In 2008 the Special Award honoured legendary double act and sitcom supremos, David Croft and Jimmy Perry.
Croft and Perry’s award-winning record reaches back to the birth of Dad’s Army— which ran for nine years from 1968— and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (1974-81), before viewers laughed again with Hi-De-Hi! for eight years in the 80s. Their last tour de force, You Rang M’Lord?, was aired from 1988-93, when they enjoyed their final small screen credit.
We don't write funny lines. We always had funny people to say them - David Croft
There can be no doubt the duo deserve the Special Award presented to them at the British Academy Television Craft Awards in 2008. For everyone associated with TV, especially TV Comedy, they are right up there in the pantheon of great writers for their tremendous output and quality.
A Career in Comedy
It was ex-actor and stage manager Perry who came up with the idea for the hapless but loveable Dad’s Army brigade, through his spell in the Home Guard at Watford. Pointing to his lack of previous writing experience, it was Michael Mills, head of BBC Comedy, who suggested that Croft write the series with him. He also re-named Perry’s brainwave, originally known as The Fighting Tigers, to the much more memorable Dad’s Army.
The duo worked extremely well together, partly because their golden scripts almost always drew heavily on personal experience. When Perry was called up and sent to Burma to perform with a concert party unit, he had the perfect background for It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.
I only wrote to put food on the table. But I'm proud of what we have done - Jimmy Perry
Demobbed, Perry trained at RADA while spending holidays working as a Butlin’s Redcoat in Yorkshire, a job which later spawned Hi-De-Hi!. His grandfather just happened to be butler to the naval chief Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane at the latter’s grand Mayfair home. Welcome to You Rang, M’Lord?
Croft also went on to partner Jeremy Lloyd to create the department store romp Are You Being Served? and the iconic wartime farce ‘Allo,‘Allo!. His last TV series Oh, Doctor Beeching!, was another nostalgia based saga which he produced and wrote with Richard Spendlove.
As producers, Croft & Perry’s trademark was to signal the end of an episode with the caption "You have been watching", followed by vignettes of the main cast. The British public are sure to be watching the work of Croft and Perry for many years to come.
(*)Croft and Perry speaking to BAFTA in March 2008