Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
The camp star of British TV
sitcom Are You Being Served? has died at the age of 71. John Inman played Mr
Humphries, whose "I'm free!" became a catchphrase. His role as a camp,
sharp-tongued sales assistant at the old-fashioned Grace Brothers department
store won him numerous plaudits including being voted "Funniest Man On
Television'" by British viewers.
But his limp-wristed character Mr Humphries - whose catchphrase was "I'm free!" - also provoked criticism from gay groups for its stereotypical portrayal of a theatrical homosexual. The sitcom may have come under attack for being crude and offensive, but the public loved it. One 1979 episode was watched by more than 22 million viewers in Britain.
Inman, 71, died in St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London, at 4am (1500 AEDT) today after being ill for some time, his manager Phil Dale said. "John, through his character Mr Humphries of Are You Being Served? was known and loved throughout the world," Dale said. "He was one of the best and finest pantomime dames working to capacity audiences throughout Britain. "John was known for his comedy plays and farces which were enjoyed from London's West End throughout the country and as far as Australia, Canada and the USA."
Wendy Richard, who played shopgirl Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served?, wept as she spoke about Inman. "John was one of the wittiest and most inventive actors I have ever worked with. He was a brilliant pantomime dame and an all-round brilliant actor," she told BBC radio. Inman starred in Are You Being Served? for its entire run, alongside Richard, who went on to play Pauline Fowler in EastEnders, as well as Molly Sugden, Frank Thornton and Trevor Bannister.
Seven years after the final episode, five of the characters returned for a sequel - Grace And Favour - in which the late "Young" Mr Grace has bequeathed all of his money to a charity for fallen women, and invested the staff's pension fund in an old house. They decide to move in and open it as a hotel. Mr Humphries still minced about declaring: "I'm free!", and there was as much double entendre and slapstick as before, although there were only two series, ending in 1993.
In 2004 Inman, who suffered from hepatitis A, cancelled the opening of a London pantomime because of the disease. In December 2005 he "married" his partner of 35 years, Ron Lynch, in a civil partnership ceremony at London's Westminster Register Office.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured never-before-seen views of Saturn from perspectives high above and below the planet's rings.