Thursday, September 24, 2015

Are You Being Served? Week: This is Your Department, Part Three

Leading the Men and Ladies departments at Grace Brothers was Mr. Rumbold, affectionately called "jug ears" behind his back by his very own staff. Mr. Rumbold spent most of his time behind his desk, so he often knew very little about what was happening on the sales floor. Often inserting himself into staff activities, Mr. Rumbold was quick to steal credit for any success. Seeing himself as a sage manager, he often provided advice based on his misunderstanding of many situations.

Nicholas Smith, who played the clueless Mr. Rumbold, was encouraged at an early age to pursue his dream of acting. He successfully earned roles on stage and various non-speaking roles on television. His big break came when he convinced the producers of Doctor Who to make his minor role on the show one season into a major one. This led to other fantasy/Sci-Fi type roles. His biggest role would be Cuthbert Rumbold, the hapless senior manager on AYBS? Mr. Smith continues to act and is the only main Castmember of the show still alive.

Essentially a miserly, dirty old man, Young Mr. Grace loosely ran his store, all the while chatting up his sexy assistants. It was easy to overlook these flaws, however, since he had an innocent look about him. Called "young" solely because he was younger than his brother, Mr. Grace constantly needed assistance from a staff of nurses and assistants who propped him up and escorted him around the store. A fond customer of strip clubs and burlesque shows, he rarely seemed to get any actual work done. Of course, as the owner, he didn't really need to.

A character who was as lecherous as Young Mr. Grace required a special actor. Luckily, Harold Bennett was that man. Mr. Bennett began his career as a clown traveling around the United States in a circus. After returning to England, he taught English at a London college. He served as a courier during World War I and returned to acting after the war ended. Eventually, he gave it all up to work as a draftsman for an Electric company. He returned to acting after his retirement, starring in several sitcoms. It was his role as Young Mr. Grace, however, that would give him his greatest fame. Mr. Bennett passed away in 1981.