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 108.

    5 or 6 years ago I was playing cricket in Devon and the scorer shouted on to the pitch for the bowler's name, which happened to be Pike. Without hesitation, or planning, 10 men shouted back in unison 'Don't tell him your name Pike!'. We eventually lost the game, but probably because we were all still laughing. Thank you David for one of the funniest summer afternoons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    The end of an era. An amazing talent for humour and entertainment. They just don't make them like that any more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    I stll remember not wanting to go to bed until the sirent went. the first show ever that made me wet myself laughing!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Does anybody else, when answering the phone to family members, simply answer with a deep pitched "Menswear"?

    The thing is, the catchphrases are all so eminently useable: "They don't like it up 'em" (NoTW editors); "You stupid boy" (ministerial announcement); "You've all done very well" (insincere gratitude to subordinates); "I wondered if you'd spot that" (shown to be wrong); the list goes on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    What a wonderful talent. Heartfelt thoughts to all David's family and loved ones. Of all his brilliant work Dad's Army is far and away my favorite sitcom. So much laughter in there. The very best of British.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    The last of the great writers. At 46, I am lucky enough to remember the greats of comedy, two ronnies, morecambe and wise, faulty towers, only fools.....the list goes on. without the brilliance of people like jimmy perry and David croft and would be a sombre world.
    Lest we forget..David.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    A wonderful person who captured the essence of British society and brought out the amusing elements of it. A quality which means future generations will still enjoy a quality ability. It is a pity that the amusing elements can still be seen today, in the regular forces. A joke of old is a concern of today, when it still applies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Such a great comedic talent with a sharp knowledge of ironic stereotypical parodies... I grew up laughing at these shows, before everything went all boringly PC and hypersensitive.

    Now we can't say anything about anyone anymore.

    My deepest sympathies to the family.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    It's very annoying that the journalist can't quote Ian Lavender correctly. It's 'Mainwaring', not 'Mannering'.

    It's bad enough that the average Brit has difficulty spelling or pronouncing this name, but it's a cardinal sin for the journalist to get this wrong!


    Jon Mainwaring.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    the man is a hero ! i will sit down one night with a glass of wine and put on some dads army videos . his shows keep the memories of my grand parants who loved his stuff . genius

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    This man was from an era when BBC comedy was just funny.
    It didn't worry about being PC.
    It didn't worry about being controvercial.
    It didn't worry about AD or BC.
    It was, as we all know, the "Golden age of the BBC"
    RIP David.
    The comedy dross that the BBC turns out today must have David turning in his grave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    As long as we enjoy good comedy, David will live in our memories as part of TV's golden age. "Dad's Army" marches on. Thanks, David.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Would recommend all the best comments here. Our twenty something children feel the same too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    A true legend, and a very sad day for all of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    A very talented man who made us laugh what greaer tribute to him, laughter the best medicine of all, my family and i still watch Dads Army and laugh, myself because I used to have a boss who was just like mr Mannering, a loss to the whole country and especially to his family our thoughts stretch out to them

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    typical shabby nazzi trick RIP CP1

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Sad day and thoughts are with his family. But what a legacy he left. Dads Army ... none bettered and up there with all the greats Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and the rest. Genius is the word that is overused in many cases but not for David Croft. Gloriously written TV series. What a talent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Never, in the field of great comedy, have so many owed so much to so few.

    A personal thank you for the hours and hours of enjoyment you gave us, I still watch the repeats and I still laugh. True genius, good clean entertainment and much better than any "comedy" series we get thrown at us now.


  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    David Croft, Jimmy Perry and John Sullivan, should be remembered in perpetuity for their abilities to write material that provided real family viewing that could not offend any reasonably minded person. The posts on this blog indicate to me that perhaps the BBC needs seriously to review its current comedy output, and look back to a time when real family entertainment was at the core of its values.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I will say this only once, good comedy is memorable but great comedy is unforgettable.


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