The show is set in a bookstore in London that is run by and named for Bernard Black (Dylan Moran). Apart from Bernard, there is the former accountant turned shop assistant Manny (Bill Bailey) and Fran (Tamsin Greig). The life of the three is centred on the store that is not so much a business, but rather the place where Bernard can pursue his interests: drinking, smoking and reading books. All could be well if it was not for the store's patrons, the requirement to file tax returns with HM Revenue & Customs, countless incidents (such as having an alarm installed after being burgled), and Manny's and Fran's attempts to help.
Co-written and directed by Graham Linehan there is a generous helping of comic situation driven by a stereotypical drunken Irishman, a theme that is also present in Father Ted and The IT Crowd to which he also contributed as a writer. Guest stars include Kevin Eldon (Hyperdrive), Nina Conti, Nick Frost, Johnny Vegas (Benidorm, Ideal), Jessica Hynes (Spaced, Twenty Twelve) and Simon Pegg (Spaced) among others.