When John Inman (Mr. Humphries, Are You Being Served?) passed away on March 8, 2007, all the years past, present and future of smiles and laughter did not end. John was, and will continue to be, a very good friend to public television viewers nationwide through his comedic talents on screen. Many of us will remember his tireless willingness to work on behalf of PBS stations during membership campaigns and “be Mr. Humphries” for an evening of “meet & greets”.
From a personal standpoint, my fondest memory has to be when John came to Dallas for an event for KERA in the mid-nineties. Riding up the elevator in the hotel to the planned evening event, John sang the entire AYBS theme song as the elevator passed each floor. It was definitely one of those Kodak moments you always hear about.
I first had the opportunity to work with John when he hosted Mollie Sugden’s 80th birthday special we produced for PBS called, Celebrating Mollie Sugden: An Are You Being Served Special. What I remember most about the shoot at the Gore Hotel in London was that it was June. A very hot June. Since the show was to air on PBS in December of that year, we had John do all of the host segments in front of a roaring fire at the Gore. Never saying a word throughout the entire day about how hot it must have been for him, I believe he may have lost 10-15 pounds that day alone. And, as the quintessential English gentleman, never took off his jacket until the taping was completed.
Several years later, 2003 to be exact, John participated in our next special for PBS, The Funny Ladies of British Comedy, offering some amazing insights on his years of working with both Mollie Sugden and Wendy Richard taped at Mollie’s house in Surrey, England. At the same time, we were fortunate to have John share a few more insights about years of working with Frank Thornton and Trevor Bannister on Are You Being Served? for our next special in 2004, The Funny Blokes of British Comedy.
I’ll never forget spending the day with John, Mollie and Wendy, watching good friends reminisce about the days of working together on Are You Being Served and Are You Being Served, Again. Even today, for me, that day adds a little extra to the laughter that all three continue to leave us with each week through their wonderful talent to make viewers smile.