Black Books Wiki
The Entertainer
Episode information
Episode No.




Original airdate

Friday, March 1, 2002

Cast and crew information
  • Dylan Moran
  • Martin Dennis
  • Karen Beever
  • William Burdett-Coutts
  • Nira Park
Main cast
  • Dylan Moran
  • Bill Bailey
  • Tamsin Greig
Guest stars
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The Entertainer is the first episode of the second series of the British sitcom, Black Books. The episode was originally aired on March the 1st, 2002. The script was originally written by Dylan Moran and was directed by Martin Dennis.

Plot synopsis[]

Fran Katzenjammer (Tamsin Greig) buys a piano in the hope of being able to play, and places it in Black Books, the shop run by Bernard Black (Dylan Moran), much to Bernard's annoyance as he has a hangover. Manny Bianco (Bill Bailey) enters and warns Bernard not to sell the last copy of Blue Sands, as it has been reserved for Mr. Williams, a very aggresive and violent customer. Kate (Nina Conti) enters the shop in order to buy Blue Sands. Bernard, who is immediately attracted to her, immediately gives the book away without asking for her to pay. A surprised Kate leaves the shop, only for Mr. Williams to enter. Bernard rushes up to him and lies that Manny had sold the last copy, much to Williams' annoyance.

Later that day, Fran is failing to impress Josef Slavanski (David McKall), a blind, Russian piano teacher who has a habit of whipping people with his cane when they miss a note. An unhappy Fran continues to play a disasterous rendition of 'Three Blind Mice', much to Josef's annoyance. Meanwhile, Bernard and Manny meet at a cafe. An annoyed Manny shows Bernard his black eye, given to him by Mr. Williams, and insists on him having the weekend off. Bernard interupts him when he spots Kate on the other side of the restraunt. Manny bets him that if Kate goes out with him, then Manny can have the weekend off. Bernard agrees to the bet, and to his surprise, Kate agrees to go out with him.

Meanwhile back at the shop, Fran is struggling to perform to Josef's high standards, and at the end of the lesson, Josef insists on her practicing all evening. Bernard and Manny return to find Fran sulking. However, once Bernard goes out to the pub, Fran quickly follows. Manny turns on the radio and hears classical music playing. He sits down and after playing a few notes, begins to play what is playing on the radio with incredible accuracy. An amazed Manny tunes the radio to a jazz song, which he copies perfectly, improvising by playing some of the notes with his foot.

The next day, Manny finds Fran and Bernard, moaning and wearing sunglasses, as they are hungover. Manny shows them his piano skills, however, Josef enters while he is playing, thinking it is Fran. Fran sits beside Manny and tells Josef that she had been practicing yesterday, like he had said. An amazed Josef asks for her to play Bach, however, she lies that she is not ready for Bach yet, but he insists on coming around the next day to hear her play.

Throughout the day, Bernard coaches Manny and hits him with a fly swat whenever he disobeys. When Bernard orders Manny to make tea, Kate enters the shop. Seeing Bernard beside the piano makes her think that he can play and asks for him to play a song. Bernard runs into Manny and persuades him to get inside the piano and play the notes from there while he pretends to play from the exterior. After witnessing Bernard's apparant talents, Kate insists on taking him out for a drink. An exhausted Manny clampers out from inside the piano and decides to go to the pub and get drunk.

The next day, Manny is suffering from a severe hangover, and refuses to oblige when Fran asks him to play in front of Josef again. Fran decides to tell Josef the truth, however, when he arrives with his whole family, she cannot muster the courage to confess and is forced to persuade Manny to climb back into the piano and hoodwink Josef again. Only to make things worse, Kate enters the shop, and insists on Bernard and Fran dueting together. Despite a seemingly impossible task, Manny is able to play in such a way that it sounds like a duet. However, he is extremely tired, and secretly climbs out of the piano and leaves the shop. Fran and Bernard, still thinking that Manny is inside the piano, get cocky and claim to be able to play a song called 'Flight of the Seven Million Bumble Bees', only to discover that Manny has left and they have been discovered as cheats and liars. The episode ends with an upset Fran signing a contract to have the piano taken away.

Cultural references[]

  • Grieg's 'Piano Concerto in A Minor', Beethoven's 'Rage Over a Lost Penny', Bach's 'Prelude & Fugue No. 21 : Prelude', and 'Three Blind Mice' are all heard in the episode.

Behind the scenes[]

  • All music in the episode, including the songs on the radio, was played by Bill Bailey.
  • The Entertainer is a popular ragtime piece of piano music composed by Scott Joplin, made famous as the theme to the film The Sting.

External links[]

[1] The Entertainer on IMDb

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

[2] The Entertainer on