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Mr. Humphries has measured his last inside leg.
March 8, 2007 6:58 AM   Subscribe

John Inman, RIP --better known as the campy stereotype Mr. Humphries on Are You Being Served? (a gay icon?)
posted by amberglow (93 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
from the BBC page on the show: ...Most memorable of the main characters was Mr Humphries, senior sales assistant in the menswear department, a camp and effete man, sharp-tongued and as light as a fairy on his feet. John Inman's portrayal of the limp-wristed, pouting Humphries drew as much criticism as it did plaudits. In 1976 he was voted 'Funniest Man On Television' by TVTimes readers and was declared BBC TV's Personality Of The Year, but at the same time he was under attack from gay groups offended by his stereotypical portrayal of a theatrical homosexual. (Rather limply, Inman always denied that the character was homosexual.) In hindsight, some of Humphries' detractors, revisiting the character, grudgingly admit that they find him funny, but others still see the portrayal as indefensible, especially because, in its time, there were so few positive images of homosexuals to redress the balance. ...
posted by amberglow at 7:00 AM on March 8, 2007


That is very, very sad news. RIP indeed.
posted by owhydididoit at 7:03 AM on March 8, 2007


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but others still see the portrayal as indefensible, especially because, in its time, there were so few positive images of homosexuals to redress the balance

Humphries was the smartest, character on the show. And his was the character with the most class, in a show that was predominately about class.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:05 AM on March 8, 2007


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posted by BoringPostcards at 7:06 AM on March 8, 2007


"better known" == there are people who watch that show? I always assumed it was one of those things that PBS got for cheap from the UK because it sucked but played here because "it's from the UK" is popular on PBS.
posted by DU at 7:06 AM on March 8, 2007


UK because it sucked but played here because "it's from the UK" is popular on PBS.
posted by DU at 10:06 AM EST on March 8


The show ran for a very long time in the UK, which is notorious for canceling sitcoms the moment the achieve any degree of popularity. I found the show amusing, as an American, because it seemed to me to be addressing a rift in british society between older and younger generations, the older which accepted without question the class hierarchy and the obsequiousness in often required of the lower classes, and t he younger generation that was eager to cast the hierarchy aside but still had to work within it to earn a living. But it's possible I read it entirely wrong.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:13 AM on March 8, 2007


wait, Mr Humphries was gay?
posted by empath at 7:14 AM on March 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Are you being served" was huge here in the UK when I was growing up.
posted by handee at 7:16 AM on March 8, 2007


"Mr. Humphries, are you free?"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:16 AM on March 8, 2007


He will be missed. He was a brilliant actor.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:16 AM on March 8, 2007


Free at last.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:17 AM on March 8, 2007


Oh, man....I LOVED this show growing up. Yeah, free at last, indeed.
posted by Windigo at 7:17 AM on March 8, 2007


that show was the bullocks.

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posted by phaedon at 7:24 AM on March 8, 2007


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posted by sudasana at 7:25 AM on March 8, 2007


a rift in british society between older and younger generations, the older which accepted without question the class hierarchy and the obsequiousness in often required of the lower classes, and t he younger generation that was eager to cast the hierarchy aside but still had to work within it to earn a living.

It made sense, i think, for Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocum to have rich inner lives and outrageous character stuff to make up for all their powerlessness and failure careerwise. (We see it differently here tho, i think.)
posted by amberglow at 7:26 AM on March 8, 2007


even TV Guide is covering it--it really must have been seen on every single public tv channel nationwide for decades.
posted by amberglow at 7:31 AM on March 8, 2007


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posted by Sk4n at 7:39 AM on March 8, 2007


DAFFYD: Okay, if you're so gay, who was the gay character on Are You Being Served?
ENTIRE PUB: Mr. Humphries!
DAFFYD: ...was it?!
ENTIRE PUB: Yes!
DAFFYD: Well, that's very subtle then. I always thought it was Captain Peacock. He's the one with the moustache.


(one of the only vaguely funny bits in Little Britain that don't involve Tom Baker's amusing voiceovers.)

It is alternatingly amusing and disconcerting to have PBS in America showing Are You Being Served? as an example of "classic British comedy", especially round Pledge Time. Oof.
posted by Spatch at 7:40 AM on March 8, 2007


Gone to join Mrs. Slocombe's pussy in sit-com heaven.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:43 AM on March 8, 2007


Spatch, people love it--that, and the Hyacinth Bucket thing too (thankfully they don't really show Benny Hill any more, which is good)
posted by amberglow at 7:48 AM on March 8, 2007


That's boo-kay...
posted by briank at 7:53 AM on March 8, 2007


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posted by falconred at 7:55 AM on March 8, 2007


"better known" == there are people who watch that show? I always assumed it was one of those things that PBS got for cheap from the UK because it sucked but played here because "it's from the UK" is popular on PBS.

DU, this is why maybe you should have gotten a back pack and trekked around the world a bit instead of going right into working hard and flying business class.
posted by spicynuts at 7:56 AM on March 8, 2007


I remember the show Yes Minister, which I also thought was hilarious.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:59 AM on March 8, 2007


I must have missed the deep significance of pantyhose jokes told to a laff track.
posted by DU at 8:03 AM on March 8, 2007


I do realize AYBS is a venerable sitcom and probably chosen because it's one of the more easily-accessible for American audiences. It was just funny to find music hall shenanigans being hailed as something a bit more highbrow than it ever could be.

Then again, I did catch a few episodes of Hi-De-Hi! on my local PBS station a couple of years ago, and while I wondered how many Americans knew the grand holiday camp tradition (the closest equivalent I can think of are Catskills resorts, as in Dirty Dancing) I realized it was easy to make connections with the characters and jokes on a general level, and that's what helps.
posted by Spatch at 8:04 AM on March 8, 2007


It was fun, DU--all one-liners, double entendres, and slapstick.
posted by amberglow at 8:05 AM on March 8, 2007


It was fun, DU--all one-liners, double entendres, and slapstick.

I can see that much. I'm just wondering how "[getting] a back pack and trekk[ing] around the world a bit instead of going right into working hard and flying business class" would have made me appreciate it more. I mean, it's basically Who's the Boss-level comedy....right?
posted by DU at 8:07 AM on March 8, 2007


yup--but not as schmaltzy and no messages or moral lessons or romance. It's more Sanford and Son maybe, i think.
posted by amberglow at 8:09 AM on March 8, 2007


Humphries was the smartest, character on the show. And his was the character with the most class, in a show that was predominately about class.

Exactly. Free at last.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:11 AM on March 8, 2007


[in deep voice] Menswear...

RIP John
posted by parmanparman at 8:11 AM on March 8, 2007


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posted by dnash at 8:11 AM on March 8, 2007


Hey, DU: get outta the pool and over to MeTa if you want to keep this up.
posted by boo_radley at 8:12 AM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes Minister is fantastic, but I can't imagine it works very well for non-British audiences. Was it popular in America?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 8:12 AM on March 8, 2007


One of the lovely things about being a gay man is you can unapologetically enjoy this sort of hysterical gay performance without any fear of offending yourself. In some sterile, academic analysis Mr. Humphries was the worst sort of Uncle Tom. But he's not at all really, he's a fabulous screaming queen. God bless camp, we need more faerie dust in the world.

I note that the Yahoo obit quotes the BBC as saying "Inman's long-term partner Ron Lynch was "devastated" at the news". I was somewhat surprised the actor himself is gay, although in retrospection I can't imagine it would have been any other way. Here's a picture of the happy couple at their wedding-equivalent. Apparently it took him a long time to come out.
posted by Nelson at 8:15 AM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Aloysius: My parents love that show. There's no question it's inaccessible though for a wider American audience.
posted by phaedon at 8:16 AM on March 8, 2007


I never watched it. Fawlty Towers was biggish and Monty Python of course. Now we have a ton of lame ones--As Time Goes By, and that deep-voiced woman in some family comedy, and an especially bad one about a superhero guy, his wife and baby, and weird American friend (and we have Coupling, of course).
posted by amberglow at 8:17 AM on March 8, 2007


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posted by gomichild at 8:18 AM on March 8, 2007


this one is just tragic: I Have Always Had a Girlfriend
posted by amberglow at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2007


Well, fuck.

I'm such a britcom whore it's not even funny. The thing I loved most about AYBS is that they weren't afraid, at all, to mock themselves. They knew the jokes were stupid, predictable and sophmoric, but they ran with it. It's not about the pussy jokes and the laugh track, it's the way the actors and characters took the cheesiness and reveled in it. You groaned during the leadup to any of the jokes, knew it was coming, but still laughed because it was so ridiculous.

The other thing that made it interesting to me was the thorough 70s-ness of it all. The racial/ethnic gags, the class warfare, the labor wars are all things I never experienced as a kid. It really emphasizes how different the world was thirty years ago.

And Mr. Humphries was AYBS.
posted by Skorgu at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2007


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John Inman's Mr Humphries made me wish I could grow up to be such a fabulous man.

In some sterile, academic analysis Mr. Humphries was the worst sort of Uncle Tom. But he's not at all really, he's a fabulous screaming queen.

Mr Humphries was just about the only fey male character I ever saw on TV when I was young (he wasn't really a gay character, it was never stated, but he certainly was fey), and that was in the late 80s, early 90s. Inman's character helped me be more comfortable with my own bisexuality. There were other queer icons about, but many of them tragic or overly serious. He was an intelligent, caring, witty and happy gay icon - he was a gay gay icon, who made it cool to be camp.

Actually, the character of Uncle Tom has been similarly maligned in the last century; the original character is an extremely moral, upright and above all powerful and strong man, and any person should feel honoured to be compared to Uncle Tom.
posted by jb at 8:43 AM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I must have missed the deep significance of pantyhose jokes told to a laff track.

BUT. THEY. HAD. BRITISH. ACCENTS!!!
posted by rxrfrx at 8:44 AM on March 8, 2007


The creators of AYBS denied right up until the the very end that Humphreys was actually gay. One of them was denying it anyway, you should see the documentary on AYBS... the creators discussed Inman & Humphreys, then right at the end one of them says, "But he wasn't actually gay, he was just a 'momma's boy,'" and the other one say, "Oh yeah, right."
posted by grytpype at 8:44 AM on March 8, 2007


It does sadden me that people are talking about him as having been "'married'" to his husband with quotes (in the article), or having a "wedding-equivalent" (comment above, though I know it was not meant badly). I said all along that civil unions in the UK would not bring equality for same-sex couples, and it seems it is true. We should talk about his husband (unless he would prefer to be termed "partner") and their wedding, which was a wedding - whether the small minded parliament recognises it as such or not.
posted by jb at 8:50 AM on March 8, 2007


jb, i find that "partner" or "life partner" (or "companion") is far far more common than "husband" or "wife" with that generation--it's like they can't even conceive of it like a regular marriage, unless it's as a joke.
posted by amberglow at 8:53 AM on March 8, 2007


Hmm.

Obviously sorry to hear that John Inman - as with anyone - has died, but the idea that Are You Being Served was anything but total dogshit defies belief.

He was better on Blankety Blank.
posted by catchmurray at 9:01 AM on March 8, 2007


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I spent a lot of time watching AYBS about ten years ago.
posted by mrbill at 9:04 AM on March 8, 2007


I remember this show from the 70`s, a time when British TV ruled the air waves of Holland.
posted by happybunny at 9:08 AM on March 8, 2007



BBC article said gay rights groups protested the show because he was too over-the-top. (?)

Compared to the sitcoms today- like Will & Grace- he was "tame".
posted by wfc123 at 9:08 AM on March 8, 2007


Yes Minister is fantastic, but I can't imagine it works very well for non-British audiences. Was it popular in America?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 11:12 AM EST on March 8


Sure, as popular as many others, though I was a political nerd at the time and loved all the backbiting and machiavellian politics of it all.

The thing I liked about all these shows is how the contrasted so sharply with the treacle that passed as american sitcoms in the 80's. Back then it was "who's the boss" and "family ties" drivel with moral messages 10- minutes before the end. You have to remember that back then, the Simpsons was revolutionary. The Simpsons seasons 1, which by today;'s standards is unwatchable.

To get an idea of what I'm talking about, watch the UK Coupling and compare it to Friends. Coupling is edgy and hysterical, Friends is safe. The guys on Friends are predictably dopey and oafish (the way all men are portrayed on US sitcoms) and the women stunningly attractive, cosmopolitan but paradoxically airheaded. Ugh.

UK sitcoms by and large (at least from what I've seen of what they've brought here) operate on a few more levels and are a bit more clever. Even "As Time Goes By" which is not my thing, plays well here with younger women and older couples, the latter being a demographic that is totally ignored by US television. It's romantic and funny, but not in a cartoonish "romantic comedy" sort of way.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:11 AM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


but Pasta, at the time AYBS was airing in the UK, our best sitcoms were brilliant and adult--Norman Lear stuff, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, etc.
posted by amberglow at 9:19 AM on March 8, 2007


Rest in peace ..... Inman was brilliant.
posted by blucevalo at 9:26 AM on March 8, 2007


jb, I chose the term "wedding-equivalent" carefully because, as I understand British law, they did not have a wedding. I choose to use alternative terms to emphasize the inequality of the law. Calling his partner a "husband" or "wedding" makes it too easy for people to forget that in most parts of the world, men still don't have the right to have husbands.

I think it's fantastic that the obituary mentioned his partner. For so many years gay people's partners were unmentioned and I always think of the silent, unobserved grief that implies. Part of the ritual of an obituary is to honor the deceased's family. Thank goodness the media now has the sense to extend that courtesy to gay people.
posted by Nelson at 9:35 AM on March 8, 2007


aww, love AYBS. Nice to see the intelligent comments and er, analysis. Glad the media mentioned his partner as well.

Stiff upper lip to the end...

The actor suffered from hepatitis A and had been taken into hospital for tests after problems with his liver.

It was revealed that he had the disease after it forced him to cancel the opening of a pantomime in London on December 9, 2004.

Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused through eating contaminated food, which the star believed was how he came to have the virus.


hmm.

And she said of Inman's sexuality: "Of course he never said he was gay, he just said he was a young man who was very good to his mother."

As a teen in the mid-70's I went to a tutorial school across the street from the Army & Navy Store in London, which reminded me of AYBS and I wondered if that weren't the model for the show. In NYC Lord & Taylor's has some of the feeling of AYBS, to this day.

Strange beginning for a Britcom pilot: "it was aired when it was because of free airspace that the Munich massacre during the 1972 Summer Olympics had created." A surreal contrast between the outer world of terrorists and a fuddy duddy store with the old-fashioned staff's volley of mischievous innuendos.
posted by nickyskye at 9:46 AM on March 8, 2007


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posted by beerbajay at 10:13 AM on March 8, 2007


Pastabagel: But it's possible I read it entirely wrong.

With ten years of research you woudn't have nailed that any better. To differing degrees, class and self deprecation are perennials of British comedy.
posted by vbfg at 10:15 AM on March 8, 2007


I note on further reading that you've had about twenty years of research.
posted by vbfg at 10:22 AM on March 8, 2007


jb, i find that "partner" or "life partner" (or "companion") is far far more common than "husband" or "wife" with that generation--it's like they can't even conceive of it like a regular marriage, unless it's as a joke.
posted by amberglow at 4:53 PM GMT on March 8 [+] [!]


That could be so, but I just wish that the British media/public would give people the chance to decide what they would like to call their ceremony and themselves, not automatically deny them the names (and the meaning) just because the Parliament is stupid. I don't know what Mr Lynch would call himself - did any of the papers ever ask him?

jb, I chose the term "wedding-equivalent" carefully because, as I understand British law, they did not have a wedding. I choose to use alternative terms to emphasize the inequality of the law. Calling his partner a "husband" or "wedding" makes it too easy for people to forget that in most parts of the world, men still don't have the right to have husbands.
posted by Nelson at 5:35 PM GMT on March 8 [+] [!]


I understand this too - but I don't think that giving into the language opf segregation of civil unions versus weddings is really the best way. I think we should defiantly call them weddings, if that is what the participants want, and screw whether the government calls them weddings or not. Actually, with the British civil union issue, it really is the name at stake - the government gave them many (but not all?) of the rights of marriage, but balked at the name.
posted by jb at 10:28 AM on March 8, 2007


I think many of us think of them as weddings and in conversation everyone certainly says, "oh, did you hear? elton john got married in london!" and stuff, but if they're officially not weddings or marriage then it's false and dishonest to pretend they are--especially in print. Until we actually have those same rights and exact same legal papers and licenses and everything, then they're really not weddings or marriages, no matter how we refer to them.

It actually hurts the effort to get equality to pretend that less-than or separate is really equal.
posted by amberglow at 10:38 AM on March 8, 2007



DAFFYD: Well, that's very subtle then. I always thought it was Captain Peacock. He's the one with the moustache.


Ya know, I got in a HUGE argument with my Brother-in-Law a couple years ago, because I happened to make an observation of mine known.

"The only people who wear mustaches are gay guys and rednecks..." He didn't like it, because he had a mustache in the early 90s (when he was in the Marines). Of course I had to reply "See... I'd consider you a redneck."

That didn't endear me to him at that moment. I tried to explain what I meant, but it apparently offended him.

But yeah. Gay guys and mustaches :P
posted by symbioid at 10:40 AM on March 8, 2007


RIP. I greatly enjoyed him on AYBS? and AYBS Again (the spin off show)

Sadness.
posted by rubyeyo at 10:48 AM on March 8, 2007


.

Best moment, which completely captures what the show was about:

The crew is spending the night in the store. Of course Mrs. Slocombe brought her pet.

you hear MEOW!
Mrs. Slocombe: "Mr. Humphries! Leave my pussy alone!"
posted by mike3k at 10:52 AM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Mr. Humphries is gone??? *sniff*
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:53 AM on March 8, 2007


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posted by cass at 11:27 AM on March 8, 2007


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posted by Kiell at 11:51 AM on March 8, 2007


A few years back, one of the local PBS affiliates -- I don't recall if it was WPBA 30 in Atlanta or Channel 45 out of Chattanooga -- ran a fan-friendly roast of John Inman. Naturally, this was during a pledge drive. Anyway, the one thing I remember most from the show was Inman's answer to the emcee's question about a role that he'd want to play, but never had the opportunity.

He said he'd love to be a James Bond arch-villain.

Ever since, I've always thought that would be the most over-the-top and awesome casting ever. I mean, can you even imagine?

Goodnight, Mr Humphries.

.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:53 AM on March 8, 2007


wfc123 writes 'BBC article said gay rights groups protested the show because he was too over-the-top. (?)

'Compared to the sitcoms today- like Will & Grace- he was "tame".'


That's the point - Will and the funny one are actually gay, and actually fuck. The problem people had with Mr. Humphries was that he was asexual, emasculated, &c. - literally a 'tame' gay man for a straight audience to keep as a pet. Though I expect that another reason for the character being so fiercely criticised was that any even slightly poofy schoolkid had to endure a barrage of Mr. Humphries-based bullying every time they flapped a limp wrist, even long after the series ended its run. I tend to think the character was problematic, but also pretty bloody funny.

Also, it's interesting that Kenneth Williams never faced such opprobrium for his Carry On character - maybe because he was spouting Polari on Round The Horne as a pretty explicitly out gay character, and putting in near-psychotic, sometimes downright queer performances on Just A Minute at the same time (being one of the funniest men ever to live probably didn't hurt, either).
posted by jack_mo at 12:55 PM on March 8, 2007


! . :(
posted by verveonica at 12:57 PM on March 8, 2007


Symbioid: Policemen also have moustaches. You know who else had a moustache? Hitler.

Also - Wendy Richard used to be the hotness. Just sayin'
posted by Sparx at 1:26 PM on March 8, 2007


Jack_mo
"... Kenneth Williams never faced such opprobrium for his Carry On character - maybe because he was spouting Polari on Round The Horne as a pretty explicitly out gay character"
Jules and Sandy (?) on RTH and BOK were clearly intended to be openly gay characters, but in one episode it was revealed that they were family men with wives and children - which added some ambiguity to the situation...
Mr. Humphries' preferences, on the other hand, were made pretty unambiguous in the building fire episode when his relationship with the rescuing fireman was quite clear...
Confusing times in the UK!
And, yes, I thought AYBS was a bit lame - but the individual performances were great. R.I.P. Mr. Inman...
posted by speug at 1:29 PM on March 8, 2007


Obviously sorry to hear that John Inman - as with anyone - has died, but the idea that Are You Being Served was anything but total dogshit defies belief.

I'm with you 100%.

Some people here may be interested to know that the equally dogshite 'Allo 'Allo is making a comeback in a few months. Is that the bottom of the barrel I hear being scraped?
posted by afx237vi at 1:46 PM on March 8, 2007


So
Farewell then
John Inman.
"I'm free!"
That was your catchphrase.
And now, you are.

RIP.
posted by greycap at 2:29 PM on March 8, 2007


And on the point about civil partnerships and terminology, my recollection is that the only way to get it past the Tories was to not call it marriage. At one point the Tories cynically tried to wreck it by amending the bill so that any co-habiting people could get legal and financial rights eg in the event of death; which was to completely miss the point that the idea was to give same-sex partners in love rights that had previously been denied them. Calling it the Marriage Equalisation Bill or something similar would have been the death toll to the bill. I know it's not properly equality in terms of marriage rights but I'd rather have a watered down form than nothing at all. Hopefully in another 5 years or so the political landscape will have changed enough that there can be some further legislation.
posted by greycap at 2:37 PM on March 8, 2007


Nooo, poor Mr. Humphries!
posted by zusty at 2:57 PM on March 8, 2007


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posted by Nabubrush at 2:58 PM on March 8, 2007


RIP Inman. Another camp show from the 70s comes to mind as I read this thread, Up Pompeii!.
posted by tellurian at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2007


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posted by graventy at 5:33 PM on March 8, 2007


He said he'd love to be a James Bond arch-villain.

Ever since, I've always thought that would be the most over-the-top and awesome casting ever. I mean, can you even imagine?


One of the French and Saunders Christmas specials had Inman doing a cameo as the Emperor in The Phantom Menace. It was great.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:38 PM on March 8, 2007


Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocum were really the only characters that had their outside-of-work lives portrayed or even talked about. They may have been over the top or cariacatures, but they're the ones everyone talks about and remembers.
posted by tommasz at 6:07 PM on March 8, 2007


That's the point - Will and the funny one are actually gay, and actually fuck. The problem people had with Mr. Humphries was that he was asexual, emasculated, &c.

When I was growing up in the 70s, hardly anyone had a sex-life on TV as explicit as Will's or anyone else on shows these days. (Harrrumph, said the old fogey...) The exception, I think, was the shows by Norman Lear.

Having said that, John Inman RIP. I was already an adult "out" gay man when I discovered AYBS re-runs on PBS, but I enjoyed them. I felt like it celebrated a certain "type" of queen I knew and encountered frequently, and it let everyone in on the joke, rather than making fun of the "type".
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:06 PM on March 8, 2007


I always took Mr. Humphries to be bi. Witness the scene where he ends up savaging Ms. Brahms in a failed attempt to tittilate the drunked Mrs. Slocombe. His sexuality was open-ended, ambiguous, and therein lie his power.
posted by Eideteker at 9:31 PM on March 8, 2007


Wonderful talent, wonderful man. And I am unanimous on that.
posted by Twang at 10:56 PM on March 8, 2007


an especially bad one about a superhero guy

Ah, amberglow, you mean "My Hero". I love Ardal O'Hanlon to the moon and back, but that is truly a terrible show.

RIP John Inman. He was terrific, and will be missed.
posted by smashingstars at 4:28 AM on March 9, 2007


that's it, smashing--appallingly bad--on a par with our worst.
posted by amberglow at 4:46 AM on March 9, 2007


Although I grew to hate AYBS (way too many repeats), I always liked John Inman's character, and it was nice to see Wendy Richard playing someone who wasn't bitching all the time (think "Pauline Fowler").
posted by therealshell at 5:58 AM on March 9, 2007


Great comments here.

I think Mr Humphries warmly appealed to an older generation who were sick of being told they villified gays by the next, more PC generation.

They could all point to him and say "oh, we knew someone just like that - and, really, we had no problems with him at all!"

Personally, I always thought it an empty sort of tolerance.

(I pretty much loathed the series, but I can see it was more interesting in retrospect. Inman sounded like an adorable guy.)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:22 AM on March 9, 2007


They could all point to him and say "oh, we knew someone just like that - and, really, we had no problems with him at all!"

Personally, I always thought it an empty sort of tolerance.

I get what you're saying, but...

"Knew someone"? I went out with "someone just like that". More than once, actually. Then there was that little piano bar on P Street (used to be in Georgetown) which was simply full of the queens from the gay mens chorus... Camp, camp. Bitch, Bitch. Judy. Liza. On and on and on. I've either lived or witnessed the stereotypes firsthand.

So: AYBS has a memorable place in the history of how gay men were depicted in mass-market popular culture. It's been an evolution, and only these last few years can gay characters be just sort of matter of factly "there" on broadcast TV. ("Brothers and Sisters"? I don't watch it, but hey.)

Quite frankly, I've always been more annoyed by Jack of Will & Grace: At this stage of my middle-aged-totally-over-it-gay life, I'll change the channel on him. Or, if, I'm forced to watch, mentally shake him and say "Girl, time to grow up!"
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:48 AM on March 9, 2007


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posted by motty at 7:15 AM on March 9, 2007


"Camp, camp. Bitch, Bitch. Judy. Liza. On and on and on. I've either lived or witnessed the stereotypes firsthand...."

Robert,
And I also get what you're saying...

But I think we're referring to two distinct cultural groups, one socially dominant - the other not at all.

The older heteros who calmly knew 'a Mr Humphries' in the 1970s workplace or at family weddings etc - the latter being the sort secure enough to drop clues about their sexuality, but within limits.

And the defiantly camp gays - the type you refer to in places "simply full of queens" - who gave full rein to the stereotype as a liberation.

I don't remember the two mixing without friction generally even in the 1980s.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:26 AM on March 9, 2007


Jody, I don't think the people I'm talking about were "defiant." In that time and setting, they were simply being themselves and having a good time. If "defiance" implies "opposition" to something, well no -- we were on a separate agenda, in our own space, "letting our hair down" as it were.

To put it another way, you could say that "All roads lead to Rome." If you're a Roman, you might think that's true. But if you're traveling from Athens to Istanbul, you couldn't care less. That's the way we were.

I should add that most of these guys worked at various Federal jobs, with varying degrees of "outness" there. LOC (Library of Congress) was, well, "full of queens".
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:00 AM on March 9, 2007


"LOC (Library of Congress) was, well, "full of queens".
posted by Robert Angelo

Sounds gorgeous, Robert (especially compared to watching AYBS in the company of my "liberated" - ha! - grandmother!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:21 AM on March 9, 2007


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posted by fredosan at 9:57 AM on March 9, 2007


Sad news indeed. I have a card from him, actually; I loved the show so much when I was a kid that I wrote to him for an autograph. I never heard back for the longest time, but then one day something addressed to me in my own hand turned up. I opened it and there was a handwritten note from John Inman apologizing for having taken so long, along with the signed picture. I thought that was sweet.
posted by etoile at 12:00 PM on March 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


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