A small archive of theatrical ephemera that belonged to Arthur Brough (1905-1978), best known for his portrayal of Mr Grainger in the long running TV series ‘Are You Being Served?’ is coming up for auction in Tennants Auctioneers Toys & Collectables Sale on 1st April.
Arthur Brough (born Frederick Arthur Baker), was a highly respected actor and impresario, who dedicated his life to the theatre and worked with some of the greatest actors of his generation. Brough attended RADA, and after marrying fellow actor Elizabeth Addyman, the couple took on the Leas Pavilion repertory theatre in Folkstone, Kent. Here his theatre company ‘The Arthur Brough Players’ were to stage plays for many years, with only a short hiatus during World War II when Brough served in the Royal Navy. The careers of many well-known names of TV and stage began at Leas Pavilion, such as Polly James and Trevor Bannister, who later portrayed Mr Lucas in ‘Are You Being Served?’.
With the rise in popularity of television, in the mid-1960s Brough diversified and made the leap to film and television before the Folkstone theatre was closed in 1969. After appearances in shows such as ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’, ‘Dad’s Army’ and ‘Z-Cars’, Brough was cast as Ernest Grainger in ‘Are You Being Served?’ in 1972, and would appear in five series until he retired in 1978 following the death of his wife.
The archive comprises letters, including examples from Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright and Sybil Thorndike, programmes, photographs and theatrical ephemera relating to the Leas Pavilion and The Arthur Brough Players, photographs and personal documents relating to Brough’s spell in the Royal Navy, and an invitation to appear at The Royal Variety Performance in 1963. There are also a number of photographs by renowned photographer Angus McBean of Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, Michael Redgrave and Joan Greenwood, all signed and inscribed to Arthur by the sitters.
Angus McBean was one of the most significant portrait photographers of the 20th century, known for his soft, beautifully lit and often surreal photographs of actors and theatre productions. He was the official photographer for the Royal Opera House, Sadler’s Wells and The Old Vic, and later in his career when on to work for music label EMI and created the first four album sleeves for Cliff Richards and The Beatles first Album ‘Please Please Me’.
The archive has been kept by Brough’s family since his death in 1978 and is being offered with an estimate of £500-700 (plus buyer’s premium).
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