I couldn’t let the death of the great and hilarious David Croft pass without marking his life here. You don’t have to be English, but it helps, to appreciate his very particular form of humour that kept people laughing for well over forty years when he and his writing partners, Jimmy Perry and Jeremy Lloyd, created British television’s funniest situation comedies.
If you have never seen any of their shows then take a quick look at these clips – they are a record of a great comic talent who took mid-Twentieth century England as his theme and dared to laugh at the Second World War, The British Empire and post-war Britain in the 1950s and 60s as represented by a chaotically unglamourous holiday camp and a seedy department store. David Croft had a highly developed sense of the silly as well as an affection for silly people who were unaware of their own silliness – they were always somehow, less dangerous and more human then seriously sensible people.
So, let’s take another look at the wonderfully inane self-mockery of Dad’s Army (1968-1977) where little England is defended against the dangers of a German invasion by the ditheringly incompetent home guard.
Here is life in the ridiculously camp and pretentious 1960s department store with a clip from Are You Being Served? (1972-1985)
It was the Second World War again with ‘Allo ‘Allo! (1982-1992) in this dangerously hilarious comedy about the German occupation of Belgium which was really a comedy about language.
The British in India were represented by a particularly silly troop of army entertainers in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (1974-1981)
and 1950’s England is affectionately parodied by life in a crumbling Holiday Camp with Hi-de-Hi (1980-1988)
David Croft re-wrote English history in the second half of the 20th Century as a delightful and innocent romp. It is difficult, at times, not to wish that modern UK had retained some of this down-at-heel, amateurish, charm. We are all too serious now.