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28 October 2014

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Are You Being Served?

The cast of Are You Being Served?

With its innuendo-laden comedy, penchant for slapstick and panto-type characters, Are You Being Served? had something for everyone and became a juggernaut of 1970s television.

Miss Brahms and Mrs Slocombe

While appearing in It's Awfully Bad For Your Eyes, Darling, writer and performer Jeremy Lloyd met comedy producer David Croft and touting for work, mentioned his idea for a new sitcom based upon his experience in the 1950s working in department store Simpson of Piccadilly.

Recognising the idea's potential, Croft insisted he be brought in as co-writer and a pilot edition was created for Comedy Playhouse in 1972. This lead to a full run, kicking off the following year.

Set in the antiquated Grace Brothers department store, the show followed the OTT antics of its staff.

Captain Peacock and Mrs Slocombe

Leading the troops was the dowdy Captain Peacock (Frank Thornton), a city gent with a penchant for pomposity.

Head of ladies fashion, Mrs Slocombe (Mollie Sugden) sported a different hair colour every week and continually harped on about her "pussy", while assistant, Miss Brahms (Wendy Richard) was the literal butt of a slew of bottom-pinching antics.

Meanwhile fussing manager Mr Rumbold (Nicholas Smith) watched on in bemusement.

The stand out character, however, was Mr Humphries (John Inman), a camp, senior assistant in the menswear department, who became infamous for trilling his catchphrase, "I'm free!". 

John Inman in Are You Being Served?

Although clearly a laboured parody of an effeminate gay man, both Inman and Croft were resolute he was just 'a mummy's boy'.

Although the show was often criticised for its bawdy content, it was a family favourite, often attracting audiences of over 20 million.

When it finally came to an end in 1985, it did feel a little past its best, but that didn't stop Croft and Perry returning to the format for a 1992 spin-off series: Grace and Favour.


Frank Thornton
Captain Peacock
John Inman
Mr Humphries
Mollie Sugden
Mrs Slocombe
Wendy Richard
Miss Brahms
Nicholas Smith
Mr Cuthbert Rumbold
Harold Bennett
Young Mr Grace
Trevor Bannister
Mr Lucas
Arthur Brough
Mr Grainger
Arthur English
Mr Harmen
Larry Martyn
Mr Mash
Mike Berry
Mr Spooner
Kenneth Waller
Old Mr Grace
Penny Irving
Miss Bakewell (secretary)
Vivienne Johnson


Jeremy Lloyd
David Croft
Michael Knowles
John Chapman
Ray Butt
Harold Snoad
Bob Spiers
John Kilby
Gordon Elsbury
Martin Shardlow
David Croft
Martin Shardlow
Bob Spiers
Harold Snoad

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