Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Late Great Jeremy Lloyd

Jeremy Lloyd, the actor and writer who created Are You Being Served? and 'Allo Allo with David Croft, died on 22 December 2014 at the age of 84. He was being treated for pneumonia.

Jeremy Lloyd was born on 22 July 1930 in Danbury, Essex. He spent much of his childhood living with his grandmother in Manchester. When he was about 13 years old his father placed him in a home for the elderly. As an adult Mr. Lloyd supported his grandmother through nearly any job he could find. He dug roads. He sold paint. And he worked at the department store Simpsons in Piccadilly. The experience would provide the inspiration for Are You Being Served?.

Eventually Jeremy Lloyd took up writing. His first writing credit was for continuity for an episode of the TV show Six-Five Special in 1958. He also wrote episodes of New Look and Spectacular. In addition to writing Jeremy Lloyd also took up acting. He made his film debut in School for Scoundrels and that same year appeared in Man in the Moon.

The Sixties saw Jeremy Lloyd's writing career take off. He provided the idea for the 1961 Adam Faith film What a Whopper. He was a regular writer on the TV shows The Dickie Henderson Show, Mum's Boys, and Rowan & Martin's Laugh In. He also continued his acting career. He appeared in such films as Seven Keys (1961), Very Important Person (1961), Operation Snatch (1962), Crooks Anonymous (1962), We Joined the Navy (1962), Death Drums Along the River (1962), A Hard Day's Night (1964), Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes (1965), Help! (1965), A Study in Terror (1965), The Sandwich Man (1966), The Assassination Bureau (1969), and The Magic Christian (1969). He was a regular performer on the TV show Rowan & Martin's Laugh In. He also appeared on such shows as The Rag Trade, ITV Play of the Week, Callan, and The Avengers.

Upon his return to England Jeremy Lloyd decided to create a situation comedy based on his experiences at the Simpsons department store. He sent the script for the programme's first episode, titled Are You Being Served?, to ITV. It was not long afterwards that he encountered David Croft, best known for creating Dad's Army and with whom he had worked earlier. David Croft was fascinated by Jeremy Lloyd's idea for a sitcom set in a department store and convinced him to get the script back from ITV.  Together they sold Are You Being Served? to the BBC. The BBC made a pilot and, being unimpressed by it, had no plans to make a series. Fortunately the BBC finally aired the pilot on the anthology series Comedy Playhouse where it proved popular with audiences. In the end Are You Being Served? would run for thirteen years and proved to be a hit not only in the United Kingdom, but in the Untied States, Canada, and Australia as well. The show would be adapted as the Australian series Are You Being Served, Australia and adapted as the failed American pilot Beanes of Boston.

In addition to Are You Being Served? Jeremy Lloyd also wrote the screenplays for the films Vampira (1974), The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones (1976), and the feature film based on the sitcom Are You Being Served? (1976). He also wrote created the TV shows Whodunit? and co-created the shows Come Back Mrs. Noah and Oh Happy Band with David Croft. He also continued acting. he had a regular role on the TV show It's Awfully Bad for Your Eyes, Darling and appeared on the shows Shirley's World, Dear Mother...Love Albert, Funny You Should Say That, and Whodunit?. He appeared in the films Lady Chatterly Versus Fanny Hill (1971), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), and The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones (1976).

In the Eighties Jeremy Lloyd continued to work on Are You Being Served?. He co-created 'Allo Allo with David Croft. He also wrote an episode of Seacombe and Music. In the Nineties Mr. Lloyd created the Are You Being Served? spinoff Grace & Favour with David Croft. He also wrote the TV movie Which Way to the War and an episode of Omnibus. As an actor he made cameos on both 'Allo 'Allo and Grace & Favour. His last work as an actor was in the feature film Benjamin Britten: Peace and Conflict, released last year.

Jeremy Lloyd's immortality was long ago secured by the success of Are You Being Served?. The show proved to be one of the most popular Britcoms of all time. Are You Being Served? proved to be a hit in the United States, Singapore, and most of the Commonwealth. One would be hard pressed to find another British comedy that saw the success of Are You Being Served?.

As to why Are You Being Served? was a success, it was largely due to Jeremy Lloyd's talent as a comedy writer. He had a gift for creating wildly eccentric, yet loveable characters. Jeremy Lloyd's characters seemed real regardless of how exaggerated or strange they might be. Not only did Mr. Lloyd have a gift for creating memorable characters, but he also had a knack for farcical situations and double entendres. Only geniuses at comedy such as Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft could figure out new ways of working Mrs. Slocombe's pussy into episodes of Are You Being Served? (and, for those of you who haven't seen the show, it's not what you think....). Jeremy Lloyd was one of the truly great comedy writers of all time, and one who has left his mark on television throughout the Anglosphere.

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