Andy free to follow in the footsteps of comedy legend

A scene from Fylde Coast Players forthcoming show, Are You Being Served.
A scene from Fylde Coast Players forthcoming show, Are You Being Served.

An amateur actor will be following in some famous footsteps when he appears on stage next week... and not for the first time.

The Fylde Coast Players’ forthcoming production of Are You Being Served? has a strange coincidence regarding a member of the cast.

Andy Cooke, who plays the hilariously camp Mr Humphries, went to the same school as John Inman who played the character in the popular 1970s TV sitcom.

Andy attended Warbreck High School, now Unity Academy, which was previously known as Claremont School, during Mr Inman’s time there.

“Our drama teacher was called Len McGarry and he used to write pantomimes for John, who would star in them as the Dame, so they became great friends,” recalled Andy.

Mr McGarry used to tell us all about John and his exploits at school. He also used to make some of the comedy props that John used in his pantomimes.”

However, the coincidence doesn’t end there.

In 1976, John Inman was the subject of ‘This Is Your Life’ and the film crew came to Warbreck High School to interview Len McGarry.

As part of the story, Len produced one of his comedy mangles previously used by John Inman while playing Widow Twankey.

They selected six boys to be pushed through the mangle for a special effect – and one of these boys was Andy.

“I am really enjoying playing such an iconic character as Mr Humphries”, said Andy.

“However, having appeared on John Inman’s ‘This Is Your Life’, it is an added honour and I hope to do him justice.”

John Inman died in 2007, but his famous catchphrase “I’m free!” lives on.

n Are You Being Served?’ will be performed at Lowther Pavilion Theatre from July 5-8.