The Best Episodes of Black Books

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

Grapes of Wrath

#1 - Grapes of Wrath

Season 1 - Episode 3

Bernard and Manny accept a house-sitting job to get away from their new cleaner. They also drink some wine.

star 8.19
367 votes
Directors: Graham Linehan
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#2 - Party

Season 3 - Episode 6

Fed up with being stuck in the dusty old bookshop on a Friday night, and with the hopes of meeting a delectable young lady at a party, Manny and Fran persuaded Bernard to attend a party. After a night of heavy drinking, a very sloshed Bernard has a nasty surprise waiting for him.

star 8.14
212 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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The Blackout

#3 - The Blackout

Season 1 - Episode 4

A hyper, coffee fueled Manny is mistaken for a policeman.

star 8.13
340 votes
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The Big Lock-Out

#4 - The Big Lock-Out

Season 1 - Episode 5

The shop gets a new security system that no-one can work.

star 8.08
311 votes
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Cooking the Books

#5 - Cooking the Books

Season 1 - Episode 1

Bernard’s dodgy accountant has to go on the run, leaving him ill prepared to fill out his own tax return. In fact Bernard would rather do anything than fill it out.

star 8.07
506 votes
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The Entertainer

#6 - The Entertainer

Season 2 - Episode 1

Fran buys a piano and starts taking lessons, discovering she has no talent whatsoever - meanwhile Bernard falls in love and tries desperately to impress her. Between them, they con Manny into throwing away a hard-earned break to help them out.

star 8.06
295 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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Elephants and Hens

#7 - Elephants and Hens

Season 3 - Episode 2

It is International Children's Book Week, and Bernard and Manny decide to write their own kids' classic and retire on the proceeds. Fran is off on a hen weekend, but still finds a way to fall out with Bernard and Manny.

star 8.02
232 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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A Little Flutter

#8 - A Little Flutter

Season 3 - Episode 4

Manny places a bet on the Grand National for Bernard who immediately becomes addicted to the thrill of gambling having previously expressed no interest. But his losses mount, and he starts borrowing gambling funds from increasingly scary people.

star 7.97
218 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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Manny’s First Day

#9 - Manny’s First Day

Season 1 - Episode 2

After Manny’s help with the tax return Bernard is persuaded to hire him in the shop. Unfortunately he actually sells some books, much to Bernard’s annoyance.

star 7.97
378 votes
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#10 - Blood

Season 2 - Episode 4

When Manny is drawn into a competing bookstore by its customer-friendly atmosphere, he convinces Bernard the shop needs an overhaul. Fran makes use of the shop's improved facilities to track down her relatives, but is not entirely happy with what she finds.

star 7.94
280 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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Manny Come Home

#11 - Manny Come Home

Season 3 - Episode 1

Fran returns from a vacation in Cornwall to discover Manny has resigned and Bernard is living amongst piles of his own filth and dead badgers. Manny has taken up work at the new bookstore next to Black Books, where he must contend with a new, and possibly even more demanding manager, played by Simon Pegg.

star 7.92
255 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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Moo-ma and Moo-pa

#12 - Moo-ma and Moo-pa

Season 3 - Episode 3

Manny is panicking about the impending visit of his parents - Fran blackmails Bernard into letting them stay by threatening to tell Manny Bernard has been screening his calls to keep him from going anywhere. When Manny's parents arrive however, the duo are forced to corroborate some slightly embellished details from Manny's letters home.

star 7.91
227 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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The Fixer

#13 - The Fixer

Season 2 - Episode 3

Bernard and Manny need to teach a psychotic ex-con to read in three days after agreeing to host his reading and book-signing in the shop. Fran gets a new job and all seems to be going well until some miscommunication when Manny calls in a favour...

star 7.86
267 votes
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A Nice Change

#14 - A Nice Change

Season 2 - Episode 6

Bernard and Manny can't hear themselves argue because the shop next door is undergoing some round-the-clock construction. The noise drives Bernard, Manny and Fran up the wall. So Fran suggests a holiday. Bernard and Manny find baggage in her luggage. There's nothing in the crisp packet and Manny's pants aren't that easy to fold. Will the customer crack the system? What happens on the riverboat? Just how many monkeys are missing in Canada?

star 7.83
251 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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#15 - Fever

Season 2 - Episode 2

As the temperature creeps slowly towards 88 degrees, Manny desperately seeks out new ways to stay cool, lest he trigger his "Dave syndrome." Meanwhile an unsympathetic Bernard falls hopelessly in love with Fran's new neighbour, who is unknowingly taking over Fran's apartment.

star 7.80
291 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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Hello Sun

#16 - Hello Sun

Season 2 - Episode 5

Fran starts spending time with a new-age friend to try and wind down while Bernard and Manny are having another fight. Bernard believes Manny is a psychopath and sends him to a therapist, where he unlocks a confidence he never knew he had.

star 7.78
253 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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He's Leaving Home

#17 - He's Leaving Home

Season 1 - Episode 6

Manny runs away from the bookshop into the arms of a beard loving photographer.

star 7.72
285 votes
Travel Writer

#18 - Travel Writer

Season 3 - Episode 5

Manny organises a travel-writing festival and invites a charming explorer to talk about his adventures. Fran soon falls for his twinkling eyes and lavish hair, leaving Manny ragingly jealous. Meanwhile, Bernard hires an assassin to solve a financial problem with his neighbour.

star 7.64
211 votes
Directors: Martin Dennis
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