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Grapes of Wrath
Episode information
Episode No.




Original airdate

Friday, October 13, 2000

Cast and crew information
  • Dylan Moran
  • Graham Linehan
  • Graham Linehan
  • Nick Wood
  • Nira Park
  • Julian Meers
  • William Burdett-Couttes
Main cast
  • Dylan Moran
  • Bill Bailey
  • Tamsin Greig
Guest stars
  • Chris Larner as Freddie
  • Mark Aikean as Ben
Previous episode

Manny's First Day

Next episode

The Blackout

Grapes of Wrath is the third episode of the first series of the British sitcom, Black Books. It originally aired on the 13th of October, 2000. The script was written by Dylan Moran and Graham Linehan, who also directed the episode.

Plot synopsis[]

The episode opens with a pre-credits scene in a monastery in Bordeaux, 1900, in which one of the monks (Ben Homewood) rushes to his abbott (Paul Beech), informing him that a bunch of grapes have grown from a rose thorn. They decide to make a wine from the grapes, which they say "will be fit for the Holy Father himself". After the opening credits, the show returns to its original format, in which Manny (Bill Bailey), after seeing the state of the house, decides to bring in The Cleaner (Kevin Eldon), to see if he can improve the house's cleanliness. When a furious Bernard (Dylan Moran) finds out that this means they have to leave the house, both Manny and Bernard are forced to house-sit for their friend, Freddie (Chris Larner), who had tried to bribe them into house-sitting for him by offering them a massaging machine earlier in the episode.

Meanwhile, Fran (Tamsin Greig) is going out on a date and, after a series of unsuccessful ones, wants this one to go well, and buys herself a dress and makes a special effort to impress Ben (Mark Aikean), her date. However, she quickly starts embarassing herself and begins to notice something strange about Ben, and the fact that he talks with his mother 4-5 times a day.

Meanwhile, Manny is being shown around the house by Freddie, who explains about two racks of wine in the cellar. The larger rack is cheap wine which Manny and Bernard can drink as many bottles as they want, however, the smaller rack is expensive wine, one of which is worth $7000 and is being presented to the Pope. However, once Freddie has left, Manny mistakes the expensive rack for the cheap one, and they begin drinking thousands of pounds worth of wine. They come across a wine called Le Vin du Rosier, the wine made from the rose bush in the pre-credits scene which is worth £7000 and is being presented to the Pope. However, Manny and Bernard drink the entire bottle unaware.

Meanwhile, Fran discovers what is wrong with her date, and confirms it when she asked him "What do the following people have in common: Elton John, Ian McKellen, Jean-Paul Gaultier?" to which he replied "Well they're all fabulous". Meanwhile, Manny, after some research, discovers that Le Vin du Rosier is worth £7000, and remembers that he mistook the cheap rack for the expensive. However, Bernard has a plan to resolve the issue: to create a new strain of super-wine to replace a the one they just drank, with Manny as an assistant.

However, somehow, by mixing some Londis wine, nutmeg and a branch from an oak tree, they produce a bottle of wine, which they think resembles the original. One month later, the house has returned to its original, messy state. Fran comes in, showing off her new date, The Cleaner. Bernard then unfolds a newspaper with the headline "Pope killed by inferior wine - Man [Freddie] held". He then shows this to Manny, but points out that today is his birthday.

Cultural references[]

  • The episode is named after the novel 'The Grapes of Wrath', written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939.
  • When Bernard is attempting to make a replacement for 'Le Vin Du Rosier', Manny develops a limp and chips his tooth, making his face look deformed. With Bernard's wild hair and the thunderstorm outside, they make a startling resemblance to Igor and Dr. Frankenstein in the Mary Shelley novel, 'Frankenstein'. [Note: There is no character named Igor in Mary Shelley's novel.]
  • The songs that play during Fran and Ben's date are 'Big Spender' written by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields and 'I've Never Been To Me' by Charlene. However, in the latter, the music is correct, but the lyrics that Ben sings are wrong. The song in the show goes "I've been to Georgia and California and I've sipped champagne from a shoe", when the real song goes "I've been to Georgia and California and anywhere I could run" and "I've been to Nice and the Isle of Greece while I've sipped champagne on a yacht".

Behind the scenes[]

  • The woman walking past Freddie's house when Bernard is hitting Manny with a tree branch is Fran's friend, Julie Williams, who recently gave birth in the episode, Cooking the Books. She is the only appearing character to appear in two episodes apart from the main cast.
  • The painting that Manny discusses with Freddie is the same prop as in an episode of 'You Rang M'Lord' (Series 4 Episode 5 "Fall of the House of Meldrum", approx 44:30 through the episode ).
  • The house that Bernard and Manny are house-sitting is the same house used in the 'Not Going Out' series 10 Halloween Special.

External links[]

[1] 'Grapes of Wrath' on IMDb

[2] 'List of Black Books episodes' on Wikipedia

[2] 'Grapes of Wrath' on