Dad's Army co-writer David Croft dies at the age of 89


Television writer David Croft dies aged 89

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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 Hi-de-Hi, also paid tribute to the writer.

Start Quote

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

End Quote Ian Lavender, Pike in Dad's Army

"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. Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell added: "His best monument is that his shows are still repeated."

Fruitful partnership

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 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."

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.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    It is impossible to say "I'm free" without impersonating Mr Humphries and you will never get away with Mrs Slocombe saying "But at 7 o'clock tonight, my pussy's expectin' to see a friendly face" (in case that gets me banned, it refers to her cat Tiddles). Timeless comedy in a better age for comedy from a great team, that still makes us laugh today. Thank you David.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    More sad news the era of true gebius writers and entertainers is coming to an end these age old repeats will outlive the rubbish out today

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    A great loss to the nation I say! We seem to be gradually losing all our comedy greats and unfortunately there seems to be no one to replace them. I agree with Dave Godfrey that the later shows were not of the quality of Are You Being Served? or Dads Army, but I think that perhaps reflected the time and it was the beginning of the gradual drift to reality show hell!

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    My children (8&13) are both studying World War 2 this year so we bought them the Dad's Army DVDs as we have fond memories of it when we were children. They both love it and watch it as much as they're allowed! 'Don't tell him, Pike' and 'You stupid boy!' have become part of our family's culture now. Thank you, David Croft.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    The likes of the truly brilliant David Croft won't be seen again for many a year. His eye for creative and eternal comedy that is timeless was wonderful.

    Viewers who enjoyed everything he did might well be consoled with complete re-runs of Hi-de-Hi and It Ain't Half Hot Mum, if the politically-correct club were to relax its grip on anything genuinely amusing.

    Condolences to his family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Sad, sad news. We still watch the DVDs of Dad's Army every week at home. As others have said, it's a shame we don't have writers of his ilk producing TV comedies these days. How bilge like My Family lasted years is beyond me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Don't tell him Pike! _ Classic

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    What a great writer, such vivid imagination. Vale Mr Croft.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    If ever we, as a country, needed this man ~ it's right here and right now.

    A genius of a man ~ I thoroughly salute you ~ what an amazing legacy to look back on ~ to know that your time on earth was spent bringing fun, happiness and joy to millions and millions of other humans.

    Amazing ~ a truly amazing man ~ Please don't rest in peace. Rest with laughter, happiness and joy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    A sad loss,yet another genuis pass's on. He leaves a legacy that will endure though for generations to come especially with Dads Army.
    Condolences to all his family and friends.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Later comedies were of dubious qualities, but Dad's Army is pure gold. Even the closing credits, where each of the main characters are credited perfectly sums them up in a brief moment each. It's takes a particular sort of genius to produce something so enduringly brilliant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    A sad loss for British Comedy.

    The fact that 43 years on, Dads Army continuously makes the top ten rated programmes every Saturday peak time on BBC2, says it all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    More talent in his little finger than most of today's alleged comedy writers put together. Take note BBC. In the meantime we'll carry on laughing at the reruns of DC's output.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    How very sad. It was always comforting somehow to know that people like David Croft were still with us. A link to hugely important shows that we of a certain age grew up with. Sadly so few are left but thier legacy and genius lives on. RIP. David Croft & thank you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Tributes will be shown for his programmes, but they are shown so often, it won't really be anything special. They would be better looking back at his particular life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    A great writer who filled my house with laughter...Dad's Army still funny after all these years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    A man who really deserved a knighthood for keeping the nation laughing through hard times. He spawned brilliant comedy with his manipulation of words.
    His humour is sorely missed in this day of cynicism however we have the legacy of all his creations that will endure.
    Heavens benefit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    I still watch Dad's Army & 'Allo 'Allo on DVD - this illustrates the greatness of his work, many years after they were first aired on TV.

    Gentle humour about deadly serious times from a gentleman.

    We shall remember him.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    At the risk of sounding like a name dropper, I met David on many occasions (family friends), and he was a wonderfully generous and kind man who was universally adored by all I ever saw meet him. He will be sorely missed by a great many people, including those whose lives he touched through his work - an accolade I consider to be amongst the highest a person can be given.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    At Trishbiker, my condolences. Rentaghost was one of my favourites as a kid. I hope he is at peace.


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