Tributes to 'genius' David Croft

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The Independent Online

Tributes have been paid to the "genius" of David Croft, the co-creator of hit sitcoms including Dad's Army, who died today aged 89.

His string of blockbuster BBC shows included 'Allo 'Allo, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Hi-De-Hi!



A statement released by his family said he "died peacefully in his sleep at his house in Portugal earlier today".



It added: "He was a truly great man, who will be missed by all who had the great fortune of knowing and loving him. We know that he would of been proud that you had all been watching."



His partnership with Jimmy Perry proved to be one of British television's most successful.



Together they wrote Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-De-Hi and You Rang, M'Lord?



He also worked with Jeremy Lloyd on shows including Are You Being Served? 'Allo 'Allo and Grace and Favour.



Ian Lavender, who played the put-upon Private Pike in Dad's Army, said Croft was "a lovely, gentle, quiet man".



He said: "A lot of his direction was through nods, winks, and smiles in rehearsal rather than pages of notes and discussions.



"He was a great believer in gently nudging you into doing what he wanted you to do.



"He was the perfect person to teach me the ropes. But I had a shock later, because I assumed that everyone would be like that.



"He was very content with what he was doing. There are not many people who can see something they made 40 years ago still pulling in audiences in their millions."



Melvyn Hayes, who starred in It Ain't Half Hot Mum, said Croft was "a genius".



He said: "I remember doing the (It Ain't Half Hot Mum) pilot and he'd say 'just play it as we rehearsed it. If it dies on its arse it's my fault and Jimmy's (Perry)'.



"All actors get an idea and say 'can I try this, can I try that'. He'd say 'it's very funny but save it for panto'."



Hayes added: "He was a joy to work with. He was an actors' director. He was someone you could talk to and who inspired you.



"He based his writing on truth. He had a great innings and was very successful at everything he touched. Dad's Army is always on, somewhere in the world."



Ruth Madoc, who played yellow coat Gladys Pugh in the holiday camp sitcom Hi-De-Hi!, said she would remember him with "great, great affection and great awe".



She added: "I don't think we will ever see his like again.



"Light entertainment has moved on from when he wrote, but my goodness me wasn't he the father of so much that became indelible in the psyche of the great British public - those blockbuster shows like Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Hi-De-Hi.



"He was a circumspect man. He stood back and watched, there was a quietness about David but he was a paternal figure.



"There are so many people, alive and dead, and not just actors, who owed him a great deal for letting us be in his wonderful shows."



Former head of comedy at the BBC Jon Plowman said the world was "a less funny place for his going".



He said: "David was quite simply a genius who invented a whole genre of comedy that was all his own - mostly from his own experience. He wrote so much of the great comedy from the last 30 or 40 years, always impeccably cast with an ensemble of great character actors."



Croft was born into showbusiness. His parents were both actors and he appeared in a cinema advert as a child, before landing a small part in a 1939 film of Goodbye, Mr Chips.



But the war intervened and a film career was put on hold while he served in the Royal Artillery, eventually rising to the rank of Major.



His wartime experience provided him with material and he returned to the era for three of his biggest shows - 'Allo 'Allo was set in Nazi-occupied France, It Ain't Half Hot Mum followed the adventures of an Army concert party in India and Burma and most famously Dad's Army centred on a Home Guard platoon in the fictional seaside town of Walmington-On-Sea.



The show ran for 80 episodes over nine years from 1968 to 1977 and starred a cast including Arthur Lowe as pompous bank manager Captain Mainwaring and Clive Dunn as old soldier Lance Corporal Jones.



It spawned a full length feature film, a radio series and a stage show, attracted millions of viewers and is still regularly repeated.



Croft, who was awarded the OBE in 1978, is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren.











PA

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