Like father, like daughter
By Jonathan Parramint
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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