David Croft remains one of the most influential figures in British television comedy ever. He has been responsible for at least six classic television comedy creations and contributed to many many more.
David was born David John Sharland in Poole, Dorset on 7th September 1922, the son of variety performers Anne and Reginald Sharland. Although his parents split and his father went to America to become a successful radio artist, David found himself negotiating percentage deals for his mother with theatre managers whilst still in his teens.
World War II saw him briefly act as an ARP Warden before entering military service properly where he found himself in the Far East and part of the campaign against the Japanese. He was asked to stay on with the army but showbusiness called once more and David returned to the UK to try his luck as an actor and singer. A stint as a producer at Tyne Tees TV led to a move to the BBC where his writing and producing skills saw him assigned to This Is Your Life initially before moving into the field of comedy with Benny Hill, Dick Emery, Frankie Howerd and for brief spell Steptoe & Son.
David also wrote and produced many stage shows and spent some time working for Billy Butlin putting in production shows in his holiday camps around the UK.
On televisionDavid produced the hit series Hugh and I with Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd and Beggar My Neighbour with Reg Varney and Peter Jones. It was on the latter that he employed an actor called Jimmy Perry who happened to show him a script he was working on about the Home Guard during the war.
Dad's Army became the catalyst for a string of Croft classics with Perry. There followed It Ain't Half Hot Mum (1973-81), Hi-de-Hi! (1980-88) and You Rang, M'Lord ? (1988-93)
A second regular writing partnership with another actor come writer Jeremy Lloyd produced Are You Being Served ? (1972-85), Come Back Mrs. Noah (1977), Oh Happy Band (1980), 'Allo 'Allo (1982-92), Grace & Favour (1992-93) and Which Way To The War (1994).
Croft also masterminded stage versions of several of his hit shows namely Dad's Army (1975, West End and tour), It Ain't Half Hot Mum (Bournemouth 1979, Scarborough 1982 and tour), Are You Being Served ? (Blackpool, 1976) and Hi-de-Hi! (1983 Bournemouth and West End, Blackpool 1984) and most successfully 'Allo 'Allo which originally opened in 1986 at the Prince of Wales Theatre before transferring to the London Palladium. It has since played all over the world. Movie versions of Dad's Army (1972) and Are You Being Served ? (1977) were also made.
David's final contribution to BBC Comedy was Oh Doctor Beeching!, written with Richard Spendlove, which had a short lived run from 1995-97. In 2008 Croft and Lloyd teamed up once more when David's production company produced a pilot episode of Here Comes The Queen starring Ian Lavender, Wendy Richard, Les Dennis and Philip Madoc.
Awarded an OBE in 1977 and the Lifetime Achievement at the British Comedy Awards together with a BAFTA Fellowship, David is unrivalled in his profilic output as a writer and producer of hit television comedies.
David's autobiography You Have Been Watching was published in 2004.