Monday, February 1, 1999 Published at 08:59 GMT
Going down: 'Grace Bros' store closes
You have been watching. . .
The department store which inspired the sitcom Are You Being Served? served its last customers this weekend.
Simpson of Piccadilly - the London store where comedy writer Jeremy Lloyd once worked - is to become a bookshop.
Although Mr Lloyd's stint as a Simpson's employee was very brief, it proved to be fertile territory for his later career.
Since 1936, the emporium and purveyor of "quality clothes for the well-heeled" has welcomed customers to its Piccadilly Circus base.
But its owners have decided the premises are uneconomic, although its line of suits will carry on.
In 1929, it moved to North London and in the early 30s created the DAKS brand. The DAKS trouser, with its patented self-supporting waistband, became a worldwide best-seller.
And in 1936, the company opened its own eight floor speciality store in Piccadilly.
Jo Smith, a spokeswoman for the firm, said: "We are keeping the closure pretty low key, as the DAKS brand will continue its strong presence with the opening of two new men's and women's shops in February."
The comedy was bawdy and quintessentially British.
John Inman camped it up as a tape measure-brandishing men's sales assistant - always ready to take an inside leg measurement.
The innuendo was loud and clear
Before he was offered the part in Are You Being Served? he was already working in a department store - selling toys in London's Selfridges.
Gay rights groups initially reacted with outrage to Inman's character.
Although Mr Humphries was never explicity called a homosexual in the show, the innuendo was loud and clear.
Molly Sugden's violently coiffed Mrs Slocombe regaled viewers with tales of her pussy.
And the banter between Miss Brahms and Mr Lucas bordered on Benny Hill.
So successful was the TV show, that in 1976 - the year of Britain's most memorable drought - the production took to the stage in Blackpool. A movie followed shortly.
The phenomenon did not escape the attention of overseas programme commissioners and makers.
By 1979 the Americans had created their own version of the show, called Beanes of Boston.
The following year the Australians came up with Bone Brothers, which starred John Inman as Mr Humphries.
Fifteen episodes were adapted by Jeremy Lloyd for Aussie audiences.
But the huge American love affair with the British shop assistant hierarchy was about to begin in earnest.
In 1987, a total of 24 public service channels began screening the British version of the show.
It scored a hit with American audiences, who formed fan clubs, flocked to meet the stars of the show on their visits to the States, and snapped up souvenirs and mementoes.
So even though Simpsons of Piccadilly closd its doors for the last time on Saturday, the memory of the store looks set to live on - on TV screens across the world.
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