David Croft – 1922 – 2011
Major David John Croft, OBE (born David John Andrew Sharland; 7 September 1922 – 27 September 2011) was an English writer, producer and director.
He is perhaps best remembered for producing and co-writing a string of popular BBC sitcoms including You Rang, M’Lord?, Dad’s Army, Are You Being Served?, It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi! and ‘Allo ‘Allo!.
Born David John Sharland, on 7th September 1922. His parents were stage actress Annie Croft and Reginald Sharland, a successful radio actor in Hollywood.
David Croft was educated at St John’s Wood Preparatory School and Rugby School in Warwickshire. and made his first flurry into the world of show business aged just 7, in a commercial which aired in cinemas. Ten years later would see him make an uncredited appearance as Perkins in the film: Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), this is generally regarded as the beginning and the end of his film career.
Croft enlisted in the Army, serving in the Royal Artillery in 1942. He served during the Second World War in North Africa, India and Singapore, rising to the rank of Major. Unfortunately he contracted rheumatic fever in North Africa, and was sent home to convalesce and then underwent officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He was posted to India, arriving as the war in Europe ended, and was assigned to the Essex Regiment.
On 22nd June 1952, David Croft married theatrical agent Ann Callender on 2 June 1952. They had seven children. In retirement he lived in Tavira on the Algarve in Portugal.
Tragically on 27th September at home in his sleep David Croft died. He leaves behind him a legacy of some of the world’s best loved sitcoms that are as popular today as when he first introduced us to them.
When his military service ended he began working in the entertainment industry, as an actor, singer and writer, eventually settling as a TV producer.
Relocating to the Northeast of England he began work at Tyne Tees Television, here 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.
Life At The BBC
In the mid 1960’s it was off to the BBC, here he produced a number of the Corporation’s popular sitcoms such as Beggar My Neighbour, Further Up Pompeii! and Hugh and I. Whilst working on Hugh and I, he was introduced to actor Jimmy Perry.
Perry handed him a script he’d been working on, called: The Fighting Tigers, about the British Home Guard during the Second World War. Croft liked the idea and the rest as they say was history, the two men struck up an immediate partnership and co-wrote nine series of the show that they re-titled Dads Army.
While Dad’s Army was still running, Croft began to co-write Are You Being Served? with Jeremy Lloyd.
He would continue both writing partnerships for the rest of his career in several hit series including
It Ain’t Half Hot Mum,
You Rang M’Lord?
Before his retirement he would co-write one more series for the BBC, this time his co writer was Richard Spendlove, entitled Oh, Doctor Beeching!, broadcast from 1995 to 1997. However this wasn’t quite the final show, in 2007 Croft teamed up again with long time writing partner Jeremy Lloyd to create a television pilot, entitled Here Comes The Queen. The show was to have starred starred Wendy Richard and Les Dennis, but because of Wendy Richard’s death the show never went to a full series.
David Croft clocked up several honours during his lifetime, these included 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. Best Light Entertainment Production, 1971 Dad’s Army (With Team). (British Comedy Awards): 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award Writers’ Guild of Great Britain, who also awarded him and Jimmy Perry 1969, 1970 and 1971 Best Comedy Script.