12 March 2007

Vale John Inman

The world of British sit-coms was rocked this week with the passing of John Inman, best known as Mr Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries from the immortal Are you being served?

Are you being served? was a creation of David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd, themselves responsible for a number of British sit-coms which were all very much in the tradition of the Carry On movies. This genre of British sit-coms derived most of their laughs from the heavy use of double entendre and slapstick.

Are you being served? ran for 10 seasons, starting with the pilot in 1972 and ending in 1985.

Croft and Lloyd would repeat the success of Are you being served? with the brutally funny 'Allo 'allo and reunite the cast of Are you being served? in the early nineties for two seasons with Grace & favour.

With possible competition from Mollie Sugden's character, Mrs Slocombe, Mr Humphries was far and away the most popular character on the show.

Mr Humphries was an effete little man with all the obvious gay wisecracks, but was never on the receiving end of the jokes. Most of the best jokes that Mr Humphries was in had Mr Lucas and Mr Grainger on the receiving end, and sometimes Captain Peacock as well.

Funnily enough, both Inman and Lloyd have said that Humphries was never meant to be gay, just a mother's boy. Mr Humphries sexual orientation was never explicitly stated, although all the jokes were clearly meant to imply that he was gay.

His most famous catchphrase, "I'm free," uttered in full falsetto, is still occasionally wheeled out by shop-staff everywhere to smirks and tittering.

This sort of humour was killed off long ago by the politically-correct thought police.

Inman outlived them, though. He gets the last laugh. RIP.


beepbeepitsme said...

I never knew his full name was Mr Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries. lol

I used to watch the show though. RIP Mr Humpries.

Anonymous said...

A great character and a great show.


Dikkii said...

Yep, great name. great character and a great show.

Anonymous said...

Mr Inman was a true performer in theatre and TV and someone who really knew how to make people smile. A further tribute to the great man can be found here. RIP John

Dikkii said...

You're quite right, MW.

And it appears that he was a veteran of the British pantomime scene, too.

I'd say that he played the Widow Twankey or the Fairy Godmother on more than just a few occasions.