Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Are You Being Served? Week: This is Your Department- Part Two

Mr. Grainger was the head of the gentlemen's department and a natural enemy of Mrs. Slocombe. Having served at Grace Brothers for many years, he is often disappointed at the lack of respect he is shown around the store. Fussy, old fashioned and strict, he often suffers as the butt of Mr. Lucas' jokes. Despite his demeanor, Mr. Grainger is known to surprise us all, like when he admitted to getting a young lady in trouble with the "pudding club." Mr. Lucas was completely shocked.

Mr. Grainger was brought to life by the veteran actor Arthur Brough. Unlike his character at Grace Brothers, Mr. Brough enjoyed working with children and originally sought out a teaching position. When none materialized, he began training to become a lawyer, but found such work dull and uninteresting. He soon found himself acting, setting up his own repertory called The Arthur Brough Players. After serving in the British Navy during World War II, Mr. Brough returned to acting, but sensed that the future was in television. Mr. Brough's turn as Mr. Grainger made him a household name, though the death of his beloved wife convinced him to retire from the show he loved. He passed away not long after in 1978.

If Mrs. Slocombe's cat was the biggest target of double entendres on the show, then truly Mr. Humphries would be the second biggest. A "campy" mother's boy whose sexuality remained a running joke, Mr. Humphries was the best loved of the show's cast, both on and off screen. When a cruel election is held to determine who would get sacked, he was the only person who didn't get a vote against him. As Mr. Rumbold noted, nobody wanted to see the back of Mr. Humphries, a development that Humphries wasn't sure he was comfortable with. Always ready to inject his creativity into any project that might need it, Mr. Humphries was a bright spot in the lackluster Grace Brothers.

It's hard to see anyone else but John Inman playing the role of Mr. Humphries. As camp as his character, Mr. Inman always knew he wanted to be an actor and was encouraged to do so by his parents. During his lean early years, Mr. Inman actually worked in department stores, including Austin Reed, which was jokingly referred to as a business that wanted to hire Mr. Humphries away. Establishing himself in the British tradition of pantomime, he didn't start out in television until a few years before AYBS?. Originally, the BBC rejected the character of Mr. Humphries, not wanting such a "camp" character on the show. The show creators appeared to follow this instruction, but quietly asked John to "camp it up", assuming that it would all work on screen. It did and Mr. Inman became a true legend. He remained busy in live theater and Panto shows in his later years, before passing away in 2007.

Mr. Lucas was meant to be our view into the world of Grace Brothers. At the beginning of the series, he's the new guy who gets to point out the ridiculousness and rigidity of Grace Brothers. Sex-obsessed and somewhat lazy, Mr. Lucas often cracked jokes at his fellow employees' expense. Nobody was mocked more than Mrs. Slocombe, who often objected to his wisecracks. Although his departure is never mentioned on the show, Captain Peacock insinuates that he was fired.

Trevor Bannister brought Mr. Lucas to life. Mr. Bannister, like many of his fellow AYBS? cast members, got his start in live productions. He was already a well-known quantity in Britain when he was cast as the smart-alecky Mr. Lucas, a role that was supposed to be the center of the show. The richness of the cast meant that the show became more of an ensemble production than a starring vehicle for him. Due to the erratic filming schedule, the BBC worked around Trevor's schedule, allowing him to take various acting jobs. For some reason, the BBC became stricter with scheduling after series 7 and refused to cater to Mr. Bannister's outside career. He chose to leave the show. He continued to work right up until he passed away in 2011.