‘Served’ part two

Published 10:10 am Monday, March 5, 2012

Sometimes when you write columns it is easy to wonder if anyone else on the planet cares even a little about the subject you choose.

I have often been the television analyst here at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, writing about shows both past and present and discussing the good and bad points of each.

Recently, I penned a column about the British comedy “Are You Being Served?” one I think stands up even today as one of the greatest sitcoms in television history.  In it I talked about the fact that many of the stars of the show were now deceased and that it didn’t seem possible for them to be gone because the show is still so fresh in my mind.

I received a telephone call and a personal visit about the column, both of which I appreciated greatly. In response to those, this column will address some of the other key performers in the show that I didn’t cover in the original column.

One of the characters on the show that was never among my favorites, but apparently was to many was that of Burt Spooner. For those familiar with the show he replaced Trevor Bannister when the latter left to pursue a stage show.

The part was played by Mike Berry, who had a singing career and was also known for his acting ability. Berry is one of the few cast members who is not only alive, but continues to work. Those interested in learning more can do so at mikeberry.net.

On the other side of the coin is Arthur English, who played Mr. Harmon on “Are You Being Served?” He was perhaps my favorite character to ever serve on the cast. For nine years he played the funny and often sneaky maintenance worker for the store.

English, who was a popular actor in England, passed away from emphysema in 1995.

The man English replaced, Larry Martyn, played the often aggravating (in my opinion) Mr. Mash. While his character could be fun, he was often the most annoying character in my opinion. While I didn’t care for the character, I thought Martyn was brilliant in the role. He died at his home in 1994.

Alfie Bass played one of the replacements for Mr. Grainger on the show. His character was Mr. Goldberg and he remained in place on the show for just one season. As with most of the cast, Bass has since passed away. He died of a heart attack in 1987.

Mr. Goldberg’s immediate predecessor in the role of senior male sales assistant was Mr. Tebbs who was played by James Hayter. Probably the better of the two characters, Tebbs was also only on the show for one season. Hayter died in March of 1983.

There were two people who played the owner of the store during the show. The first was Young Mr. Grace, who was played by Harold Bennett. His character was hysterical and often made the shows he appeared in. Bennett was a funny man who died of a heart attack in 1981.

After Bennett’s death, the role went to Kenneth Waller. Waller played Old Mr. Grace and appeared for only one season. Waller passed away in 2000.

That’s most of the rest of the important members of the cast and I hope those who, like me, enjoyed “Are You Being Served?” got the information they were hoping for in this wrap up.


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.