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24 September 2014

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You are in: Suffolk > Entertainment > Theatre and Dance > Reviews > Like father, like daughter

John Inman as Mr Humphreys in Are You Being Served

I'm free!

Like father, like daughter

Suffolk based comedy scriptwriting legend David Croft is well known for a string of classic BBC sitcoms. He's got a new one in the pipeline as has his daughter Penny which will reflect life in the county.

Many of you will have seen David Croft's name on the credits of some of this country's most successful TV comedies such as Dad's Army, Hi-De-Hi and Are You Being Served?

The Suffolk-based writer still appears to have the writing bug, as he and writing partner Jeremy Lloyd have penned a new sitcom.

Arthur Lowe and Ian Lavender

Capt. Mainwairing and Private Pike

It's called Here Comes The Queen and will star Wendy Richard (EastEnders and Are You Being Served), Ian Lavender (EastEnders and Dad's Army) and Les Dennis (Family Fortunes and Extras).  It's been filmed in Bury St Edmunds and is about a pair of siblings from Romford who find out they may be heirs to the Russian throne.

Penny for your thoughts

It does however appear that David is not the only successful writer in the Croft family.

His daughter Penny, who wrote the pilot episode for BBC's successful sitcom My Family, has also written a new sitcom.

Helen Atkinson-Wood

Mrs Miggins in Blackadder the Third

Zip & Hollow is set in Ixworth, Suffolk and it'll star Helen Atkinson-Wood (Mrs Miggins in Blackadder) and Liza Goddard (Pig In The Middle) among a group of friends who meet at a weekly Pilates class.

In 1987, Penny wrote Life Without George which was the story of an aerobics teacher who gets involved in an on-off relationship with Larry, a neurotic estate agent, played by the late British actor Simon Cadell (who also played Jeffrey Fairbrother in Hi-De-Hi). The show ended in 1989 after three series.

History lesson

David, along with Jimmy Perry, co-wrote four massively successful sitcoms for the BBC between 1968 and 1993, (Dad's Army, Hi-De-Hi, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and You Rang M'Lord).

In 1971, both writers and their Dad’s Army team, received a BAFTA award for Best Light Entertainment production. David and Jimmy received OBEs in 1978 for services to television. 

Simon Cadell and Ruth Madoc

Jeffrey and Gladys from Hi-de-Hi

Their partnership came to an end in 1993 and they have no plans to work together again, although they often attend annual Dad's Army events at Bressingham in Norfolk.

In 1995, David and BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Richard Spendlove wrote Oh, Doctor Beeching which was based around a railway station in the 1960s. The show starred many Croft and Perry favourites including Paul Shane, Su Pollard and Jeffery Holland, who also starred in Hi-De-Hi and You Rang M'Lord.

The future of comedy

Both pilots for Here Comes The Queen and Zip & Hollow were filmed earlier in 2007  with Suffolk town Ixworth, providing the back drop for Penny Croft's project.

Both shows have been produced by David Croft's company Worldwide Theatrix.

I would describe David and Penny as writing different styles of comedy - David doing standard mainstream comedy with Penny doing present day style comedy.

However, both are very much involved with each other's output - Penny was the co-producer on Here Comes the Queen.

David Croft with Jonathan Parramint

David Croft with Jonathan Parramint

After a visit to David Croft's home a couple of years back, and from meeting him at various events over the years, David has often talked to me about what he thinks of the comedy industry today. He is of the opinion that shows try to shock audiences, rather than make them laugh, and they tend to succeed.

Perhaps, this is because we, as an audience, are too lazy to change the channel, or comedy has changed in such a way that many have started to enjoy being shocked rather than amused.

One thing is for sure - catchphrases such as "You stupid boy", "Don't panic" and "I'm free" have gone down in comedy history along with the shows they come from.

However, it remains to be seen whether comedies such as Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show are still being watched and quoted in 30 years' time.

The pilot episodes of Here Comes the Queen and Zip & Hollow will be shown at MIPCON in Cannes from the 8th-13th October 2007.

last updated: 12/10/07

Have Your Say

So are the old comedies better than the current ones - or do we only remember the classics?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Walter Downes
Good to get an update on Penny. I met her whilst she was on tour in Hey Presto the Magic Show which turned out to be three great weeks for me and ending with the cast enjoying a weekend in Victoria falls.

Robert Aberdeen
I'd love to contact Penny. I've been told that I, was George.

philip burstein
thank you mark for, your help, in finding penny

philip burstein
i would love ,see life without george again please

philip burstein
please help me to contact penny as i went to school with penny

Callen [The voice]
The young of today would disagree obviously because comedy relates to different eras the golden age of tv comedy 1950s/60s classics such as 'steptoe + Son'-'Til death Us Do Part'-'Hancock'-'Some nothers do Av them'-'Likely Lads'-Porridge' etc take some beating and they are so watchable today. CALLEN [The Voice]

philip burstein
loved pennys voice in iu being served

the best old comedies are dad army,hi,de,di

I too am looking forward to HCTQ and Zip & Hollow. Hope both shows are put on the TV. They should be, after all David Croft has done for the comedy industry, especially for the BBC.

I look forward to Here Comes The Queen ! Lets hope it is better than Oh Doctor Beeching !

The old ones are the best. Although i'm a big fan of shows like The Office and Extras.

Yes. You can watch them and have laugh, without feeling sick to the stomach.

colin wilson
Definetly the old ones comic wit is more laughable without going over the top .

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