovering that the front door is unlocked, Julie enters and finds Karen asleep. But heading back downstairs, she is almost hit by fire and smoke. She goes to wake Karen, who fears that Julie has come to attack her over the sacking.
KAREN: Don't hurt me, I'm easily bribed!
When Julie tells Karen about the fire, Karen starts screaming, so Julie slaps her and orders her to get the fish! Meanwhile, TJ sees the fire and phones the fire brigade from a payphone in the mall; which, we learn, is "Manor Park Shopping Centre, NW2". (This is Cricklewood in London, where Mike & Angelo was also set.) Julie and Karen (and the fishes) get out the restaurant safely, and TJ encourages Karen to thank Julie.
The next day: firemen leave the burnt-out preparation area with the charred toaster, while Karen stands by in a mortified, humiliated silence. Freddy pretends that what happened had been detailed in the previous day’s newspaper horoscope. TJ sends the staff home on full pay while the mess is sorted out, and points out to Karen that there is an upside: the fire alarm (which is heard ringing off-key) still works!
Since writing this summary, Loot has been uploaded in full to YouTube.
Monday morning. TJ is praising the friendliness of English people, but is threatened by a customer whom he tries to greet.
Vince hasn't arrived for work yet, and TJ asks Dexter if he has seen Vince. A customer (played by Danny John-Jules) overhears details of this "missing person situation", and races to a phone in the mall to change into... Captain Electric! He stands proud in an electric blue superhero costume.
CAPTAIN ELECTRIC: Who found Princess Zelda when she went missing on the planet Razafras? Captain Electric! And who located the last crystals of Krakuvius? Captain Electric! And who tracked down the elusive Tharg of Putumble?
DEXTER: Captain Electric.
CAPTAIN ELECTRIC: No, my next door neighbour, Mr. Tribby. I had a dental appointment that day.
Watch this bit in the next-episode preview at the end of this YouTube video.
Captain Electric rushes off on a mission to find Vince.
Vince arrives late, and is caught by TJ. He extricates himself by offering TJ a gift - from a large box containing filofaxes in plain brown envelopes - to celebrate "Plonker Monday... from the Old English merriplonk, meaning a fine fellow or friend." TJ is touched.
TJ goes into his office, to find Karen sifting around in his fishtank (the fish are called Bognor and Regis), whilst wearing huge black-rimmed spectacles.
TJ: Woah, Buddy Holly lives! ... Why, Miss Hansson, you're beautiful.
Karen has dropped one of her contact lenses. TJ heads off make a deposit at the bank, but meets the bank manager, Peter Jonathan (played by Duncan Preston), on the stairs. Mr. Jonathan is livid at the amount of litter Spatz is generating in the mall, including a burger box that he found jammed into his cash dispenser. He goes to talk to Karen, who, after removing her glasses out of embarrassment, is sightless and disorientated.
The customer who was rude to TJ earlier returns to apologise, and TJ praises him as "a five-star plonker." This earns TJ a punch in the face and floors him. Freddy offers to take the plain brown envelope containing £3000 to the bank for TJ.
In the back room, Vince tries to sell Stanley one of his filofaxes, but Debbie reveals that they are printed in Chinese. Vince, guilty and distracted about what has happened to TJ, bumps into Freddy, and they drop their envelopes. Freddy rushes off to the bank.
Mr. Jonathan has concluded his meeting with Karen, and ensured a solution to the litter problem, but hasn't convinced Karen to go out with him. Dexter arrives to tell Karen about TJ, and is picked for litter patrol.
Later as he cleans the mall, Dexter is greeted by Captain Electric, who has found Vince. Freddy returns, almost catatonic, and walks through Spatz ignoring everyone.
STANLEY: I was just gonna go out and get my uncle's bloodhound to come looking for you. Then I remembered; I haven’t got an uncle.
In the back room, Freddy reveals to Vince that she has lost the money.
FREDDY: I'm going back to Glasgow. The long way round, via Mozambique.
Watch this bit in the next-episode preview at the end of this YouTube video.
Vince talks Freddy out of leaving, and into looking for the money. Moments after Mr. Jonathan praises Dexter for cleaning up the mall and goes into Spatz, Freddy and Vince throw all the rubbish back out, searching for the money.
Karen finds her contact lens in the fishtank, and bids her glasses farewell by stamping on them. But the lens turns out to be a fragment of shell, and Karen must wear her smashed spectacles. At this point, Mr. Jonathan arrives to thank Karen for the improved litter situation, but is turned down for a date again. As he leaves Spatz, he sees litter everywhere again, grabs a rubbish bag, and marches angrily back inside.
TJ has found Karen's lens.
KAREN: Oh, TJ, I could kiss you! [TJ puckers up, but gets a Post-It Note on his mouth.]
Mr. Jonathan comes into the office, and empties rubbish - "Yours, I believe!" - all over the desk, burying Karen's lens.
Freddy and Vince haven't found the missing money; Captain Electric offers to help. Debbie and Stanley come over to receive an explanation, and learn what has happened.
CAPTAIN ELECTRIC: The hunt is on! Captain Electric to the rescue! Shazam! [rushes off]
Vince says that the gang must help Freddy replace the money; they empty their pockets, and together have £9.26 and a Venusian 50 pence piece (that Captain Electric had given Vince in exchange for a filofax).
STANLEY: All we need is another £2990.74 and we’re laughing.
Stanley has a plan: they buy £9.26-worth of shares at the mall’s new underwear store, Undieworld, and then buy loads of underwear so that the shares shoot up in value. But Freddy has seen a money lender's ad in a newspaper among the rubbish.
The money lender, Danny Bunce (played by Anthony O'Donnell), meets Freddy at a table in Spatz. He gives her a form - composed entirely of small print - to sign, and then the money - £3000 in a plain brown envelope. As he goes to the counter to buy a meal, Vince takes Freddie aside and warns Freddy about Bunce - he's a loanshark, and Vince explains why he’s called Danny by singing the theme from Jaws: "Dan Dan Dan Dan Dan Dan..." (Anthony O'Donnell would later play a loanshark called Dan Sharkey in various episodes of Mike & Angelo.) Meanwhile, Dexter clears Bunce's table. Vince checks the form’s small print, and discovers that Freddy will have to pay £9000 interest on her £3000 loan. They go over to Bunce to ask him to relent, and he recognise Vince as 'Frank Powers' boy", but he won’t. Freddy returns to the table; the money is gone.
Dexter takes the latest bag of rubbish to the bin in the back yard, and finds Captain Electric inside!
DEXTER: I've told you before, right, this is not a space rocket, it's a BIN!
CAPTAIN ELECTRIC: Yes, it's a-bin to Mars, it's a-bin to Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto... [Dexter stuffs the rubbish on top of him and shuts the lid.]
The gang discuss the new money loss, and echo shock. Dexter mentions clearing Bunce’s table; they rush to the back yard, and begin emptying the bin.
TJ comes downstairs with Karen, who can now see; but she sees customers filing out, and no staff.
The gang find nothing in the bin but rubbish.
FREDDY: If it’s not in the bin, where is it?
STANLEY: The same place as the other £3000. Lost.
Dexter tells Freddy that she must confess all to TJ. They head back inside, and Freddy is about to, when two people come into the restaurant:
MR. JONATHAN: Does anyone here recognise this character?
EVERYONE ELSE: [In unison] Yes, it's Captain Electric!
Captain Electric has an envelope containing £3000, which he had tried to pay into the Spatz account. He gives it to Freddy, who gives it to TJ, who gives it to Mr. Jonathan. Captain Electric asks, as a reward for finding the money in his "spaceship", for another of Vince’s "Andromedan filofaxes", and Vince directs him to the back room to collect one. Mr. Jonathan is denied a date with Karen once again. When the staff all try to explain the day's events at once, Karen and TJ give up on seeking an explanation and go back upstairs.
In the back room, Captain Electric takes an envelope out of Vince’s box, sniffs it, and takes out £3000! He rushes it back out to Freddy, and she hands it to Danny Bunce, who is eating at his table.
BUNCE: What about my interest?
VINCE: £3000, for 5 minutes, at 33% interest, that’s, erm, 1 Venusian 50 pence piece. Keep the change!
He throws the coin across to Freddie, as Captain Electric reenters the restaurant in his customer guise!
This episode is available in full on YouTube.
The staff are lined up in the staff room. Karen tells them that for a month (September), they must give all customers a "Spatz Super Smile ... no less than 10.2 centimetres" or the customer gets a free meal. Free to the customer, that is, but paid for from the staff member's wages.
In the restaurant, flanked by posters for the Super Smile promotion, the staff are serving customers - with fixed grins that look far from welcoming. One man (played by Andrew Jarvis) thinks that they're mocking his bald head, so he takes off his wig (which had in fact concealed it from the staff) and storms out. Karen arrives. When Debbie tells her that she's turned away 39 customers in half an hour, Karen replies that it's "early days".
TJ arrives back from his holiday, sporting a moustache. Karen tells him it is a "ludicrous monstrosity ... like a gerbil stapled to your lip."
Up in the office, Karen explains the smile promotion while TJ admires his moustache in the mirror. This annoys Karen.
TJ: You're just jealous because you can't grow one.
KAREN: I can too!
Karen sprays breath freshener around TJ: he reeks of garlic, a smell that turns her stomach. He chases her out by breathing on her.
Debbie is outside the office door. Three men, suited and sinister-looking, have come to see TJ. They are Horace Flint (played by Richard O'Callaghan), Philip (played by Alan Bennion) and Manfred (played by Phil Atkinson).
TJ: Let me guess. You're either restaurant critics, or mobsters here to bully me out of money each week.
HORACE: Well I'm not a restaurant critic.
To show that they mean business, Manfred pokes a hole in the water cooler with a pen. TJ plugs it with his thumb. Horace takes a phone call from Mr. Frapelli and drops the receiver in the fish tank. He demands £100 to ensure that there are no more "accidents", and gives TJ 24 hours to decide.
The next day, Debbie cries when a customer (played by Anthony Benditti) orders orange squash: that morning, her boyfriend Derek had squashed her cat Fluffy. The customer, a vicar, consoles Debbie - then claims his free meal. He leaves singing All Things Bright and Beautiful as Karen arrives.
TJ: We had three guys in here yesterday.
KAREN: Holy moly, business is going through the roof!
TJ: Will you please take me seriously?
KAREN: With that thing on your face? Hahaha, you've got to be kidding.
Karen tells TJ that she refuses to kow-tow to bullies. Then she enters the office, finds Horace and his heavies in there, and immediately becomes sweet and compliant. She tries to stop TJ standing up to them, insisting that they pay Horace - in fact, she offers him £150. But TJ turfs Horace out of the office. He has his answer.
Karen comes downstairs and finds the staff wearing cardboard smiles. She tears them off one by one. Just then, a brick smashes through the window, sending sparks shooting out of the neon Spatz logo and causing £1000-worth of damage. In case there was any doubt who threw the brick, it has 'IT WAS US' written on it. Karen demands that TJ give her the key to the office safe so that she can get money for Horace. TJ refuses and Karen pursues him out into the courtyard, where he eludes her by hiding behind the bins.
Into the courtyard come Philip and Manfred. They've been told to start a fire but have forgotten the matches. Hearing this, TJ shows himself and threatens to call the police. The heavies advance on him and Manfred throws a punch.
Back in the restaurant, the staff are clearing up the broken glass when they see Philip and Manfred running past. TJ staggers in from the back of the restaurant: he has gained a black eye and lost half his moustache. Karen arrives and laughs at TJ. He still has no intention of paying the mobsters.
It's dark. Amanda Quince (played by Leigh Funnelle) arrives at the restaurant and meets the staff. She's a martial arts and self defence teacher who's been hired by a very worried Freddy.
AMANDA: I wanna show you that self defence has nothing to do with size and strength. Remember, David defeated Goliath.
STANLEY: You taught David? You must be good. And about 3000 years old.
TJ arrives and insists that violence is not the answer. Amanda is turned away, but she is furious at her time being wasted, and chops up a broom into several pieces before calmly leaving. Then the phone behind the counter rings: it's Horace, for TJ. TJ tells him in no uncertain terms to stay away. The staff are delighted with TJ's defiance, until he reveals that Horace is responding by coming round in half an hour to break their legs. Telling the staff to go home and let him handle it himself, TJ goes upstairs. Debbie insists that they stick up for their mate and use their advantage over the thugs: brains.
Horace, Philip, Manfred and four more heavies arrive. He sends two round the back, two into the alley and Manfred and Philip in the front. They find the door unlocked and the restaurant in darkness.
One by one, the thugs fall as the hidden staff spring traps and tricks on them. Debbie tips a vat of custard on one of them and he is pelted with eggs through a pipe. Another one gets mummified in toilet paper and blunders into a door which Dexter pulls closed with string. Philip slips over on sausages and knocks the milkshake machine on, drenching himself. Manfred is terrified by a monster on the stairs with a body of buckets, eyes of drink lids and a cardboard smile (from earlier on), and the monster tumbles onto him.
Horace ventures inside and finds his boys slumped over the counter. The lights come on and there stand the Spatz staff, outnumbering Flint. Then TJ comes downstairs and his friends attribute the entire fight-back to him, "the Calgary crusher". Horace cowers by the stairs. ("Horace Wimp, is this your life?" as ELO once sang.)
STANLEY: Maybe he's just a nasty little wimp. All mouth and no Y-fronts.
STANLEY: Oh sorry. All trousers and no Y-fronts.
TJ reaches into his jacket. Horace, fearing a gun is about to be drawn, rallies his henchmen and leaves, never to return. It turns out that TJ was reaching into his pocket to get the money to pay Horace. He tells the staff that he owes them one, and Freddie proceeds to whisper in his ear.
The next day, Karen arrives to find TJ in a cheerful mood. She claims that she too could have "creamed the local mafia" if she'd been there, and she won't thank him. Then she notices that all the customers are leaving. She demands to know why, and asks where the staff's smiles are. Holding up garlic, they reply, "Hhhhere, Miss HHHHansson" - with smiles on their faces and garlic on their breaths. Karen nearly passes out.
In the staff room, Freddy is checking herself in the mirror, which is behind the door. Stanley enters hurriedly and tells the others that he saw Derek Pewley on his way in. Vince arrives and says the same. Debbie is livid to hear that the man who left her for Joyce Fisher is back in town, and storms out. Freddy, who is very superstitious, frets about the mirror, which broke when Stanley barged through the door.
FREDDY: 7 years of doom, 84 months of misery, 364 weeks of woe, 12555 days of disaster … It all begins. 66320 hours of awfulness, 3679200 minutes of mayhem!
Dexter lends Freddy a calculator so that she can work out how long it is in seconds.
Karen is back from the Fast Food Federation Annual General Meeting in Barcelona. In a cheerful mood, she orders TJ up to his office. Freddy is worried.
KAREN: You a gambling man, Strickland?
TJ: You bet!
Karen unscrews TJ's name plate from the office door. She reveals that on the last day of the conference, Spatz owner Louis Frapelli played poker against rival fast food magnate Roland Blimpy, and lost $20000, his Porsche, and Spatz. TJ is out of a job.
Having found out the bad news along with the others, Freddy warns that it is "Dame Fortune sticking the boot in." She is pleased to have found a horseshoe in Stanley's locker. Debbie is not so superstitious. Then she finds Derek (played by David Harewood) standing at the counter. Very upset at seeing the man who jilted her, Debbie storms off. Derek asks Freddy to pass on his apologies, love and flowers to Debbie. Meanwhile, Karen is leaving and The Wizard of Oz is on her mind.
KAREN: I'd like to say it's been a pleasure. But why lie? … So goodbye, restaurant. [To the staff] Goodbye, Munchkins. [To TJ] Goodbye, Straw Man. You I'll miss most of all. [Witch's cackle]
Karen passes Blimpy's manager Ivor Willis (played by Paul Grunert) in the doorway. Accompanied by workmen, he has come to turn Spatz into a Blimpy's.
IVOR: From today, things are going to be very different round here. Strickland, office, now!
TJ: Not that different.
Ivor loves his new office. When he offers TJ a job, the former manager declines and resigns. But Ivor delightedly reminds him that, according to his contract, he cannot leave without giving a month's notice.
In the next scene, the restaurant has been almost totally redecorated, and is now a Blimpy's. All the staff are in green and white Blimpy's uniforms, except Debbie, who’s been made Ivor's "private secretary" and is dressed smartly. She comes downstairs on her way to pick up chocolate éclairs for Ivor, and complains to TJ, who tries to be philosophical about life's ups and downs. As Debbie leaves, a man with a top hat and cane (played by James Saxon) enters and asks to see the manager. Dexter calls him "Bessie Bunter in drag", but he introduces himself as Roland Blimpy.
Debbie returns, hounded by Derek, who explains that he didn't dump her on their wedding day. Joyce Fisher had asked him for a lift to Gretna Green, and thinking that it was "somewhere in North London", Derek obliged. After a long drive, they stopped for petrol, and Joyce ran off with a truck driver bound for Yugoslavia. Debbie berates Derek for being such a pushover ("a walking advert for carpets"), and tells him to make his own decisions, before sending him staggering off with an éclair in the face.
TJ talks to the others about Roland Blimpy's gambling obsession. Vince hits on the idea of winning Spatz back in the same way it was lost, and TJ reveals himself to be skilled with a deck of cards.
TJ: Can I play poker? Is Ivor Willis a lump of lard? You ain't seen nothing yet!
Roland comes downstairs with Ivor. While Debbie distracts Ivor by telling him that there’s a phone call for him in the office, TJ introduces himself to Roland, while the others gather round and praise TJ’s poker abilities. Roland expresses his own lifelong passion for poker, and TJ invites him to play a hand. But Roland reveals that his wife has forced him to give up poker – he gambled away several of her possessions – and refuses to play. As he departs for the betting shop, Derek enters with a box of chocolates.
In the office, Ivor gives Debbie a huge cake order to get – not to sell in the restaurant, but for him to eat. He then flirts with Debbie, tries to kiss her, and blocks her way when she refuses. Hearing Debbie scream, Derek rushes upstairs and beats up Ivor (with the staff watching).
DEREK: You try that again, mister, and you're a… you’re a… well you know what I mean, don’t you?
Debbie kisses Derek, and the pair make up.
It's the new Blimpy's opening day. Ivor has the staff lined up and he reminds them that they're Blimpettes now. Ivor's order of two crates of éclairs arrives, and he claims it would be a "piece of cake" for him to eat them all. The disgusted staff speak out against Ivor's swaggering and bragging and tell him that TJ is the better man. Ivor bets that TJ can't eat as much as he can. The staff disagree. Ivor takes this as a challenge, and TJ accepts "for the honour of Spatz". Ivor and TJ sit down with the éclairs, and the contest begins. The staff cheer TJ on.
As the public watch through the front window, Roland arrives, and Vince tells him what's going on. Roland tells Ivor that if TJ beats him, he will beat him. 33 all. In the heat of the moment, Vince draws Roland into a wager: if TJ wins, he gets Spatz back; if Ivor wins, Roland gets TJ's flat, stereo, hockey stick and cowboy boots. 99 all. TJ grabs an éclair from Ivor's hand and eats it to win. Ivor falls over, the staff cheer, and Roland snaps his cane in annoyance.
In the next scene, the restaurant is a Spatz again. The staff, back in their old uniforms, dance and sing. It turns out that TJ was high school pancake-eating champion. Freddy, seeing that everything is going better than ever, is no longer superstitious. TJ throws her horseshoe away… and it hits a returning Karen in the face. Grabbing TJ by the throat, she orders him to the office.
Since writing this, the full episode has been uploaded to YouTube.
On a stormy day, two eccentric bag ladies, Lou (played by Anna Wing) and Mildred (played by Denise Coffey, last seen in Series 2’s Fire Alarm) are taking ages at the Spatz counter, as they count out coins. Karen arrives and learns that the businessman behind them (played by Geoffrey Swann) has been waiting for 10 minutes.
KAREN: Dexter! Will you serve this gentleman?
DEXTER: I don’t believe it. She just got my name right.
DEBBIE: Yeah, but she was talking to me.
Karen orders the ladies out, but not before almost having a fist fight with Mildred. The businessman pays for his Cheese Maxi (£1.70) by tipping money out of his shoe. TJ comes downstairs and receives verbal abuse from Karen.
TJ: Ah! First one of the day, nothing like it.
VINCE: So how many insults are you on now, TJ, 60 a day?
TJ: No, I’m up to 80. Someone ought to stamp a government health warning on her tongue.
It stops raining. TJ goes to investigate a small group of people outside. They include colleagues Craig (played by Benjamin Hallam), Hayley (played by Lucy Briers) and Pippa Dee (played by Jan Ravens), producer of Lenny's Lunchtime Laugh-In: Lenny the Lion’s children's TV show, which they plan to do live from the mall on Saturday. Hayley brings up a "bijou problemette": it turns out that the mall is entirely open-air, but rain is forecast for Saturday. TJ solves this problem by offering Pippa the use of Spatz. She leaves for lunch with Rudy Rooster.
TJ sees Mildred checking a litter bin. She has lost her umbrella. She remembers that it's by the counter, and TJ takes her inside to collect it. Karen is furious, and orders Mildred to leave again. Mildred puts a curse on Karen, calling for bad luck and disaster to follow her everywhere, and then runs out cackling. The weather has turned stormy again. Superstitious Freddy is worried, warning Karen that Mildred may have the evil eye, but Karen dismisses the idea that she’s been cursed - and walks straight into a customer, getting milkshake down her outfit. She snatches the customer’s scarf to wipe it off. While Freddy frets, Vince smiles to himself.
Karen storms to the office in order to get changed, slamming the door in TJ's face. Through the door, he tells her about the Lenny the Lion plan; but Karen, who hates kids and puppets that attract snot-nosed kids even more, tells TJ to "unarrange" it. Opening the door, Karen gives TJ her outfit to be taken to the dry cleaner, and orders him to get her a sandwich, tuna mayo on granary bread, while he’s at it. Vince appears, wanting the key for the back gate; TJ tells him it's on his desk, and Vince enters the office to get it, closing the door behind him. TJ remarks on Karen's bad mood.
TJ: Are you grouchy today! In fact, I'll give you 10 out of 10 Grouchy Marks!
Karen reenters the office and sits at the computer. Vince says that he can’t find the key. Freddy enters the office with a tray of rubbish she's collected (for some reason), and just then, the computer explodes, sending out sparks. Then Karen leans on a shelf, and it collapses. Freddy says that this is the curse in action, and it’s reminded her of "the curse of Alistair McAllister". As the lights go down and bagpipe music starts up, Freddy tells the story.
FREDDY: When he stole Mother McMurtaugh's prize pig, she put a curse on him. That very same day, his croft burnt to the ground. Then his favourite cow was struck by lightning. His wife ran off with a travelling sporran salesman ... as he was walking past the Highland Games, a stray caber came flying over the fence and knocked his head off!
Karen claims not to be scared, having never stolen a pig in her life.
Downstairs, Debbie and Stanley talk about curses and the unexplained, such as crop circles and Jason Donovan record sales. TJ returns from the one-hour dry cleaner with Karen's outfit. He has Karen’s sandwich too, but when he tells her that they were out of mayo, she is beside herself, and overwhelmed by her bad luck, refuses the ‘jinxed’ sandwich. Returning to the office with TJ, Karen finds Vince returning the back gate key, and she orders both men to leave. Karen slams the office door, which promptly falls off its hinges. Karen clings to TJ in fear, then resolves to find Mildred and get the curse lifted.
Later: Spatz is closed, and the staff are in their everyday clothes in the staff room. Karen is in her dry-cleaned outfit. She can’t find Mildred. Suddenly she gets an excruciating pain in the back of her neck as the staff look on. Debbie mentions voodoo. Karen begs Freddy for help, only to be told by Freddy that she's "a dead woman". Vince recommends that Karen counter the curse by being nice, and after suffering another bout of intense pain, she agrees. Dexter asks to be made assistant manager, and Karen grants his request, as well as approving TJ's Lenny the Lion arrangement.
Saturday morning: jungle scenery is being set up in the restaurant, ready for Lenny's Lunchtime Laugh-In. Karen arrives holding a flower, and is sweet and lovely to all. She is pleased to tell Freddy that she has been free of pain and accidents for two days. When a customer complains that his burger is cold, Karen apologises and arranges for him to have a replacement burger and a free milkshake. Dexter appears, dressed in a suit and throwing his weight around: livid over the cold burger, he orders Vince and Debbie to his office, just as Lenny the Lion and Terry Hall arrive.
Dexter's office, it turns out, is the staff room. He has taken it over, forcing the staff to change in the back yard. Sitting at his executive desk, he bellows at Debbie and Vince that they'll be sacked unless they improve. They are dismissed, and Dexter makes a call on his mobile phone - so he can ask his mum to set the video for Huxley Pig. (Coincidentally, Huxley Pig was shown straight after Spatz during CITV's Old Skool Weekend in January 2013.) Debbie complains to Vince about Dexter's behaviour, and he replies that he wishes he'd "never started the whole thing" but won’t explain further.
12pm comes and the live show begins. Children watch from rows of chairs. TJ experiences neck pain like Karen's. She discovers that he forgot to take the pin out of the cleaning ticket in his dry-cleaned jacket. Lenny the Lion picks TJ and Karen to be boys' and girls' team captains for a series of games. These include: a tug of war with a giant snake, leaving Karen exhausted; pin the tail on the cheetah, during which a blindfolded boy sticks a pin in Karen's bum; a race between the teams to untie their captains. The boys win this, so TJ gets to "pull the python", and gunge pours onto Karen’s head. She sees Lou and Mildred laughing in the doorway, and it's No More Miss Nice Girl as she stalks over.
Dripping with brown slime, Karen confronts Mildred outside, telling her that she beat the curse. Lou explains that there was no curse: Mildred had been influenced by seeing the Wicked Witch in The Wizard Of Oz. Mildred runs off and Lou chases after her nutty friend.
All the staff come outside, and Vince admits that he staged the office mishaps for a joke. But he’s not confessing out of guilt: he wants Dexter off their backs.
Karen, now back in wicked witch mode herself, strips Dexter of his assistant manager's badge and threatens Vince with death (though in the event he doesn't even get fired - a miracle!). As she announces that she never believed in the curse, lightning strikes the bin behind her, filling it with smoke and fire.
Since writing this, the full episode has been uploaded to YouTube.
The rehearsal script for this episode, kindly given to me by Lee Pressman, is available here. You might enjoy contrasting it to the finished episode.
Debbie opens the restaurant, and her boyfriend Derek Pewley (played by David Harewood, last seen in Series 2 episode Takeover) is desperately jostling for attention within the early morning crowd. (We learn that the cost of 6 Breakfast Buckets is £10.65, and that 3 coffees and 6 doughnuts cost £3.20.) He wants to know why Debbie stormed off while he was teaching her to drive the previous night. Debbie notes that among other things, Derek wore a crash helmet and stopped her from driving above first gear, and that she resents being treated like an idiot. She disappears into the back, leaving Derek talking to the other staff.
FREDDIE: In my opinion, Derek, you’re persona non grata.
DEREK: You what?
DEXTER: That is haggis-chat for "your bird has dumped you".
Derek refuses to believe this, insisting that he's the only man in Debbie's life. He leaves.
VINCE: Their relationship's been on and off more times than Michael Jackson's nose.
Mr. C. Stubbs, the mall manager (played by John Grillo), arrives to see TJ, though Dexter warns him that TJ is extremely busy.
Stubbs enters the office to find TJ playing with his Rudy Rooster train set, which includes Strick Land and Not Funny Junction. Stubbs tells TJ about a break-in at the mall's video shop the previous night – the third in a month – and gives him a poster to put up, advertising for a security guard.
TJ: You should have done this before.
STUBBS: I did. Someone nicked all the posters.
Stanley and Freddy are filling the staff room with boxes, as part of a secret venture. Dexter arrives and is curious.
STANLEY: Why should we tell you that we’re earning some extra money by assembling 20000 Christmas crackers in our coffee break?
Dexter demands "a piece of the action". Debbie, who comes in to get her jacket, isn't interested – she has her own secret project. The gang follow her, and spy on her through the smeary front window, going off with a handsome man (played by William Vanderpuye).
STANLEY: I think it's disgusting.
FREDDY: What, cheating on Derek?
STANLEY: No, this window. I can’t see anything!
Karen arrives, sending the staff back to work.
TJ hears Karen coming and hides the train set.
TJ: Hi, Karen. I was just doing the fiscal payment requirements for the audit on the pickle account.
KAREN: What does that mean?
TJ: I have no idea.
TJ's train runs from under the desk, across the floor. Karen has a box, with a brand new laptop, around which she sets up a "20-mile exclusion zone" – she sends TJ out of the office.
Derek arrives with flowers for Debbie, but is told by the boys that Debbie is seeing someone else. When Debbie arrives, she struggles to deny that she was with another man. Derek is distraught, and as he staggers to the door, he catches Stubbs' poster.
The next morning. Debbie arrives late and is in a cagey mood.
TJ: What’s with her?
DEXTER: It’s guilt, innit? 'Eats away at the soul like a moth that feeds on silken liver.'
TJ: That's good, Dexter, who wrote that? Wordsworth? Shakespeare?
DEXTER: No, Huxley Pig.
FREDDY: … 'Love is a worm that poisons the soul.'
TJ: Huxley Pig?
FREDDY: Poddington Peas.
Stubbs arrives with the new security guard – Derek! He sees Debbie and chases her to the staff room, where she holds the door half-closed against him. She has worked out that Derek’s motive is to spy on her, and he confirms this, telling her that his scrutiny with prevent her from seeing her fancy man. Debbie angrily opens the door fully, so that Derek falls onto an open box of cracker parts.
DEBBIE: I do what I like, when I like, and with whom I like, geddit?
Derek follows Debbie back out the counter, and when she complains, Karen collars him.
KAREN: Excuse me! I’m the only one around here who’s allowed to harass the staff!
Karen is sceptical about Derek’s new job, so he proves his efficiency by swiftly handcuffing Karen and TJ together.
DEREK: Anybody messes with Derek Pewley, clunk click, they’re in the nick.
However, when Derek can't find the key for the handcuffs, Karen is livid. Derek goes off to get Mr. Stubbs.
That evening, in the office, Stubbs reveals that the handcuffs are fool-proof and can only be removed with the key. Karen, who hasn't been to the toilet for 9 hours, is horrified.
STUBBS: Not even Houdini could get out of these.
KAREN: I bet if he was chained to Strickland he'd think of a way!
From the office window, Derek sees Debbie going off with her new man, and runs outside. Stubbs tries a chainsaw on the handcuffs, with no success. Derek is too late, and stands sobbing as Stubbs leaves the restaurant. Karen/TJ have closed up and run outside, but want to leave in opposite directions. Karen calls for them to decide rationally – she stamps on TJ's foot and drags him with her.
A man in black (played by Roger Monk) places a ladder up to the office window, arousing Derek's suspicions.
BURGLAR: I’m a window cleaner.
DEREK: A window cleaner? At night?
BURGLAR: I… use a luminous Shammy?
DEREK: OK. Alright then. Up you go. Do you want me to hold the ladder for you? … Mind yourself … Alright up there?
Derek is so grief-stricken over Debbie that he misses multiple burglars going by.
The next morning, Stubbs, Vince and Derek stand in TJ's ransacked office. Karen's £2000 laptop is gone: the burglar had convinced Derek that he was taking it away for a service wash. After noting that the mall has just suffered more break-ins in one night than in a whole year prior to Derek’s arrival, Stubbs sacks Derek, but Derek's only concern is Debbie.
Debbie meets Karen & TJ as they arrive at Spatz. Karen & TJ spent the night going round and round on the Circle Line – fine for Karen, but not for TJ, as the doors closed before he could get on! Derek appears, and Karen & TJ rush to check the state of the office. Derek confronts Debbie over her "fancy man" and just as he denies it, the man drops by to return Debbie's scarf.
Derek pursues Debbie to the back room, where the other staff are finishing off the cracker-making. Pressed by Derek for an answer, Debbie explains that she loves Derek, and that her ‘fancy man’ is in fact her driving instructor! She has been taking lessons in secret in order not to hurt Derek’s feelings. The pair make up; Vince and Freddy pull a cracker to celebrate, and out comes a key – Derek’s missing key! Karen arrives with TJ, seething with anger about her stolen laptop… when she sees the key in Derek’s hand. He frees her from the handcuffs.
KAREN: Oh bliss! Oh rapture! Oh bathroom! [runs into the staff toilets]
Freddy wonders why the cracker didn’t go bang and realises that they forgot to make up the crackers with bangers in! They have to undo them all and start again!
Clips from this episode can be seen at the end of the YouTube upload of the previous episode, Driving Miss Wesley.
Late December snow falls. Karen sees a busker performing outside Spatz, and borrows scissors to cut his guitar strings. Her bad mood bothers the staff.
DEBBIE: I think we'd better wait 'til she's in a better mood.
FREDDY: That'll be the day Captain Ahab joins Save The Whale.
So instead of asking Karen, they ask TJ: can they have a staff Christmas party? TJ, confident that Karen will agree, says yes.
A gorgeous young woman named Donna Edwards (played by Chloë Annett) comes to the counter to order a bean burger. Vince is love-struck and tongue-tied, so Freddy serves her with her "Windy
Upstairs in the office:
TJ: You're making a sign.
KAREN: Go to the top of the class, Strickland. And jump off.
Karen writes a notice: 'BUSKERS WILL BE BURNT AT THE STAKE'. She tells TJ that she hates buskers because they are eating up Christmas shoppers' small change, which she'd rather was spent at Spatz.
KAREN: I'm not gonna get it if those tin-pot tone-deaf terrorists keep driving them away.
She hears another busker playing his bagpipes and proceeds to phone the police.
Donna returns to Spatz with two friends. Vince runs off, embarrassed. Stanley and Dexter encourage him to approach her again, but she is talking with her friends about Byron and Shakespeare, and feeling outclassed, Vince flees again.
Inspector Platt (played by John Bardon) arrives with a WPC, having been called to an "emergency" by Karen. He is none too pleased to find only a busker, but after some argument agrees to move the bagpiper along. Meanwhile, TJ still hasn't asked her about the party, but is confident she'll approve it.
In the staff room, Vince confides in TJ about Donna, revealing that toilet door graffiti is the only poetry he knows. TJ demonstrates a love of English poetry by quoting Wordsworth at Vince.
VINCE: What toilets do you use?
TJ writes the lines out on Vince’s hand. Vince then manages to impress Donna by reciting them to her.
DONNA: You can be so wrong about people, can’t you?
She promises to meet up with Vince the following morning. He is elated.
The next morning, before opening time: the staff are organising the Christmas party in the staff room. Dexter is disappointed with the LPs Stanley has brought in: The Golden Age Of Steam: 20 Of Your Favourite Whistles, and The Speeches Of Winston Churchill, which
TJ opens the restaurant, and welcomes the customers.
TJ: Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, give yourself a treat, when you eat at Spat...z.
DONNA: That certainly wasn't Wordsworth.
Vince chats to Donna, while the other staff eavesdrop by cleaning nearby. Vince tells Donna that he is an Oxbridge professor, working at Spatz as research for his book on "poetry in the common workplace"; and not only does he have the same favourite poem as Donna (Tintern Abbey by Wordsworth), but he delivered a ground-breaking Open University lecture on it. Donna delightedly promises to bring her friends back to Spatz to hear Vince's expert knowledge on the poem, as they are studying it for their Finals. As TJ warns off a trombonist before Karen can get to him, Vince asks him for help.
Vince gives a lecture for Donna and her two course mates, reading from notes secreted under napkins and on the back of a ketchup bottle. Vince panics when Graham asks, is one particular line of Tintern Abbey is "ironical or rhetorical, or is it mere whimsical lyricism?" Pretending to rush to the toilet, Vince goes upstairs to get help from TJ, who hides on the stairs and silently mimes an answer to Vince. But TJ is soon called back to work by Karen. Meanwhile, Karen spots a band of elves busking outside, with someone in a bear costume holding a charity bucket.
Vince secretly organises for the other staff to find answers to questions as he calls them out, using books on the floor behind the counter, and then to write them out in notes hidden on their backs as they pass, and in a burger which Vince is handed. But Vince misreads a note; Graham finds it, and having rumbled Vince, Donna's friends leave in disgust. Vince runs off, but Donna lingers, pensively.
While this is going on, Karen blasts the buskers with a fire extinguisher, and the bear comes up to the office to complain. He takes off his headpiece. It's Inspector Platt, and the buskers were a police band! As Platt threatens Karen with assault charges, she is obliged to give him increasing amounts of money to appease him. When he hears from Freddy that Karen’s lack of Christmas spirit stretches to denying her staff a Christmas party, Platt threatens to take her into custody; she empties one of the tills into his charity bucket.
KAREN: Take all my profits! Stab me in the heart. Have a merry Christmas.
KAREN: Have your lousy party! [The staff cheer]
Donna finds Vince wallowing on the back steps.
DONNA: I don’t like being lied to. And I don’t want you to ever lie to me again.
Vince’s face lights up as Donna kisses him, and snow begins to fall.
The night of the party: Karen finishes work and leaves the building, but is grabbed by a conga line and driven into the festivities in the staff room, and under the mistletoe, where TJ is dressed as Father Christmas. Donna and Vince watch, amused. TJ plants a kiss on Karen, and his white beard ends up stuck to her face!
TJ: Why, Miss Hansson, you're beautiful!