Gone, not forgotten

Published 11:10 am Monday, January 23, 2012

From the time I was small I remember watching the British comedy “Are You Being Served?”

It has long-since been one of my favorite shows and I own quite a few of them on DVD and probably will collect the rest at some point.

Recently I was perusing information on the International Movie Database. It’s a site I go to from time to time to read about old shows or old characters and see if there is any information on them.

I was reading the information about “Are You Being Served?” and it soon became clear that most of the cast members were now deceased. It was a sad moment for me when I realized some of the greatest actors from my childhood where gone.

John Inman I knew died from hepatitis A in 2007 after falling ill. He was the funniest person on the show in his role as Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries.

Also gone is Molly Sugden who played Mrs. Slocum, the head of the ladies department and whose hair changed color just about every episode. Sugden was often compared Lucille Ball in the way she embraced physical comedy.

Wendy Richard, who was probably better known for her role in EastEnders, played Shirley Brahms on the show and was a beauty in her years. She was also an amazing actress. She died in 2009.

The one that probably shocked me the most was the death of Trevor Bannister, who played Mr. Lucas during the early years of the show. Try as they may, the BBC never recovered from his leaving to take part in a play. He passed away in April of last year.

Two of the cast members died during the run of the show. Arthur Brough (Earnest Grainger) died in 1978, a year after his retirement from the series, and Harold Bennett died in 1981 while still a cast member.

Arthur English, who played Beverly Harman on the show, died in 1975. He was one of the most loved comedians in Britain and certainly made “Are You Being Served?” better.

Two of the men who were on the show, however, are still around.

Frank Thornton, who played Captain Peacock, went on to spend more than a dozen years in Last of the Summer Wine. He was one of my favorites on the show and I even watched some of Summer Wine because he was in it.

Also still kicking is Nicholas Smith, who played Cuthbert Rumbold in the show. He also spent time on Summer Wine and I think was the foil that made “Are You Being Served?” better.

I think sometimes we don’t realize the years have slipped by us and looking through the death dates of the people in the show that I remember from my childhood reminded me.

Time moves quickly and sometimes we forget that we are all marching along with it. Regardless of the fact most of the stars from one of my favorite shows are gone, I will still treasure their work and remember their influence on my childhood fondly.


Thadd White is Managing Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or by telephone at 332-7211.