Are You Being Served? star John Challis hits out at 'upsetting' shows like Little Britain


Only Fools And Horses star John Challis, who plays Captain Peacock in the BBC's revival of Are You Being Served?, has slammed the nastiness of modern TV shows.

The actor, 73, believes audiences actually want "gentle family entertainment" back on their screens.

The new cast of Are You Being Served?

The comedy, set on the retail floor of fictional department store Grace Brothers, is making a comeback after over 31 years with a special episode as part of the BBC's Landmark Sitcom season, alongside other favourites including Porridge, Goodnight Sweetheart and Keeping Up Appearances.

John said he had been persuaded to join the sitcom revival because viewers had seen enough of shows like Little Britain.

He told The Mirror: "Are You Being Served? was such an iconic series, I thought, 'Should we be doing it again?'.

Matt Lucas and David Walliams starred in Little Britain

"But I get so many people, young and old, saying to me, 'We don't have TV like we used to'.

"Why can't we have those wonderful old series back where you can sit down with all your family and not have to worry about it?"

The world had changed and become more brutal, he said.

John Challis with his Only Fools And Horses co-stars in 2001

He added: "I think it's much more cruel, like with disabilities in Little Britain.

"They say if you laugh at it, you accept it as being in the broad tapestry of life.

"But I don't subscribe to that. I know an awful lot of disabled people who are upset about the way they've been portrayed.

"I also find the way they have portrayed women unsettling. It's a matter of taste. And a lot of that has disappeared.

John Challis at the Radio Times Festival

"It is upsetting for people. If you are sitting a family down in front of something like Little Britain, there are things which happen and you think, 'I shouldn't be watching this'."

The actor said he came from a "different world" and missed comedies such as Porridge and Fawlty Towers.

"There is a genuine feeling family entertainment has been missing and they want it back," he added.

With a red carnation in his jacket pocket, John has taken over the role of stuffy Captain Peacock from Frank Thornton, who died in 2013 at the age of 92.

The original cast of Are You Being Served?

He said Frank had been one of his "heroes" growing up, leaving "big shoes" to fill.

Others joining him in the resurrected sitcom are Loose Women's Sherrie Hewson as Mrs Slocombe, Jason Watkins as Mr Humphries, Roy Barraclough as Mr Grainger, Arthur Smith as Mr Harmon, Justin Edwards as Mr Rumbold and Niky Wardley as Miss Brahms.

New characters include Gavin And Stacey star Mathew Horne as Young Mr Grace (the original Young Mr Grace's grandson), Jorgie Porter as Mr Rumbold's secretary Miss Croft, and Kayode Ewumi as new recruit Mr Conway.