British star best known for BBC series `Served'

John Inman, the actor best known for his role in the British television series “Are You Being Served?,” died March 8 in London after a long illness. He was 71.

The BBC reported that Inman had been suffering from Hepatitis A.

Inman played the very camp Mr. Humphries — catch phrase, “I’m free!” — in the long-running BBC comedy, which ran for 65 episodes between 1973 and 1985 and was made into a feature film.

Inman had a long career in theater before he found television fame. He made his stage debut in Blackpool and joined Crewe Rep at the age of 21. He also worked briefly as a window dresser in London.

For many years he was half of a celebrated ugly sisters act, with Barry Howard, in pantomimes around the country. His West End appearances included roles in “Let’s Get Laid,” “Pajama Tops” and “Charley’s Aunt,” but his big break came when he was asked to play Mr. Humphries in 1973.

Inman claimed he based the role on assistants he had known in his days as a window-dresser, but his portrayal of Mr Humphries outraged many gay people in the seventies and his stage shows were often picketed by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality.

For much of his career Inman told interviewers that he was heterosexual but in 2005 he wed his long term partner Ron Lynch in a civil ceremony in London.

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