Thornton, who was 92, died peacefully in his sleep at his home on London on Saturday, March 16, according to his longtime agent David Daley. He is survived by Beryl, his wife of 67 years, their daughter Jane and three grandchildren.
"He was a great friend and consummate performer who was the glue who really held Are You Being Served? together," said co-creator Jeremy Lloyd.
This BBC report has more:
Are You Being Served? ran for ten seasons on the BBC from 1972 to 1985. The comedy followed the workplace follies of the staff at the fictional Grace Brothers’ Department Store. The show was famous for its slapstick comedy, sight gags and innuendo-laden humor. It became quite popular in the United States, thanks in large part to reruns on PBS stations around the country. (Our station still airs Are You Being Served? on our WETA UK channel today.)
Are You Being Served? came in twentieth in the BBC’s 2004 poll to identify the official Best British Sitcom. This is a pretty great summation video of why.
With the passing of Thornton, the only remaining major cast member who is still with us is Nicholas Smith, who played Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold. He told ITV News that Thornton was a “joy to work with”.
Thornton was also known for many other comedic roles, including playing Truly in Last of the Summer Wine and his appearances on Are You Being Served’s successor series Grace and Favour, among many others.
He’ll certainly be missed. A more extensive obituary can be found here at the Guardian and UK network ITV has put up a page in memoriam of Thornton, which includes a photo gallery, interviews, additional clips and more.