David Croft (TV producer)

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Major David Croft, OBE
David Croft, May 2011.jpg
Croft in May 2011
Born David John Andrew Sharland
(1922-09-07)7 September 1922
Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset, England
Died 27 September 2011(2011-09-27) (aged 89)
Tavira, Algarve, Portugal
Other names David John Croft
Occupation Writer, producer, director, actor
Years active 1939–2011
Spouse(s) Ann Callender
(m. 1952–2011)
Children Nicholas Croft
Penelope Croft
Jane Croft
Rebecca Croft
John Croft
Richard Croft
Timothy Croft
Parents Reginald Sharland
Annie Croft
Awards British Comedy Awards
2003 Lifetime Achievement Award
Writers' Guild of Great Britain
1969 Best Comedy Script Dad's Army
1970 Best Comedy Script Dad's Army
1971 Best Comedy Script Dad's Army
Desmond Davies award (1981)
Website
www.davidcroft.co.uk

Major David John Croft OBE (7 September 1922 – 27 September 2011), born David John Andrew Sharland, was an English writer, producer and director. David Croft is particularly noted for producing and co-writing a string of popular BBC sitcoms with Jimmy Perry and Jeremy Lloyd including Dad's Army, Are You Being Served?, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi! and 'Allo 'Allo!.

Early life[edit]

Croft was born into a showbiz family: his mother, Annie Croft (1896–1995), was a famous stage actress and his father, Reginald Sharland (1886–1944), had a successful career as a radio actor in Hollywood. His first public appearance was at age 7, when he was seen in a commercial which aired in cinemas.[1] After that, his acting career in films "began and ended"[2] with his uncredited appearance as Perkins in the film Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). Croft was educated at St John's Wood Preparatory School and Rugby School in Warwickshire.[3] He married theatrical agent Ann Callender on 2 June 1952, and they had seven children.[4]

Croft enlisted in the Royal Artillery in 1942. He served during the Second World War in North Africa, India and Singapore. After contracting rheumatic fever in North Africa, was sent home to convalesce and then underwent officer training at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was posted to India, arriving as the war in Europe ended, and was assigned to the Essex Regiment, rising to the rank of Major. When his military service ended he began working in the entertainment industry, as an actor, singer and writer.

Career[edit]

Croft met Freddie Carpenter, who produced many pantomimes for Howard & Wyndham across the UK, resulting in Croft writing scripts such as Aladdin, Cinderella and Babes in the Wood. Through his lifelong friend, composer/conductor Cyril Ornadel, Croft met the producer Fiona Bentley, who had obtained rights to adapt and musicalise a number of Beatrix Potter stories.[5] Croft wrote the scripts and lyrics for a series released on His Master's Voice Junior Record Club, narrated by Vivien Leigh and starring several singer-actors and actresses including Barbara Brown, Graham Stark and Cicely Courtneidge.[6] David Croft himself played a number of roles, including Timmy Willie in Johnny Town-Mouse,[7] Kep in Jemima Puddle-Duck,[8] and Old Brown in Squirrel Nutkin.[9]

Croft relocated to the Northeast of England to work at Tyne Tees Television, where he produced many editions of the variety show The One O'Clock Show. For Tyne Tees Croft also directed and produced the admags Ned's Shed and Mary Goes to Market, as well as producing his first sitcom, Under New Management, set in a derelict pub in the North of England.[10]

After leaving Tyne Tees Television to work at the BBC in the mid-1960s, he produced a number of the Corporation's popular sitcoms such as Beggar My Neighbour, Further Up Pompeii! and Hugh and I. It was while producing Hugh and I that he was introduced to actor Jimmy Perry, who handed him an unsolicited script for a pilot called The Fighting Tigers about the British Home Guard during the Second World War. Croft liked the idea. The two men co-wrote nine series of the show, which was retitled Dad's Army, as well as a feature film and a stage show based on it.[11]

While Dad's Army was still running, Croft began to co-write Are You Being Served? with Jeremy Lloyd. He was to continue both writing partnerships for the rest of his career in several hit series including It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi! and 'Allo 'Allo!. He then started up You Rang, M'Lord?, a show that spoke of policies and unfairness in 1927. His last full series Oh, Doctor Beeching!, broadcast from 1995 to 1997, was co-written with Richard Spendlove. He created a television pilot in 2007, entitled Here Comes The Queen, with Jeremy Lloyd. This pilot starred Wendy Richard and Les Dennis, but because of Wendy Richard's death the show never went to a full series.[12]

As a producer, Croft's regular practice was to signal the end of an episode with the caption "You Have Been Watching ...", followed by vignettes of the main cast.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1995 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel outside BBC Television Centre.

Death[edit]

David Croft died in his sleep on 27 September 2011, at his home in Portugal. He was 89 years old.[13]

Awards and honours[edit]

Croft became an Officer of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire with Jimmy Perry in 1978 for services to television. He also received the 1981 Desmond Davis award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, for his outstanding contributions to the industry.[14]

Croft's awards include:

Production and writing career[edit]

In addition to writing most of the episodes of these television series, Croft also worked as producer, director and, later, executive producer.

Written with Jimmy Perry[edit]

Written with Jeremy Lloyd[edit]

Written with Richard Spendlove[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shown in Comedy Connections 'Allo 'Allo! and It Ain't Half Hot Mum
  2. ^ according to his website
  3. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2011/sep/27/david-croft David Croft Obituary in The Guardian. Retrieved 27 September 2011
  4. ^ Nicholas Croft, Penelope Croft, Jane Croft, Rebecca Croft, John Croft, Richard Croft and Timothy Croft. They have fifteen grandchildren.
  5. ^ http://www.davidcroft.co.uk/Biography/
  6. ^ http://www.minigroove.nl/english21.html
  7. ^ http://www.45cat.com/record/7eg115
  8. ^ http://www.45cat.com/record/7eg110
  9. ^ http://www.45cat.com/record/7eg106
  10. ^ Morgan-Russell 2004, p. 11
  11. ^ official website/Biography
  12. ^ Daily Mirror: Miss Brahms Is Back
  13. ^ BBC News (27 September 2011). "Comedy creator David Croft dies aged 89". BBC Online. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Television – Desmond Davis Award

Bibliography[edit]

  • Morgan-Russell, Simon (2004). Jimmy Perry and David Croft. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-6556-9. 

External links[edit]