John Inman (Mr. Humphreys) is Dead

by Harry on March 20, 2007

Guardian has an obituary here.

I can’t resist one comment. As a kid I didn’t care so much for Are You Being Served? Apart from Mr. Humphreys. When, later, I became aware that he was despised by some gay activists, I always guessed that his critics (mentioned in the obit) didn’t actually watch the show. What was portrayed on the screen was a genuinely decent and kind man with a (somewhat) naughty sense of humour, around whom idiocy prevailed. It was, at the time, the central portrayal of a poof on TV. But far from a negative one, and personally, if I can point to a single influence on my own positive attitudes to homsoexuality and homosexuals in my pre-teen and early teen years, it was probably Inman’s character. I’m sad to see him go.

For my current, much more positive, attitude to AYBS?, here.



A fan 03.20.07 at 9:06 pm

He’s free.


Chris Bertram 03.20.07 at 10:14 pm

Of course you developed a positive attitude to homosexuality Harry – the alternative was stroking Mrs Slocombe’s pussy.


Matt 03.20.07 at 11:19 pm

Very sad- this was one of my favorite shows when I was growing up, one of the British comedies shown on the local PBS station (the others being, at various times, Black Adder, Chef, and a show whose name I can’t remember about neighbors and their gardens and the like where one fellow often wore a mesh shirt, despite not being Italian- keeping up appearances or something?


P O'Neill 03.21.07 at 1:25 am

I used to think of him as the nicer version of that awful man from the Carry On films whose catchphrase was “Oooh nasty!”. So Inman was always going to look good against that benchmark.


harry b 03.21.07 at 2:46 am

#3 Keeping Up Appearances, yes. Much beloved in our house, for a variety of reasons.

#4 Leslie Phillips. But was he ever in a Carry On? DOn’t you really mean Charles Hawtrey? Or Kenneth Williams (though no-one but no-one, other than my mother, could think of either of them as awful).

Maybe I’m revealing too much about myself…


nick s 03.21.07 at 4:52 am

Phillips was in three early Carry Ons and the unfortunate Columbus. And Dick Emery remains in comedic limbo.

(Discovering Julian and Sandy in my twenties was fantabulosa.)


Katherine 03.21.07 at 10:12 am

“Neighbors and their gardens” could also be The Good Life.


dsquared 03.21.07 at 12:54 pm

I don’t know why, but “Are You Being Served” is universally the favourite television program of all three actual Fascists that I know.


harry b 03.21.07 at 1:24 pm

katherine — the mesh shirt was the giveaway.
nick s — I listened to them in my young childhood. And determinedly introduced them to my kids very young. What a joy.
dsquared — that’s rather charming, don’t you think? Better than if they liked, I don’t know, 24 thinking it was a sitcom. What do they make of It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum?


dsquared 03.21.07 at 4:00 pm

I don’t think they got that one in Spain.


Katherine 03.21.07 at 4:19 pm

Ah – mesh shirt = string vest, yes? Suddenly everything becomes clear…

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