Frank Thornton, who was perhaps best known for playing Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served?, has died aged 92.
The actor passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday morning, according to a statement from his agent David Daly.
During a showbiz career that lasted for more than 60 years, Thornton appeared in many of Britain’s best-loved sitcoms and left an indelible mark on the history of comedy in the country.
Thornton was born in Dulwich, South London in 1921 and became an actor after taking evening classes while working for an insurance firm. Having serving as an officer in the RAF during the Second World War, Thornton made his first appearance on TV in 1950.
During the 1960s he landed roles in comedy shows alongside performers like Tony Hancock, Benny Hill and Spike Milligan. Thornton also became a semi-regular actor on Steptoe and Son, appearing in a variety of guises on the show between 1963 and 1973.
But he found his greatest fame as Captain Stephen Peacock, the snooty shop worker with a dubious military record, in Are You Being Served?, which ran from 1972-85.
He later reprised the role in the 1990s spin-off Grace and Favour, and was one of Are You Being Served?’s last surviving cast members, along with Nicholas Smith who played department store manager Mr Rumbold.
In later years Thornton starred as Truly in some 135 episodes of Last of the Summer Wine, and most recently appeared in the big-screen adaptation of Ray Cooney’s Run for Your Wife, which was released in February.
“I have been Frank’s agent since 1986 and he has been the most wonderful client as well as being a great friend. He will be sorely missed,” Daly told the BBC.
Thornton is survived by Beryl, his wife of 67 years, their daughter Jane, and three grandchildren.