A family statement called him a “truly great man who will be missed by all who had the great fortune of knowing and loving him.” It Ain’t Half Hot Mum actor Melvyn Hayes, called Croft a “genius” and said it was “a privilege to work with” him.
“There were no swear words in his shows. His programmes were the kind of thing you could sit in front of the TV and watch with your grandmother and grandchildren,” he said.
Croft was awarded an OBE in 1978 for services to television. In 1998 he received a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy Awards.
Croft was born as David John Sharland to stage actress Annie Croft and Reginald Sharland, a successful Hollywood radio actor.
He enlisted in the army during World War II, which was to provide some of his later comic inspiration for Dad’s Army and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.
Dad’s Army was the first of his series to come to TV screens, in 1968, and marked the start of his fruitful and long-lived comic partnership with Jimmy Perry.
The BBC initially had misgivings about the concept – which followed the fortunes of a Home Guard platoon, the last line of defence should the Germans have invaded Britain during World War II.
But the affection with which the characters were treated soon endeared the show to audiences and corporate bosses alike.
The series went on to gain the creative partnership a trio of awards from the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain in 1969-71.
More than 40 years after it was first screened, the sitcom is still being shown.
Ian Lavender, who played the hapless Private Pike in the series said Croft was “a great comic writer”.
“He just knew what tickled people, what made people smile.”
“I have never come across anyone in the Home Guard who said Dad’s Army was a disgrace.”
“They say they all had a Mainwaring in their platoon. We were laughing with them, not at them.”
Newswarped salutes David Croft for sharing his talent with the world. Listen carefully I will say this only once – “He was a truly great comic writer”.