There can be no doubt that for the majority of the 60s, 70s and 80s, David Croft was behind some of the best comedy that was ever shown on British TV. Some of the catchphrases injected into his work have become part of the common vernacular. You can’t say “are you free” to someone without the obligatory, “I’m free!” being called back in response. You cannot talk about the French resistance without warning someone you will “only say this once”, and you cannot think of the home guard without wanting to call someone a “stupid boy”.
I would like to take some time to plunder his canon and celebrate the sheer brilliance that was contained within. Ladies and gentlemen, we present the complete works of David Croft.
With Jimmy Perry:
Dad’s Army (1968 until 1977)
Considered by many to be one of the best sitcoms ever made, and rightly so. As sitcom ideas go it is a genius one: The Home Guard during World War II in a sleepy seaside town. An idea full to the brim with comic potential and Croft and Perry left no stone unturned. Majestic comedy writing and performing. The dictionary definition of a classic comedy.
It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (1974 until 1981)
While it can be argued that the casting of Michael Bates as an Indian was not perhaps politically correct (and that is putting it very mildly), there is no doubt that this was a superb comedy. It Aint Half Hot Mum was the story of a concert party in India during World War II. A classic British farce in every sense and a concept that was made for the stage. The show made a massive star of Windsor Davies (who was brilliant) and is rightly considered a classic.
Hi-de-Hi! (1980 until 1988)
A sitcom set in a holiday camp in the 1950s where the camp entertainment manager is a Cambridge professor, disillusioned with university life. Hi-de-Hi was another massive hit with a cast that knocked the giddy script out of the park.
It should also be remembered that without Hi-de-Hi we wouldn’t have had this:
You Rang, M’Lord? (1988 until 1993)
While not everybody’s cup of tea, You Rang, M’Lord was still full of the same befuddled characters, farcical situations and camp silliness of previous Croft and Perry sitcoms. It had a fantastic character in Teddy Meldrum and a superb theme tune performed by Bob Monkhouse.
Written with Jeremy Lloyd:
Are You Being Served? (1972 until 1985)
When people speak of Are You Being Served, they always mention the “pussy” jokes and “I’m free” and dismiss it as old fashioned and puerile. The truth is, Are You Being Served was a tremendous farce and had some wonderful dialogue (and was also old fashioned and puerile). Mr. Lucas (Trevor Bannister)channelled Tony Hancock and the wonderful “Young” Mr. Grace (the joke being that he was extremely old) was always on hand to raise a laugh.
‘Allo ‘Allo! (1982 until 1992)
Silly, puerile, ridiculous at times and highly farcical, but there is no doubt that even the hardest cynic would struggle not to laugh during each and every episode of Allo Allo’s ten year (4 years longer than the actual war) run. Yes it became it’s own repeat show and yes, as with many Croft TV series, it went on far too long and recast dead actors, but at its peak it was hilarious TV.
Grace and Favour (1992 until 1993)
An ill-conceived spin off from Are You Being Served. It failed in much the same way Green, Green Grass mysteriously suceeded, taking our characters out of their usual surroundings and dumping them on a farm. It was pretty terrible.
Written with Richard Spendlove:
Oh, Doctor Beeching (1995 until 1997)
A nice try, but the momentum that had built up with hit after hit in the 1980s had well and truly deserted this show. It felt like a show out of time that had crash landed into 1995 via a time hole. It suffered with very tame situations and gentle humour. The casting was nice and some of the episodes were mildly amusing, but it was always really an experiement that failed.
Originally posted 2013-04-20 10:59:05. Republished by Blog Post Promoter