Only last week I was flicking through my records and I stumbled across a novelty record I’d picked up in a charity shop. The record was the preposterous Are You Being Served Sir? by John Inman in his Mr Humphries guise. I chuckled away as I heard him pun on the word ‘crack’ and felt sad that his character, gay as you like, was never officially allowed to come out for fear of upsetting Daily Mail readers.
Well, sad news reaches us that John Inman has passed away aged 71 years young and will never again pip “I’m free!”
Inman died in hospital early this morning at around 4am after being ill for some time. The Lancashire-born actor’s character in Are You Being Served? was menswear assistant Mr Humphries, who was famous for his high-camp and asides about Mrs Slocombe’s “pussy”. Over the years, critics were unhappy at the characters stereotyping of homosexual men, but let’s face it, Mr Humphries is one of the most fondly remembered characters ever to grace a TV set.
Are You Being Served? first aired in 1972, and followed the staff of a frumpy old department store called Grace Brothers and was adored by the public. At its peak, the show would attract 22 million viewers. Since the show’s demise, Inman was scarcely seen on our screens, which saw him camping it up some more in pantomimes in the UK and abroad. Inman’s long-term partner, Ron Lynch, was said to be devastated by his death. The couple, who had been together more than 33 years, entered into a civil partnership in 2005 at a ceremony in Westminster.
This morning, Mr Dale said: “John, through his character Mr Humphries of Are You Being Served? was known and loved throughout the world. He was one of the best and finest pantomime dames working to capacity audiences throughout Britain. John was known for his comedy plays and farces which were enjoyed from London’s West End throughout the country and as far as Australia, Canada and the USA.”