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Manny Bianco
Biographical information

London, United Kingdom

  • Gandalf [1]
  • Ming the Merciless [1]
  • Thor [1]
  • Hawkwind [1]
  • Bigfoot [1]
  • Half Fu-Manchu, half Iago [1]
  • Genghis Khan [1]
  • Customer Lover [1]
  • Lord of the Rings [1]
  • David Copperfield [1]
  • The Manster [2]
  • Team Member No. 8 [3]
  • Manny-Moo [4]


Physical description




Hair colour


Eye colour


Skin colour


Family information
Family members

Worker and assistant in Black Books

Former Occupations
  • Accountant
  • Worker and assistant in Goliath Books [7]
Works in

Black Books


Manny Bianco , a worker in the bookshop Black Books, is the long-suffering assistant of Bernard Black, the drunken, pessimistic owner of the shop. He shares a friendship with Fran Katzenjammer, who secured his job in Black Books.


Early life[]

Manny was born in London, to George and Mary Bianco [8]. As a child, he moved around a lot and saw a lot of army bases 'by coincidence'. He was extremely hairy as a youth, with scientists ringing his parents asking if they could exhibit him at the local university. According to Manny, he has had his long hair since he was 9 years old.

Life as an accountant[]

"I hate my job."
—Manny Bianco

During his adulthood, Manny qualified to become an accountant, and started working for an unknown company. Despite being very professional and informative, he was extremely unhappy with his job, and was repeatedly being put under pressure. His stress levels got to such an extent that he bought The Little Book of Calm, in order to live life normally.

Life in Black Books[]

"You need someone normal around here."
—Fran Katzenjammer trying to persuade Bernard Black to hire Manny

In 2000, Manny was hired to work in the bookshop, Black Books, after he was accidently saved from a group of violent skinheads by the owner, Bernard Black. During an evening drink, Bernard hired Manny whilst under the influence of alcohol, and, when he had discovered what he had done, looked for reasons to fire Manny. Manny, who was determined to prove himself, persuaded Bernard to give him a one day trial. In that one day, Manny sold nearly all of the merchandise in the shop and was very helpful and friendly to all of the customers. However, Bernard, who hates people, feared that more customers would be attracted to the shop, and fired Manny.

Fran Katzenjammer, the owner of the shop next door, had taken a liking to Manny, and persuaded Bernard through hitting and shouting at him, that Manny was perfect for the job. Manny was re-hired, and was also allowed to move into Bernard's house located behind the shop. Bernard, however, took an instant disliking towards Manny and is often cruel towards him.

Resignation and life in Goliath Books[]

Despite running away numerous times, Manny decided to leave Black Books for good and to work in the new bookshop next door, Goliath Books. After Manny's departure, Bernard's health quickly deteriorated and his shop became wrecked and more messy than ever. Manny, meawhile, felt at home in his new job, until his new boss, Evan, tried to take what is most precious to him, his appearance.

Manny decided to return to Black Books rather than obey his cruel boss, only to find the shop in the worst state it was ever been in, overflowing with books and filled with hermit crabs and dead badgers. Bernard, delighted to see Manny, defended him when Evan comes looking for him, and agreed that his attitude towards Manny needed to change. However, once he has rehired Manny, Bernard quickly returns to insulting and abusing him.

Personality and traits[]


Manny is a loyal, obedient and friendly assistant who is always trying to help those in need of it. Manny is not as intelligent as Bernard or Fran, sometimes mistaking wine worth £7000 with wine bought from Londis, however, he has a talent for selling books. On one occasion Bernard left the shop, and Manny sold so many books that there are few left in the shop, much to Bernard's annoyance. Manny's presence is vital to both the shop and Bernard's welfare, and once Manny leaves to work in the bookshop next door, Goliath Books, the shop becomes a wreck filled with dead badgers and hermit crabs, and Bernard becomes distraught and extremely unhygenic. Manny is constantly trying to make improvements to the shop in which he lives, and once renovated the entire shop after getting an idea from another bookshop.


"It's rubbish! Attention-seeking rubbish!"
—Bernard Black on Manny's supposed illnesses

Despite being resonably healthy and maintaining a high personal hygiene level, Manny suffers from many illnesses and ailments. He is asthmetic, and is usually seen puffing on an inhaler when under pressure. Manny also suffers from a condition known as Dave's syndrome, which causes him to go insane when his exterior body temperature reaches 88 degrees fahrenheit. Manny claims that he must eat fudge regularly to stop him from going deaf, and that he must never be put in a van.


Bernard: "Why didn't you just say you were gay."
Manny: "But I'm not"
Bernard: "But you're interested in lamps."
Manny: "Yeah, but I'm interested in women... and lamps."
— Manny denying the theory that he is homosexual

Despite being questioned by Bernard, Manny confirmed that he was heterosexual and that he was just interested in lamps. Despite not having attempted as many relationships as Bernard or Fran, Manny has been more successful in love, meeting a girl called Rowena at a party that could have lead to a sucessful relationship, much to Bernard's envy.

Skills and abilities[]

  • Musician: Manny is an extremely talented musician, capable of playing classical and jazz music by ear without any previous lessons. He is also capable at playing the guaitar, and occasionally plays it while at work [9].
  • Artist: Manny is also an incredibly impressive artist, and illustrated the book The Elephant and the Balloon, which Bernard wrote. Amazingly, he was capable of sketching a coloured picture of two children building sandcastles by the seaside in a matter of seconds using only a standard HB pencil [10].
  • Accountant: Despite hating his accounting days, Manny is a very professional and well-informed accountant, and was capable of helping Bernard with his accounts when Bernard's previous accountant, Nick Voleur, went on the run from the police [11].
  • Salesman: Manny is very helpful and informative when it comes to selling merchandise, and is capable of selling hundreds of books in a single day. He is also very persuasive, and is quite capable of selling just about anything.
  • Cook: Manny appears to be a very good chef as he frequently makes meals for Bernad and Fran, even following Bernad’s bizarre food orders. Manny’s cooking defies physics as he makes a “tower” of soup with burned hands before it was destroyed by Bernad.


Bernard Black[]

Bernard and Manny have a very difficult relationship together. Bernard often bullies and insults Manny and calls him
Bernard Manny Curtain

Manny and Bernard

names including Gandalf, Ming the Merciless, Thor, Hawkwind, Bigfoot, "half Fu-Manchu, half Iago", Genghis Khan, "Customer-Lover" and Lord of the Rings, in reference to Manny's appearance and personality. Bernard has a particular hatred for Manny's beard, saying that the only thing that will bring him inner piece is a beard-seeking missile and once called Manny "a beard with an idiot hanging off it". Bernard revealed that his hatred of Manny's beard is due to the fact that he "kept finding it everywhere".

Despite their frequent arguments, Manny seems to care for Bernard's welfare, and usually rushes to help if Bernard is in despair. Bernard often orders Manny to do things, as bizarre as to "hoover the roof", "whistle down the chimmnies" and "de-louse the duvet". Despite his willingness to obey, Manny, after a therapy session, successfully stood up to Bernard, calling him a "silly, little man", and asked "isn't it sbout time you had a really good scrub".

Despite making it clear to Bernard that he is unhappy with the way he is treated, Manny always returns to Bernard if he runs away, to the point where he has to reapply for his original job on his own.

Fran Katzenjammer[]

"Manny was something else, you know."
—Fran Katzenjammer

Fran and Manny get on very well together. Fran sees Manny as a relief from Bernard, and the pair often gossip about celebrities and modern culture, a pastime they both enjoy. Fran was the person who secured Manny's position in Black Books, after he was fired by Bernard. Fran is always shocked and devastated when Manny runs away, and nearly always blames Bernard for this, and usually argues about Bernard's treatment towards him.

Despite making a clear protest to the abuse Manny gets from Bernard, Fran has been known to abuse Manny's willingness to help when she convinced him to hide in a piano and play from inside there, while she pretended to play from the exterior. However, Fran is usually very kind towards Manny and always stands up for him whenever he is insulted or humiliated.

Physical appearance[]

"He looks like a horse in a man costume."
—Bernard Black

Manny is has been described as small and is most famous for his hippy-like appearance. He grows shoulder-length brown hair on the back of his head and has a bearded face, described by Fran as a 'goatee thing', which is complete with moustache and sideburns. Manny's beard is mainly brown, however on some occasions, has a hint of grey in it. Manny's beard is often the butt of Bernad's jokes and insults. Bernard has said that the only thing that will bring him inner piece is a 'beard-seeking missile' and once called Manny 'a beard with an idiot hanging off it'. Bernard revealed that his hatred of Manny's beard is due to the fact that he 'kept finding it everywhere'.

Manny's usual dress consists of a hawaiian shirt or a t-shirt, with shorts and sandals, however he can be seen in a pinstripe suit (Bernard refers to it as "the one that gives [Manny] a big arse") or a brown leather jacket. Manny doesn't have much of a variety of clothes, changing from a hawaiian shirt which he called work clothes, to his casual clothes, an identical hawaiin shirt in a different colour.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Manny is played by comedian and musician Bill Bailey.
  • In an early draft of the show, Manny's role was much darker, revolving around his attempts to commit suicide.
  • Manny appeared in a gay Japanese magazine, called "大きくてひげづら", or in English, "Big and Beardy".
  • Manny is the only character whose name appears in the title of an episode of Black Books.


  • Manny is a variant of Emmanuel, which is a masculine given name of Hebrew origin. It translates to mean 'God is with us'. Manny was named so as the character was originally going to be Jewish.
  • Bianco comes from the seaside town of Bianco in Calabria, Italy, famous for wine producing. This is a reference to Bernard, Manny and Fran's love of wine. The word 'bianco' is also Italian for 'white,' which further illustrates Manny's differences from Bernard Black.
  • In an earlier draft of the show, Manny's surname was Zimmerman, a German name meaning 'carpenter'. This was a reference to Bob Dylan's original surname.

External Links[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 By Bernard Black
  2. By his friend Paul
  3. Name given to him by Evan
  4. By his parents
  5. While posing as a police man in The Blackout
  6. Whilst posing as an American tourist in A Little Flutter
  7. Manny Come Home
  8. Manny's parents' names are mentioned in a deleted scenes in Moo-Ma and Moo-Pa
  9. The Entertainer
  10. Elephants and Hens
  11. Cooking the Books