Mar 12, 2007

"Mr. Humphries, Are You Free?"

I was never a massive "Are You Being Served?" fan, but I did enjoy the show a great deal, and have watched many, many episodes in the past. I always got such a huge kick out of Mr. Humphries, as played by John Inman, and his inimitable swanning about, and of course the inevitable double-entendres. Sad to say, he's counted down his till and ended his shift.

THIS WEEK'S HONORARY UNSUBSCRIBE goes to John Inman. An actor, Inman was best known as "Mr. Humphries" on the Brit sitcom "Are You Being Served?" (1972-1985), set in a London department store. Originally, Humphries was a side character in a cheap suit who only had five lines of dialogue in the pilot episode. But producer David Croft asked Inman to "camp it up" -- and Inman pushed it to the hilt, calling out "I'm free!" and mincing over when a customer stopped in. Gay rights groups protested the stereotypical swishiness, but the character was well loved by the public, including in the U.S. where it ran on PBS. The show was thrust to the top of the British charts and ran for 13 years. Comedy seemed to be in Inman's blood: his first job was as a window dresser at, yes, a London department store. During his off times, he'd stand still in the window himself with a sign around his neck reading: "Available in Other Colours". In 1976 he won the BBC's Personality of the Year and TV Times's Funniest Man On Television award. In recent years Inman suffered chronic ill health, including hepatitis. He died March 8 at 71.


Stucco said...

I really enjoyed "Are You Being Served, Again" where they were all in the English country somewere in charge of a bed and breakfast. That was a great ensemble of characters, and I am unanimous in that. Sorry to hear of Inman's fate, but he made a great impression.

Nancy Dancehall said...

Aw. I always liked both series too. Are You Being Served? was late night comfort tv. Inman made the show.

Irrelephant said...

I don't remember all of them, it's been years since I've watched the episodes but I do recall how comfortable they were, how easy to enjoy, and yes, Inman was the best.