Nicholas Smith (actor)

Nicholas John Smith (5 March 1934 – 6 December 2015) was an English comedy actor. He appeared in the BBC sitcom Are You Being Served?, playing Mr Rumbold, a manager at the fictional Grace Brothers department store.

Nicholas Smith
Nicholas John Smith

(1934-03-05)5 March 1934
Banstead, Surrey, England
Died6 December 2015(2015-12-06) (aged 81)
Sutton, London, England
Years activetheatre pre 1960, television 1960–2009
TelevisionAre You Being Served?
Spouse(s)Mary Smith
ChildrenCatherine Russell

Early life

Smith, the son of a chartered surveyor, attended a preparatory school and St John's School, Leatherhead. He learned to play musical instruments, studied singing and trained as an actor at RADA. He then appeared in repertory theatres, on the West End stage, at the Bristol Old Vic and on Broadway.[1]


Smith's earliest TV roles were as a non-speaking extra in various ITV programmes. He had his first speaking role in the BBC's Doctor Who serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964). Smith persuaded the serial's director, Richard Martin, to expand the role so that his character, Wells, appeared in three of the serial's six episodes instead of only one or two as originally scripted. This was followed by small roles in many other adventure series, such as The Saint, The Avengers, The Champions and Ace of Wands. In 1969 he made the cast list of one of televisions great period dramas, 'The First Churchills' in which he played the historical figure of Titus Oates.

Are You Being Served?

Are You Being Served? began with a pilot episode in 1972, with Smith playing Mr Cuthbert "Jug Ears" Rumbold, the manager of the menswear and ladieswear departments in a large fictional London store called Grace Brothers.

Smith remained with the programme until the end of its run in 1985, as well as appearing in the spin-off film in 1977 and the sitcom's sequel, Grace & Favour (also known as Are You Being Served? Again! in the United States), in 1992 and 1993. Following the death of Frank Thornton on 16 March 2013, Smith was the last surviving member of the original cast of Are You Being Served?[2] The last surviving principal actor is Mike Berry, who joined the cast beginning in 1981 for series 8 as "Mr Spooner" after Trevor Bannister left the series.

Other roles

From September 1972, in contrast to his contemporaneous work in Are You Being Served?, he also had a semi-regular role as PC Jeff Yates in the series Z-Cars. His last appearance as Yates was in February 1975. His film work included appearances in Salt and Pepper (1968), A Walk with Love and Death (1969), The Twelve Chairs (1970), dubbed in an Italian version of The Canterbury Tales (1972) directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, and The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975) as Hunkston, Sigerson Holmes' servant. He played Mr. Simpkins (a miserable and desperately unattractive leisure centre manager who had rings run around him by two lazy, womanizing Australian criminals who had taken jobs in the leisure centre as a cover for their crimes) in the Sweeney, episode Golden Fleece in 1975.

In 1979, he appeared in Worzel Gummidge as Mr Foster, the headmaster of the school.

In 1986 he played Sir John Treymayne in the British tour of Me And My Girl, a role played in the West End by his Are You Being Served? co-star Frank Thornton. In 1987 he joined the cast on And There's More and was paired up with Joan Sims for a number of sketches for each episodes as an old couple.

He appeared in the TV mini-series Martin Chuzzlewit. In 2005, Smith featured in a supporting role as vicar Clement Hedges in the Academy Award-winning film Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. In 2008, he appeared as a vicar in Last of the Summer Wine.

In 2010, he appeared in children's TV programme M.I. High as Professor Quakermass. Smith also wrote music and poetry.

Personal life and death

Smith was the father of actress Catherine Russell. He died on 6 December 2015 following seven weeks of hospitalisation for a head injury from a fall at his home in Sutton, Surrey.[3][4]

Partial filmography


  1. Who's Who on Television Independent Television Publications Ltd (1970).
  2. "Frank Thornton, Star Of 'Last Of The Summer Wine', 'Are You Being Served?' Dies, Aged 92". Huffington Post. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  3. "Are You Being Served? actor Nicholas Smith dies aged 81". BBC News. 7 December 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  4. Farquhar, Simon (8 December 2015). "Nicholas Smith: Comic actor who excelled in Gilbert and Sullivan, best known as Mr Rumbold in 'Are You Being Served?'". The Independent. London. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  • Nicholas Smith on IMDb
  • Are You Being Served? A Celebration of Twenty-Five Years. Richard Webber with David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd. New York; Welcome Rain, 1998.
  • Nicholas Smith (Aveleyman)

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