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LONDON (Reuters) - Actor John Inman, best known for his role as camp shop assistant Mr Humphries in the long-running BBC comedy "Are You Being Served?" died aged 71 on Thursday.
Inman, who later became a pantomime regular, was one of the sitcom's most memorable cast members and his catchphrase "I'm free" became part of popular culture.
In 1976, he was voted "Funniest Man On Television" by readers of TV Times magazine and was also named BBC TV's "Personality Of The Year".
He died at St Mary's Hospital in London after having been ill for some time, his manager Phil Dale said in a statement.
"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."
Inman's long-term partner Ron Lynch was "devastated" at the news, the BBC said.
Actress Wendy Richard, who played Miss Brahms in "Are You Being Served?", said she had been regularly visiting Inman who had been seriously ill with Hepatitis A.
"You just have to regard it as being an end to his suffering," a tearful Richard told BBC radio.
"I think John was one of the wittiest and most inventive actors I have ever worked with. He was a brilliant, brilliant pantomime dame. He was a very good all round actor really."
Inman's character Mr Humphries attracted criticism at the height of the department store-based sitcom's success from some gay rights groups who were upset by what they saw as his portrayal of an over-the-top homosexual.
"He never ever said Mr Humphries was gay," Richard said. "He was just a young man who was very, very good to his mother."
I met him too back in the mid 70's - a great character, as you say very camp but so witty and pleasant.
It is even more sad to know that he had been ill for some time, since 2004 in fact, after contracting Hepatitis A. This was thought to be caused by eating contaminated food which brought about an infectious inflammation of the liver.
Reading this, click here , it is surprising that he didn't recover from it, as is usually the case. Could be there were other underlying factors that totally hindered a recovery.
John Inman was a total man of comedy who gave much pleasure to millions not only in this country but to many more across the seas. His passing has left a void in British comedy and he will be missed by many. I'm sure though, that true to form he will have had St Peter in stitches as he passed through those Pearly Gates! Of that there is no doubt. :o)) TC.
Unfortunately another one of those great performers who made us laugh, and still does. Thank you John.
I never found him funny at all. People camping and limping it up do not really appeal to me......................................................however some years ago I was invited to a summer fête. It was being run by a group of houses in the Cotswolds for adults with Aspergers' and serious personality problems. The 'star' who was supposed to open it could not make it and only gave 24 hours notice of cancellation. One of the committee members was a fan of John Inman and, Gawd knows how, managed to contact him late on Friday evening. JI agreed to open the fête but could only spend an hour there as he had other commitments. John arrived on time to the second after a long journey and opened the fête. He really played the crowd and had time for every person and when he was reminded that his hour was up he shouted 'I'm free.....for the afternoon' which had all the guests in spasms of mirth and proceeded to spend another 3 hours there. He did not stop talking and working the crowd for all that time and refused any contribution to his expenses and IIRC, donated quite a large sum of loot and some signed bits for an auction.
For that one deed alone he has my respect.
of people infected with hepatitis A go on to develop fulminant hepatic failure. If that is indeed what he died of he was a very unlucky man.
GANDALF <|:-)> that is a very nice story.
It is heart warming that he made some time with you.
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