Captain Peacock.

For those of you who don’t instantly recognise this name, think of what a person called Captain Peacock might look like and you won’t be far off.

The actual Captain Peacock was the character played so immaculately by the actor Frank Thornton in the 70s sitcom Are You Being Served?

When I was 14 I saw that same Frank Thornton playing Malvolio in a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford. This was inspired casting.

Both Malvolio and Captain Peacock share so much. Both are caught in the trap of middle management. Malvolio is higher status than the servants Fabian and Maria, but subservient to Lady Olivia for whom he acts as a steward.

As the floorwalker in a department store Captain Peacock is higher status than the sales people on the floor, Mr Humphreys (John Inman) and Mrs Slocombe (Molly Sugden). But subservient to Mr Rumbold (old jug ears) and ultimately young Mr Grace.

So when I was watching him play Malvolio the fact that all I could see was Captain Peacock didn’t really matter.

Oh, come on. There’s a thesis waiting for some eager young student in there somewhere, isn’t there?

Compare and contrast the social structures as depicted within Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with the hierarchies of class as displayed in the 1970s sitcom Are You Being Served.

I loved those old department stores.

The lifts, the signs for the different departments, the uniforms, the smell of perfume at the entrance, the glove department, the cash registers, fitted bras, melted butter on toasted teacakes in the cafe, measuring tapes draped over the shoulders of gentlemen fitters, escalators criss crossing the floors, toy departments, rugs and carpets, shop window displays and mannequins.

I’m glad to report that the modern version of the department store with at least some of the tradition, if not the floorwalker, is alive and well in Fenwick’s (formerly Willie G’s) on Colchester High Street.

This Saturday between noon and 2.30pm you can witness one of these mannequins coming to life. I’m putting on a show in the shop window. After appearing as Malvolio for The Priory Players in Castle Park a few years back, this seemed like to me like the obvious next step.

Loosely based on the 1980s film Mannequin, there are five performers bringing the shop window, literally, to life. It should be fun. If you’re in town, join me shivering outside for a few minutes. It’s a drop by sort of show.

If you haven’t seen the 1980s film, my advice is…don’t. It’s truly awful. In stark contrast, this piece of shop window theatre will be truly fab. Or your money back!