73 (passed away May. 28th, 1978)
Feb. 26th, 1905
Petersfield, Hampshire, England, UK
Arthur Brough's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
The English actor Arthur Brough, who achieved fame as senior clothing salesman Mr. Grainger on the BBC-TV comedy series "Are You Being Served?" (1972) in the 1970s, after almost half-a-century on the stage, was born Frederick Arthur Baker on February 26, 1905 in Petersfield, Hampshire, England. After indulging in amateur theatrics with future "The Green Man" (1956) co-star 'Alistair Sim', Brough attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in the early 1920s. After graduating, he joined a Shakespearean theatrical troupe where he met his wife-to-be, actress Elizabeth Addyman. After they married, they used their wedding dowry as collateral to rent the Leas Pavilion, a repertory theater in Folkestone.
Arthur both ran the company and acted in the shows, and once the new Folkestone rep was established, he began establishing new repertory companies in Bradford, Bristol, Blackpool, Keighley, Leeds, Lincoln, Oxford and Southampton, as well as other acting companies throughout the country. With the advent of World War II, he enlisted in the Royal Navy, where he served for the duration. Upon being demobilized, he resumed his acting career by reopening the Folkestone rep.
Arthur Brough dedicated his life to the theater, and "Are You Being Served?" co-star Mollie Sugden credits him with helping train a generation of actors. In the 1950s, he established repertory theaters at Southend and Eastbourne. However, with the rise of television, he predicted the eclipse of repertory theater as a viable entertainment venue. In the 50s, he began seeking roles in the mass media, appearing in small roles in movies and television. His daughter, Joanna Hutton, said about his forecast of the decline of repertory theater, "He was very astute and unsentimental about it. He realized the era was over and that he must diversify. One of the first jobs he did away from the stage was the film "The Green Man" with Alastair Sim."
According to his daughter, he found it hard adjusting from stage to screen at first. "He realized how hammy he was. He used to take the mickey out of himself; he'd always acted in a Shakespearean manner and suddenly realized he had to tone down his performance for film."
Brough appeared in a wide variety of small and bit parts, including a small role opposite Jayne Mansfield in The Challenge (1960), and made guest appearances in TV shows such as "Upstairs, Downstairs", "Dad's Army" (1968), and " Z-Cars". He also continued to appear in theatrical productions, including Half a Sixpence (1967), playing a shopkeeper. The Folkestone Rep continued until 1969 before closing.
Throughout his time on the hit show, Brough's personal life was beset with sadness, as his beloved wife was seriously ill.
A crisis hit "Are You Being Served?" after it completed its fifth season (1977). All was going well: Producer David Croft (I) had hired Bob Spiers, a BBC director who'd recently directed "Fawlty Towers" (1975) and who later helmed the Emmy-winning "Absolutely Fabulous" (1992), to direct the sixth season. However, on Easter Sunday 1978, Arthur Brough's wife of 50 years, Elizabeth, passed away, and the emotionally devastated Brough announced he was quitting acting.
According to his daughter, he stayed with her for a few weeks, during which time David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd (I) made contact to say they were writing him into the next series. But unfortunately he died before filming commenced.
Brough died six weeks after his wife, on May 28, 1978, in Folkestone. Croft decided not to have another actor take over the part of Mr. Grainger, so his character in "Are You Being Served"? was replaced by Mr. Tebbs, played by James Hayter.
His co-workers have fond memories of working with Arthur, who - as his daughter noted - "was a highly respected actor who'd spent forty years in the profession." At the time of Arthur's death, David Croft said: "Arthur created a living character who was the inspiration for much of the humour His personality made him a pivot round which a whole lot of laughter and affection revolved."
- _"Are You Being Served?" (1972)_ (qv) producer 'David Croft (I)' (qv) remembered that Brough would often disappear off the set. "Whenever we were rehearsing he'd vanish at about three minutes to eleven," Croft recalled. "For a while we wondered where he went, but eventually discovered that he'd nip next door to the pub for a quick pink gin. We'd watch from the window as this little figure hurled towards the pub - we never spoke to him about it. One day when he returned, 'John Inman' (qv) asked where he'd been. He made some excuse, but what he'd forgotten was that it was pouring with rain and his bald head was soaking wet!".
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