David Croft (1922-2011)

The sad news of David Croft’s death has prompted me to reflect on my personal relationship with his work. It began when I was about five years old, I suppose, when I discovered ‘Allo ‘Allo, a series full of cheap gags and yet still audaciously funny. I do not recall a Sunday lunch with my family when I have not had occasion to pass the pepper mill with the phrase ‘It is old, but it still grinds’. Of course, I didn’t pick up on the innuendo upon innuendo at that age, but I did fall profoundly in love with the characters, as I still am. Unusual that a comedy series, and an unashamedly silly one at that, should engage one’s emotions so much.

I remember distinctly my mother or father telling me a year or so later that there was a TV programme on BBC1 that night which they thought I might like. It was Dad’s Army, repeated then (I think) on Tuesday evenings. They were right, of course. I’ve been infatuated with the very idea of sitcoms all my life, and Dad’s Army, one of my first loves, is still pretty much at the top of the tree. A lot of it comes down to the perfection of the performances – particularly those of Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier, from whom a minute tilt of the head is capable of sending the viewer into raptures, but also Arnold Ridley, John Laurie, and all the rest – but one has to give great credit to the writing too. One of the first episodes I knew, perhaps the first I ever saw, was ‘A. Wilson (Manager)?’ It has everything. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, you could pay no greater compliment to Croft’s memory than to sit down and watch it now. The series finished 35 years ago, and still it is repeated every week on BBC2. How many writers could make such a boast? Rest in peace, Mr Croft, and thank you.



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3 Responses to “David Croft (1922-2011)”

  1. Cross-Eyed Pianist Says:

    I loved Dad’s Army as a child (and still enjoy the repeats on BBC2!). The title sequence with the arrows and the song, and then the closing sequence “You have been watching”….

    Family urban legend has it that my husband’s grandfather Donald Wilson was the inspiration for Captain Mainwaring: he was a stalwart of Parkstone society being a local businessman, chairman of the conservative club and a leading light in the Home Guard. I never met the man (he died before I joined the family) but anecdotes about him – and family photos – suggest he was certainly a Captain Mainwaring type.

    I never liked Hi de Hi or ‘Allo ‘Allo, though I do recall inflicting the latter on a drippy French student who was staying with us. He declared it “Orrible!”

  2. Gareth Says:

    One of the things I always loved about the programmes David Croft made with his various collaborators was the ‘You have been watching’. So nice to see everyone credited in that way, and sometimes to hear the audience apparently cheering particular favourite cast members. When I reach the end of any TV programme or film, I’m always ever so slightly disappointed when the credits roll and there’s no sign of the cast’s faces again.

    The little I’ve seen of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum disposes me to dislike it, and I never much liked Hi-de-Hi! either (though I adored Simon Cadell in it – too good for the rest of the cast, I thought). I showed ‘Allo ‘Allo to my own French exchange student, Mathieu, explaining how each nationality was distinguished by their accents and various characteristics. I’m pretty sure it was broadcast in France and I was surprised he hadn’t encountered it before (but he wasn’t much of a television watcher – he did archery at the weekend). I believe it was even exported to Germany a few years ago, which nobody thought would ever happen, and enjoyed some success.

  3. argumentativeoldgit Says:

    I’ve long been a fan of Dad’s Army, and even remember the first broadcasts. We have all the series on DVD, and I watch them often with our teenage daughter (who is also a fan). It’s virtually impossible to pick a favourite, but if I had to pick one, I’d go for “Asleep in the Deep”, where they’re stuck in a bombed out shelter with leaking water pipes, and with the water levels steadily rising.

    Did you seeCelebrity Mastermind with Ian Lavender? When asked for his name, someone in the audience shouted out “Don’t Tell Him Pike!”

    It Ain’t Half Hot Mum wasn’t in the same class, but I think I like it better than you do. For one thing, given my own background, I need not worry about it’s political incorrectness!

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