David Croft comes from theatrical stock, his mother was actress Annie Croft and his father Reginald had a successful Hollywood career as a radio actor. He was born in Dorset in 1922 and was soon involved in show business himself. Whilst still in his teens, however, his budding career was interrupted by World War II and, for five years, Croft served in the army in North Africa, India and Singapore – experience that was to prove invaluable in his later writing career. He eventually rose to the rank of major but, on the outbreak of peace, was soon back in Civvy Street and back in show business. After spending time working as an actor and a singer, Croft moved into producing for television, where he worked with famous names such as Frankie Howerd,, Dick Emery and Benny Hill. His wife Ann also acted as his agent , and it was she who, in 1964, introduced her husband to an actor called Jimmy Perry.
Croft both produced and directed most of the programmes he created with Jimmy Perry DAD’S ARMY, IT AIN’T HALF HOT MUM and HI DE HI. As well as his collaborations with Jimmy Perry, he also worked with writer Jeremy Lloyd, who had a chequered career including not only writing for, but also appearing in the American cult show of the late 1960s ROWAN AND MARTIN’S LAUGH-IN. Together they produced what subsequently proved to be one of Britain’s most successful comedy exports ARE YOU BEING SERVED? So popular was the series that they followed it up with a sequel, GRACE AND FAVOUR. Their next collaboration ‘ALLO ‘ALLO cemented their reputation permanently. The pilot for the series was made on 11 September 1982, four days after David Croft had officially retired from the BBC at the age of 60! The favourable reaction of that first studio audience was a portent of things to come – the series ran for nine years and 85 episodes.
By the 1990s and into his seventies, David Croft completed a long association with the BBC with another Croft and Perry comedy hit YOU RANG M’LORD. OH, DR BEECHING! , a collaboration with Richard Spendlove, was his last piece for them in 1998. In 2004 he published his autobiography YOU HAVE BEEN WATCHING.
David Croft and Jimmy Perry were both awarded the OBE in 1978 for services to television. David was also given the highest honour in the world of television when, at the 1982 BAFTA Awards ceremony, he was presented with the Desmond Davis Award. This was followed by a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Royal Television Society.