Dad’s Army co-creator David Croft dies at home aged 89

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David Croft

David Croft, co-writer and producer of classic comedies including ‘Allo ‘Allo and Hi-de-Hi has died at the age of 89, his family has announced.

He died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Portugal. His family called him a “truly great man” in a statement.

Croft’s military sitcoms It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and Dad’s Army, written with Jimmy Perry, were hits in the 1970s.

 

He is also credited with Are You Being Served and its 1990s spin-off Grace and Favour.

Actor Melvyn Hayes, one of the stars of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, called Croft a “genius” and said it was “a privilege to work with” him.

“There were no swear words in his shows. His programmes were the kind of thing you could sit in front of the TV and watch with your grandmother and grandchildren,” he told the BBC.

Welsh actress Ruth Madoc, who played Gladys Pugh in

Ruth Madoc as Gladys Pugh in Hi-de-Hi

, also paid tribute to the writer.

“ He just knew what tickled people, what made people smile”

Ian Lavender, Private Pike in Dad’s Army stated:

“He taught us so much, that was the great thing about him,” she told the BBC News Channel.

“He’d let you look in the camera lens and he’d teach you about that shot.

“He was a very, very clever man and not only did he do television but he slipped so easily into producing, writing and directing theatre, too.”

Jon Plowman, former head of comedy at the corporation, said Croft “invented a whole genre of comedy that was all his own”.

“The world is a less funny place for his going,” he added.

Croft, who was awarded an OBE in 1978 for services to television, worked alongside Jeremy Lloyd on both the department store sitcom and wartime farce ‘Allo ‘Allo, which was set in Nazi-occupied France. Comedians and writers have taken to Twitter to post tributes. David Walliams wrote: “Such sad news,” while Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell added: “His best monument is that his shows are still repeated.”

Original cast of Allo Allo

All of Croft’s hits were produced for the BBC, the last being Oh, Doctor Beeching in 1993 – after which he retired from the corporation.

A decade later, Croft was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy Awards.

Croft was born as David John Sharland to stage actress Annie Croft and Reginald Sharland, a successful Hollywood radio actor.

He enlisted in the army during World War II, which was to provide some of his later comic inspiration for Dad’s Army and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.
Dad’s Army Wartime sitcom Dad’s Army was one of Croft’s most enduring creations

Dad's Army

Dad’s Army was the first of his series to come to TV screens, in 1968, and marked the start of his fruitful and long-lived comic partnership with Jimmy Perry.

The BBC initially had misgivings about the concept – which followed the fortunes of a Home Guard platoon, the last line of defence should the Germans have invaded Britain during World War II.

But the affection with which the characters were treated soon endeared the show to audiences and corporate bosses alike.

The series went on to gain the creative partnership a trio of awards from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain in 1969-71.

More than 40 years after it was first screened, the sitcom is still being shown.

Ian Lavender, who played the hapless Private Pike in the series said Croft was “a great comic writer”.

“He just knew what tickled people, what made people smile,” he told BBC News.

“I have never come across anyone in the Home Guard who said Dad’s Army was a disgrace.

“They say they all had a Mainwaring in their platoon. We were laughing with them, not at them.”

Another Croft Classic - You Rang My Lord

 

Among Croft’s other achievements, he wrote scripts for numerous well-loved pantomimes and produced television shows in Hollywood and Australia.

The statement posted on his official website by his family added: “He was a truly great man, who will be missed by all who had the great fortune of knowing and loving him.”

It added that he would have been “proud that you had all been watching”, a nod to the tagline that appeared at the end of Croft’s TV sitcoms.

 

The Genius that was David Croft

Are You Being Served

Dad’s Army

It Ain’t Half Hot Mum

Allo Allo

Hi de Hi

You rang, m’lord?

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Dad’s Army Radio Show

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“Dad’s Army” was a long running British comedy series created and written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft. The idea of a series came to Jimmy Perry when he realised that many people had forgotten about the contribution the Home Guard had made to the British Home Front during the years of the Second World War.

Commencing in 1968, “Dad’s Army” ran on BBC Television for 9 years with over eighty episodes spread within 10 series. The series is set in a small fictional seaside town called Walmington-on-Sea somewhere on the South Coast of England.

“Dad’s Army” is also remembered for its first class actors which starred amongst its credits, Arthur Lowe as Captain Mainwaring, John Le Mesurier as Sergeant Arthur Wilson and Clive Dunn as Lance Corporal Jack Jones.

67 of Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s Television Scripts for “Dad’s Army” were adapted for BBC Radio by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles between 1973 and 1975. They were recorded at The Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue, London and at The Paris Studios, Lower Regent Street, London.

All episodes were recorded in Mono and exist on Magnetic Tape in the BBC Sound Archive.

The Radio Series began on Monday 24th January 1974 and ran for three series with its final episode been broadcast on 7th September 1976. The Series was generally given two air periods a week on BBC Radio 4, the second of which would be a repeat.



The show’s main characters were:

Supporting characters included:

  • Mrs. Mavis Pike (Janet Davies)—Pike’s mother and Sergeant Wilson’s lover.
  • Reverend Timothy Farthing (Frank Williams)—The effete vicar of St. Aldhelm’s Church, he shares his church hall and office with Mainwaring’s platoon.
  • Maurice Yeatman (Edward Sinclair)—Mr. Yeatman was the verger at St. Aldhelm’s Church and head of the Sea Scouts group, and was often hostile to the platoon.
  • Private Sponge (Colin Bean)—Private Sponge had the job of representing those members of the platoon not in Corporal Jones’ first section.
  • Private Cheeseman (Talfryn Thomas)—a Welshman who joined the Walmington-on-Sea platoon during the seventh series to compensate for the death of James Beck who played Private Walker.

All 67 episodes are being aired on ROK Classic Radio, listen out for them during the UK and UK & US Comedy Blocks on ROK Classic Radio OTR 🙂

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