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October 10, 2015

Are You Being Served? star John Inman dead at 71

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 8th 2007 1:22PM

John InmanI have to admit that I've only seen a few minutes of Are You Being Served?, even though it seems to be on my local PBS station every other day. I don't know, I just never get into some British comedies. Sure, Monty Python and Fawlty Towers are shows I love, but some of the sitcoms I've never really given a chance beyond an episode or two.

But even I know who John Inman was. His face was unmistakable. Inman was one of the stars of the classic British comedy that was set in a department store. He played Mr. Humphries, whose catchphrase was "I'm free." Not sure of the context of that catchphrase, but Inman was voted both the "Funniest Man on Television" and BBC TV's "Personality of the Year" in 1976.

Inman died in London earlier today from complications of Hepatitis A.

[thanks to Jon for the tip]

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Sam Crisafulli

I still watch this show and think that John Inman was great in his part. He made me laugh, isn't that what it's all about?. Even though he was protrayed as a gay man, somehow that did not bother me, as the show never got polictical in that respect....it was done tastefully.....I will miss him and will be sorrowful when I see him agaim the next time I see the show....so long John, I hope you are in a better place now.....

April 06 2007 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree--it would have been nice if this piece had been written by someone who actually knew anything about--and had an appreciation for--John Inman! John Inman was to AYBS what Gene Simmons is to KISS. My ex (who is British) got me into the show. At first, I wasn't into it, but after a couple of viewings, it became one of my favorite shows of all time! No matter how many times I watch each episode, it's still funny to me.

The BBC initially did not want to release the show to American audiences because they thought that the humor of the show wouldn't appeal to Americans. Clearly, they were wrong! A friend in college said about John Inman in AYBS, "That guy IS the show!"

As for the catchphrase, the show took place in Grace Brothers departnemt store, so whenever Captain Peacock--the floor manager--would ask "Mr. Humphries, are you free?" he would always answer in a melodic voice, "I'm free!"

To Paul in #1, I used to answer my phone the same way after I started watching the show. When my phone rang, I would answer by saying in a baritone voice "menswear." Naturally, people thought I was weird, but I had a good laugh out of it.

The constant questioning of whether or not he was gay was a good running gag on the show, although the producers explained that he wasn't gay, just a mother's boy and a sissy. The double entendres on the show and the chemistry of the characters were funnier than many American sitcoms.

I hope you're in Heaven, Mr. Inman. May you rest in peace!

March 25 2007 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
matt payne

sorry to hear of his passing, i tried to contact him several times, we grew up on the same street in blackpool. he will be missed.

March 09 2007 at 1:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

*is crushed*

March 09 2007 at 1:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The world has lost a great comedic talent in John Inman. Are You Being Served is, and always will be my number 1 favorite British Sitcom. You're Free Now Mr. Inman, rest in peace, you've done very well.

March 09 2007 at 12:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony W Nodine

This is a very sad loss. John Inman was a sweet man I met only once. His legacy will live in anolog and digital. His fans owe the world a reminder very often of his contribution.

With love and deep respect,

March 08 2007 at 10:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Damn thats sad! He was the best on the show, and I always enjoyed him. He always seemed game for anything that went on.

March 08 2007 at 8:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You know what would have been nice? If someone who knew anything about this show had written this piece. More than half the text was about the author, not the extremely talented gentleman who passed away. That's just wrong on every conceivable level.

For my part, I plan to start an AYBS marathon just as soon as I finish up this Black Adder marathon in which I am currently embroiled. To my mind, nothing says "Thank you" like watching and appreciating an actor's work. I plan to let him make me laugh again. And maybe pour a little tea on the ground for my homey.

March 08 2007 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's so sad. I loved Are You Being Served? and I hope he's in a better place.

March 08 2007 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's too bad. When I saw the caption I thought "I hope it wasn't my favorite character on the show". It was. Well, he was great. Now you're truly free Mr. Inman. Rest in Peace, sir.

March 08 2007 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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