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
    +5

    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
    +1

    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
    +12

    Comment number 84.

    Perhaps he is looking down, reading some of these comments with pride. I hope that he spent his years chuckling away at this ridiculous, comical world of ours, happy in the knowledge that he brought laughter to so many. For me, as has already been mentioned, Mainwaring and Pike with the 'don't tell him Pike' scene still reduces me tears rolling around on the floor.

    God bless you sir, sleep well.

  • rate this
    +2

    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
    +13

    Comment number 36.

    One of the reasons that so little of Dad's Army is missing is due in part to the actions of David Croft. When a request was sent to producers to have a show wiped he 'contrived to withhold consent'. Thanks David, I wish other producers of the time would have done the same thing, think how many other gems could have been saved.

 

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