David Croftís Biography
David Croft was born on 7th September 1922 as David John Sharland, son to the infamous stage actress Annie Croft and Reginald Sharland, a successful radio actor in Hollywood. Born into the world of show business it was inevitable that David would become intertwined in the theatrical scene, even as early as 7 years old, when he appeared in a cinema commercial. Later down the line at the young age of 17, David landed his first role as Perkins in Goodbye, Mr. Chips. This was regarded as the beginning, middle and end of his film career.
Soon to follow was Davidís enrolment into the army in 1942. After graduating from Sandhurst as an Officer; David served in the Royal Artillery for two and a half years in England and North Africa he was then commissioned and served in India and Singapore where he rose to the rank of Major. As soon as he was de-mobbed in 1947 he followed in his parents' footsteps. It was those years that later gave David the material for classic comedies such as Dadís Army, Ainít Half Hot Mum and ĎAllo ĎAllo.
The next big turning point for David was meeting Freddie Carpenter who produced many pantomimes for Howard & Wyndham across the UK. This lead to David writing many scripts such as Aladdin, Goldilocks, The Three Bears, Cinderella, Humpty Dumpty and Babes in the Wood. Continuing to make a living through writing, through his lifelong friend, composer/conductor, Cyril Ornadel, David met Fiona Bentley. Fiona managed to obtain the licenses to adapt and musicalise a number of Beatrix Potter classics. Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck to name just a few. Cyril wrote the music and David wrote the scripts and lyrics. The cast on these records included actors as diverse as Cicely Courtnedge and Vivien Leigh!
With the arrival of independent television in 1955, David joined Associated Rediffusion as Head of the Light Entertainment Script Department. He then moved to Newcastle to work on the 1959 launch of Tyne Tees Television, where he remained for a short period as a producer, director and writer, before eventually joining the BBC. In his early days there, he produced and often directed an extraordinary array of successful comedies; The Benny Hill Show, Steptoe and Son, Hugh and I, Up Pompeii and Beggar My Neighbour, to name just a few. It was Beggar my Neighbour which caused him to cross paths with Jimmy Perry for the first time. In fact, it was Ann Callender, the theatrical agent, (who was also Davidís wife!), who introduced them to one another.
This partnership turned out to be one of British television's most successful writing duos. Together they wrote Dadís Army, It Ainít Half Hot Mum, Hi-De-Hi and You Rang, MíLord? Dadís Army is still showing on television today, forty years after its original transmission! One of the strengths of this remarkable partnership was the autobiographical nature of their shows, which proved to be the foundation of the Croft/Perry success. Davidís Ďhitsí continued when he joined forces with Jeremy Lloyd, producing and writing shows such as Are You Being Served? ĎAllo ĎAllo, Grace and Favour, Come Back Mrs Noah and, Oh Happy Band. Davidís final television series before retiring from the BBC was Oh Doctor Beeching another nostalgia-based comedy, this time set in a 1960s rural railway station; David produced and co-wrote this series with Richard Spendlove, a hugely popular radio broadcaster.
David has also produced and directed television in Australia for Channel 7 and in Los Angeles for CBS and Paramount. In 1978 he was awarded the O.B.E. for services to television, and in 1982 the Desmond Davies award for his outstanding contribution to the industry.
Name: David John Croft
Dadís Army (1968-1977)
Are You Being Served? (1972-1985)
'Allo 'Allo (1982-1992)
It Aint Half Hot Mum (1974-1981)
You Rang MíLord? (1988-1993)
Oh Doctor Beeching! (1995-1997)
Grace & Favour (1992-1993)
Come Back Mrs Noah (1978-1978)