David Croft and Jimmy Perry, one of TV's most successful comedy writing duos, talk about their lives, their work and what makes them laugh.
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# Meet the gang cos the boys are here
# The boys to entertain you
# With music and laughter to help you on your way
# To raising the rafters with a hey, hey, hey
# With songs, and sketches, and jokes old and new
# With us about you won't feel blue
# So, meet the gang cos the boys are here
# The boys to entertain you. #
Don't forget to be early for dinner
as Fred Larkin, our cordon BLEW cook, is in an Italian mood.
And he's conjured up for you spaghetti bolognaise and chips.
I think what Jimmy and David do,
is bring extraordinarily opposing views of comedy and blend it together perfectly.
Each contributes his gift, but it's seamless you can't see who does what.
Oh dear! How sad! Never mind!
You've got two people, an extrovert and an introvert.
When their pens cross, there's a spark.
-OPERATOR: Number, please?
-I've forgotten the number.
-You stupid boy!
It's Walmington-on-Sea... Just a moment.
In 1968, actor Jimmy Perry approached BBC comedy producer David Croft
with an idea for a sitcom about the Home Guard.
# Mr Brown goes off to town on the 8.21... #
I took it to Michael Mills who was a wonderful head of department.
When you took anything to him, he immediately saw the potential the sky was the limit.
He liked it and thought it would go,
and said, "Jimmy's not written much for TV, why don't you collaborate?"
# ..But he comes home each evening and he's ready with his gun... #
So began one of TV's most successful writing partnerships,
made unique by Croft also producing and directing the shows.
AIR RAID WARNING
Thank you, Mr Wilson. There please.
That's a reasonable field of fire. It covers most of the High Street.
Yes, we can happily say that Jerry parachutists will be dead as mutton,
from Stead and Simpson's to Timothy Whites.
We'd be clear to the Pavilion if that woman would move.
We wrote this show together, David and I, and it became a huge success.
I always thought it was a good idea, but it totally overwhelmed me.
And I think the secret was that everything was right.
One of those rare things the cast, the time and the subject were right.
NEWSREEL: When Hitler is up against the British, it's a different story.
They fight all the way, giving as good as they get.
With the pilot, the BBC hierarchy were very worried. They thought we were mocking England's finest hour.
'We all have a part to play. Every effort is made to confuse the enemy.'
'Fortunately Michael Mills and people in the business said,
'"It's a great idea, go ahead."
Jim wrote the signature tunes. He has a super, naive way of doing something right for the period.
I was more complicated and correct and not so good, so he did it.
And we arranged for Bud Flanagan to record it.
And we came down to the Riverside Studios, I opened the door,
and I heard for the very first time,
# Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler?
# If you think we're on the run... #
I had a shiver up my spine to think that as a kid, I'd go to The Palladium to see Flanagan and Allen,
'and I had written a song that my great hero, Bud Flanagan, was now singing.'
And when he'd finished, he said, "Well, goodbye." He shook hands and he walked down the long corridor.
That was the last I saw of him. Weeks later he died.
# If you think old England's done. #
I'd been an air-raid warden at the age of 17 at the start of the war.
-What is it, warden?
-You gonna be long?
I don't know. I've got something to say to the men. I don't...
Nothing like Hodges, no.
-Hodges, help Pike carry me.
-I will not. I'm keeping out of it.
-I'm ordering you to carry me.
-Shoot him, Mr Mainwaring, go on!
I was in the Home Guard at 15.
-What is it, Frank?
-Have you seen Mr Snugley?
-Mr Snugley, my teddy.
-No, I haven't.
Jimmy came over and said, "You do know you're playing me, don't you?"
-Mum said she'd put him in.
-I haven't got him.
He was a young runner and had much in common with Pike.
-Pike, take off your tunic.
Because you're wet already.
Hang on! We're underground. If that keeps pouring in, we'll all drown. Supposing we can't stop it!
There's no such word as can't! Get in there, boy, wrap it round.
-Go on, son! Keep it up!
-If there's encouraging to be done, I'll do it.
The glory of Croft and Perry's work, is that it's always ensemble.
There's a glorious collection of characters.
They scarcely need a line to establish themselves. Laurie only has to say...
He's doomed, doomed!
..and we know what will come. One raise of an eyebrow from Walker, and we know...
Any time you need something, tip me the wink.
A hand from Godfrey he wants a pee.
-Do you think I might... >
-If you want to be excused, it's impossible.
I was 10 when I saw Dad's Army and I liked Clive Dunn.
'When I was 15 or 16, I was with an old soldier.'
He'd fought in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898.
He said, "I was a lance corporal in the Rifle Brigade." He described the battle.
Fuzzy-wuzzies they were the boys. At you with a knife and zip you open!
"Tell you what," he said. "Get the cold steel, they don't like it up 'em!"
-They don't like it up 'em, you see, sir. They don't...
-Get him a chair.
'It was an expression I didn't want to use.'
I felt an audience might be offended by "They don't like it up 'em."
But they loved it! They love anything rude, God bless 'em!
Everyone at school was going, "Don't panic, Mr Mainwaring!" I watched and there he was.
Don't panic! We're in France!
Don't panic! Don't panic! Don't panic!
When I write a series, I think what catchphrases will get the kids.
Permission to speak, sir.
And that's sort of from a vague memory of things like Dad's Army
"Don't panic!", "Permission to speak, sir", "Uncle Arthur", "Stupid boy."
You stupid boy!
I bet he didn't say "stupid boy" as often as we think.
The cutaways to that dry, dry Arthur Lowe were a catchphrase in itself.
An essential part of their technique is the casting of each character
with an actor so ideal you can't imagine anyone else.
Damn revolving doors!
Arthur Lowe was a wonderful man
but there's no doubt he had a degree of the same pomposity Mainwaring had.
-Come over here. Look.
-Look at this it's full of chocolate.
-That's a lucky stroke.
-What are you doing?
-I'm going to break the glass to get them out.
-Break the glass?!
-Have you lost your senses?
We're not savages, you know!
We're well-trained British army and sportsmen!
We're not Nazis! That's what they'd do.
Arthur was very like Mainwaring. We wrote them more and more towards their own personalities
it wasn't them bringing themselves to the characters.
When you have the actors you can adapt a scene to how they speak, act and react.
I didn't give you permission to sit, did I?
-You are a soldier, you know!
-Of course. Yes.
-I am an officer.
-You're supposed to be an NCO.
"Cool" is celebrated in US comedy.
If you look at Happy Days, which is a great show, a good sitcom,
the funniest character is the coolest character.
He checks the mirror and it's fine there's nothing to add.
If you look at Mainwaring or Fawlty or Frank Spencer or Steptoe and Son,
these are characters who look in the mirror and there's everything to add.
-I shouldn't have trusted that smarmy Captain Stewart!
-He's got a job to do.
You stick up for him you went to public school.
I can't help feeling you've got a chip on your shoulder about that.
I tell you what is on my shoulder three pips and don't you forget it!
I never liked Arthur Lowe in it he was grumpy and Wilson was boring.
And now they make the show for me, that whole relationship between them.
"Line the men up, Wilson!" "Yes, sir. Gentlemen, if you'd be so kind..."
Good evening to you all. How awfully nice...
Never mind that!
My favourite character was Sergeant Wilson. I loved the old English gent,
but he had such a hint of rebellion.
Counter-agents, as you probably...
Wilson. What are you doing?
I thought as it was such a beautiful day, while you were chatting over there,
I'd take advantage of this glorious sun and try and get a bit of a tan.
Mum said he was peaky.
It was never known whether John Le Mesurier was sleeping with Mrs Pike.
We never knew, you know.
It was just that he used to go for a coffee. She'd say, "What time will you be in for cocoa tonight, Arthur?"
No mention of anything else people just imagined.
Will you be round later for your usual? Maybe.
We inferred that Pike was Wilson's illegitimate son, and as far as I'm concerned, he was.
-I can't come, I'm blowing up a tank.
You'll have to blow it up tomorrow!
Arthur! I'm surprised! You know when he goes to bed.
In this conservative seaside town,
the chief clerk at the bank a prominent member of the community lives unmarried with a woman.
I don't think it's innocent it's dealt with with wonderful simplicity,
'and a wonderful sense of that's how life is.'
Mavis, what a surprise. Isn't it?
Yes, I, I... Here we are, G & T. And don't get all Nellie Dean like last week.
Excuse me, mate. Oh, cor blimey!
One of the cleverest strokes was Elizabeth Mainwaring's wife
who we saw once as a bulge in the top bunk.
Arthur was in the lower bunk at the air-raid shelter and this great big bottom was above. Wonderful!
Are you awake, Elizabeth?
She was as great an unseen enemy as the Nazi hordes.
Everyone knows he had an awful home life. It was brilliant non-writing.
Elizabeth will be delighted when I take that home.
I wonder where on earth the woman... Hello, Elizabeth?
On the phone to this dreadful wife, you felt so sorry for this man.
I might have a little surprise for you tonight.
No, no, I've bought...
The important thing with any sitcom is reality you believe in the characters and the situation is real.
- We're going to lift the bomb off you.
-Shouldn't you wait for Capt Rogers?
No, he's back at HQ there's no time to lose.
It's worth a try.
-Here's your coffee, Mr Mainwaring.
It's the wrong one, Godfrey.
I think the other one's wrong too, then.
The sense that universal things happen beyond this level of ordinary life makes outstanding comedy.
GERMAN ACCENT: How dare you compare our glorious leader vith zat non-Aryan clown?
I am making notes, Captain.
And your name...vill go on ze list.
And when we win ze war, you vill be brought to account.
-You're not going to win this war.
-Oh yes, we are.
-Oh, no you're not.
-Oh yes, we are!
Pike comes out with this line, # Whistle while you work
-Hitler is a twerp he's half barmy
# So's his army, whistle while you work. #
The officer says, "Vot's your name?" and Mainwaring goes,
-Don't tell him, Pike.
It's like Alan Ayckbourn. Croft and Perry's Dad's Army is as great as any light comedy written for theatre.
I would go so far as to compare Dad's Army with the work of Dickens or Shakespeare.
One thinks of the rich cast of comic characters in Dickens' novels.
In a way it's seen as a cosy view of England in the war,
but the setting isn't important it's a gang show.
# Meet the gang cos the boys are here
# The boys to entertain you
# With music and laughter to help you on your way
# To raising the rafters with a hey, hey, hey... #
The next thing was the army. We both went to India.
I was in Entertainments and Jimmy ran a Royal Artillary concert party.
Our signature tune used to be
# Getting around and going places, getting around to show our faces
# Getting around we're mental cases, Yes, for getting around
# From Bangalore to Singapore, From Rangoon to Bombay
# And if you really liked our show, We'll come again another day. #
Basically, it was my adventures doing this ridiculous concert party.
Jimmy ran the concert party for five years the real one and he was a mixture,
I think, of my character he won't admit it...
Imagine you're sweating champagne!
..and the one George Layton did.
One, two, three, four... # I'm... #
And that series comes nearer to truth than anything we've done.
'There was such a place as Deolali, the Indians are right, it's spot on.'
Oh, my Godfathers! What hot day it is! So dusty and dry!
Michael Bates, who'd played a part like this before, was born in India, was an Indian citizen, as it were.
His father was district commissioner at Jaintia. He spoke fluent Urdu,
and I said, "David, we have found our leading part."
SINGS IN URDU
Now, sahib, this eye is man's eyes, this eye is woman's eyes,
and, sahib, their eyes meet.
And he had a servant of whom they were very fond and still corresponding,
and he based the character of Ranghi Ram on that servant.
-I will whiten the stones.
-Yes! It is very infra dig for man like you to do work like this.
Think of your beautiful hands and let me do the infra digging.
Where is that damn boy!
There was an amount of disquiet about Michael Bates being cast.
When I first heard, I was very upset.
Oh, everything has gone wrong this morning.
It is what we British say, "Being one of those days."
Here's the first good part written for an Asian, and it goes to an English actor.
I will make him a uniform of such enchantment,
-he'll be bowled over with ecstasy.
-I want him to be pleased as well.
I have this chip on my shoulder, but there's no way it could have been played by anybody but Michael Bates.
He was just wonderful in the part.
I have a wizard wheeze! Gloria will do the stripping and the teasing.
I shall do no such thing!
It is the only way, like this.
I'm not saying we couldn't play it. I'm not saying we wouldn't get the laughs but we wouldn't get as many.
I hope Sergeant Major sahib is in good mood.
-Is Sergeant Major sahib in good mood?
-I had not time to find out.
The British soldier was quite arrogant because we were top dog those days.
I think that attitude was there and some Indians were very anti-British.
Ah! Bapaty bap!
British piggies go home!
You must portray things as they were then, which was 1946.
It's no good pretending it didn't happen it did. We ruled India for 200 years.
Never heard such impertinence, sir.
Here we are defending their country from the Japanese,
how do they repay us? March by every night shouting, "Quit India." Base ingratitude!
Quit India?! I should bloody cocoa!
'Windsor Davies was so sensational.'
You can see the value of going for lines that make you laugh,
because that IS what the man would say.
With respect, sir...
you should have consulted me before promoting Beaumont to bombardier.
-What are your objections?
-He is a poof, sir!
They'd say, "It's not natural! A man poncing about on stage in make-up is not normal. You are not normal!"
-You is a load of poofs!
-A load of poofs!
-"We are a bunch of poofs!"
We are a load of poofs! A load of poofs! A load of poofs!
It really happened.
Excuse me, but when do you take salt tablets?
I've had more salt tablets than you have had hot dinners! I'll show you.
I'll show you, now.
'The Sergeant Major was a key piece of casting.'
We saw quite a few people about that part before we placed him.
'Windsor really wanted that part.'
And he did the definitive, and I've seen all the sergeant majors and I think he did the definitive version.
Stop scratching yourself!
I can't help it, I've got prickly heat, I'm covered in little bumps.
As far as I am concerned you is one big little bump!
This great bully of a man had been set up so beautifully by Windsor. He was just so stunning in that part.
You is even beginning to look like soldiers.
He was funny on his own. He didn't need words to make him funny.
Windsor's character had no artistic feeling at all about the concert party.
You can rely on me, Sergeant Major.
The only thing I can rely on you for, Bombardier, is to ponce about.
He hated these fellas dressing up as women.
# A pretty girl La-la-la-la-la-la-la
# Is like a melody La-la-la-la-la-la-la... #
Because of the complete lack of female soldiers, all those shows had men playing the girls parts.
# A pretty girl is just like a pretty tune. #
Really rather good! First class! First class.
Jimmy said I was like the colonel at Deolali or wherever it was.
Very like him, so they didn't ask for anything particular,
except to be devoted to the concert party.
I can't think putting me in the show will help a lot, sir.
Ashwood, you have great style.
You do one of the best James Cagney I've seen. I'd like you to do it.
I can't. I'd feel a fool. - Do it! That is an order!
Very well, sir.
POSH VOICE: You dirty rat.
You dirty rat, you.
Jimmy described my character as the silly arse I'd always played.
"We don't want anything different, just do what you've been doing."
There's nothing else for it. Things are desperate. We'll have to break into the cocktail snacks.
Surely not! I'm afraid so.
There's maraschino cherries, a tin of football wafers and a bottle of gherkins.
What if someone drops in for drinks?
There were many like Ashwood. Less, and the war might have ended sooner.
Parkins, tell the Colonel we're out of petrol
and we're on the road by... Look out!
Are you mad?! What did you do that for?
There was a scorpion on it it was just going to bite you.
David knew just what he wanted. He didn't mess about, rather like Gerald Thomas doing the Carry On's.
We'd do six episodes in ten days.
First it was done in Norfolk.
We began to realise that vegetation there is mostly conifer,
which is not good for jungles, so we moved and went to Farnham,
where most of the vegetation is much better.
We'd manufacture the jungle by hanging up some string and dangling bits of jungle from the string.
Don't drop it!
We were determined... When things are done in the tropics, no-one's grubby.
People with immaculate tunics and not a drop of sweat.
There's the jeep, sir.
Where are they?
The sweat was important because when you're in the jungle, you're wringing wet.
Oh, it's a dashed nuisance!
I'm writing to my wife, but the sweat drips off my face smudging the ink. I'll have to start again.
Put "PS: I miss you", she'll think it's tears.
Before going on, some pretty make-up girl sprayed you with glycerine,
from head to foot practically, and it worked it looked marvellous.
HEWLETT: It was like a club.
We met every September and all got together for the 12 weeks.
It was just lovely.
We enjoyed working with each other.
We came to a crisis with It Ain't Half Hot Mum when Michael Bates got cancer.
And we thought it was possible he would die before the next series,
and I couldn't bear to do the show with him not there in that same position outside the hut.
And so we moved it, we moved it to Burma.
Michael Bates was surviving, so we wrote him into it.
I just heard Gloria sahib say that we might be going back to Deolali.
Heavenly joy, I will see my wife again.
And whoever of my children are around.
The amazing thing was that towards the end he'd be in great pain,
and they'd say, "Action!" and the pain would go completely from his face.
To see the wisps of smoke rising from the cow dung fires.
Such lovely perfume. It brings tears to my eyes to think of it.
And at the end it'd come back again.
And he soldiered on in great pain through that series. I think he died two weeks after we finished.
It was very sad.
-Burn this flag.
-Oh please, Sergeant Major, do not ask me such a thing.
-BURN THIS FLAG!
-Sahib, I have no matches.
-Whose side are you on?
-Depends on who I'm talking to at the time, Sergeant Major, sahib.
It wasn't the best thing that David and I did, but it was the funniest.
I don't think It Ain't Half Hot Mum was as funny as Dad's Army,
but it was superb in many ways and it would be terrible
if somebody is brilliant enough to create a masterpiece and few do
for that masterpiece then to be used against them.
Joseph Heller, I think brilliantly, put it wonderfully when he said,
"People often say to me I haven't since Catch 22 written as good a novel." And I say, "Well, who has?"
# If you're feeling lonely And getting in a stew... #
We'd go to the beach and get to this fence and I'd go, "What's in there?"
"The holiday camp." "Can't we go there?" Dad said, "No!"
# If you got the blues, I got some news
# Join in the fun in your blue suede shoes
# Enjoy the holiday rock The holiday rock
# The holi-holi-hi-di-hi holiday rock
# Hi-di-hi-di-hi ho-di-ho-di-ho
# Go, go, go to the holiday rock. #
I came back from the war and went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art,
and in the summer holidays I'd work at Butlins as a Redcoat.
-Jimmy was Spike.
-In holidays from RADA he used to be a Redcoat.
I got £10 a week and cakes.
We were both associated with Butlins.
Jimmy was like Hitler the command he had over those campers was astonishing.
I produced the shows in theatres in several camps
so we both knew the world of holiday camps well.
# Tra-la-la-la-la Tra-la-la-la-li
# All good fun, And jolly good company. Hurray! #
In the last 15 years, the British character has become sour, spiteful, and coarse,
and people looking at these shows see a gentler, nicer, decent...
a better kind of Englishness and they look back with genuine nostalgia.
Now we come to our well-loved event,
a Who Can Stuff The Most Spaghetti Down The Trousers Competition.
Things like Spaghetti Eating and Knobbly Knees Competitions,
we invented much worse ones after that Whose Bum Is It Anyway?
We had some outrageous competitions.
Right, you have three minutes to eat as much cake as you can.
I'm sorry there seems to be...
It's the presence of a Cambridge professor quite out of his element...
-What is it, Ted?
-It's Olly the Octopus.
..and a man who knows all the tricks of the trade, Ted Bovis Paul Shane.
"Get your tentacles off that girl, you naughty octopus!"
Whereupon, Olly turns and squirts him with black ink.
He thinks the man in charge is there because he's a gent.
-Who says, "Get your tentacles off that girl, you naughty octopus!"?
-You'll do a belter!
Jeffrey and Ted's background are chalk and cheese but played with affection for both classes.
-Pies, pies, who wants acustardpie?
-Say it louder!
-Pies, pies, who wants a custard pie?
-I'll have one.
-I think you ought to have one. Shall I give him a pie?
The fish out of water was the thing to latch it onto.
The two absolute talismans of the part
were that he was a capable man in a position he shouldn't have been in,
and also that he had absolutely no public ability at all.
-What do I say?
-After Hi-di-Hi, wait for them to say Ho-di-Ho.
He went on and just SAID, "Hi-di-Hi."
Hello, campers, Hi-di-Hi.
No-one says "Ho-di-Ho" to that they maybe want a drink or a sleeping pill.
Jeffrey can't hear you Hi-di-Hi.
That was essential.
The complete inadequacy of his character,
and also his embarrassment about what was going on around him.
Stop it, you naughty octopus.
Simon Cadell was very inventive, which was always completely realistic.
KNOCK-KNOCK Come in.
-Good morning, Jeffrey.
-Don't forget, the meeting's five minutes earlier.
-I hadn't forgotten.
He's not wearing trousers but he does the zip up.
That was entirely Simon he was inventive in that way,
but it's not something you look for an actor for.
David's rather strict on that sort of thing. You can suggest something and he'll laugh like a drongo.
He used to go, "Ha, ha, HEEE! Ha, ha, HEEE!"
Ha, ha, ha, ha, HEEE!
He'd love it, he'd laugh, then he'd cut it.
Not many actors have contributed.
It's not their fault David and I felt our lines were better.
"First of all, you done a swell job last season.
"But this year you've got to top it.
"And then some... And THEN some!"
It's in his own words of course. It's not...me.
You could never tell who'd done what, but you suspected that Jimmy was the broad sweep, and David the polisher.
You can spot a line. A David gag, or a Jimmy gag. You know the way they think.
Jimmy does all the creation of a scene.
I think Jimmy does all that and David goes BANG at the end.
We've cracked it this is the ultimate pool wheeze.
I'll put it in the programme Mr Fairbrother WHEEZE in the pool!
-Wees in the pool.
-Wees in the pool.
-That was definitely Croft.
-Definitely, yeah. We knew that.
A "wee" joke would probably come from David.
-Jimmy would be, "Oh, no, dear boy, can't do that."
-"Public will go mad, can't do that!"
Jimmy loves Lucie Mabel Attwell. Sorry, darling, to give it all away.
He'd say, "Su, I'm so tired today, I'm going to hide in my flowerpot."
I imagine that I'm climbing into a flowerpot,
and there's nice soft moss in the bottom with a faint soporific smell,
and I curl up in the moss and snuggle down,
and listen to the rain.
But I don't mind because I'm all cosy and warm.
And then I imagine I'm getting... smaller and smaller and smaller.
And then I drop off.
I'll try that tonight.
Gladys had this marvellous look to Jeffrey.
We just said, "Yes, that's it!"
and gave her situations to use it.
She's a thoroughly genuine, warm-hearted, good person...
..and we all love her.
Gladys Pugh, the vamp of the valleys, is marvellous.
Her smouldering desire for Jeffrey and her protectiveness is very well done.
This isn't very cosy, Jeffrey.
Gladys, I gave you Father Bear's bed.
If you think Mother Bear's bed is more comfortable, we can change.
Why don't we put them all together? Then we can snuggle up.
'Gladys was never gonna get Jeffrey Fairbrother.'
She was one of those lovely women that are treated badly.
Ah, Glad, I am sorry, love.
If you ask me, he's making a big mistake.
-He'll never find better than you.
Maybe it's for the best. He's an educated university professor and you're just a girl from the valleys.
I think writers have to think more if they're writing for a woman.
They don't associate a woman with banter and insults and things,
so they have to write a different kind of comedy for them.
-GLADYS SINGS OPERATIC PIECE #
Peggy Ollerenshaw is marvellous constantly auditioning.
# Mac-a-ro-ni, bolognaise and stuff
# Ice cream, you scream, cannot get enough
# It's in your ears and up your nose and in between your little toes
# Stuff it in the saucepan till it grows and grows and grows. #
She had a real enthusiasm for life which she communicated to everybody.
Excuse me, Mr Fairbrother, if one of the girls goes to the BANANAS, there will be a vacancy for a Yellowcoat.
She thinks she's going to be a Yellowcoat.
I don't want to be pushy, but I've done lots for you round the camp... I think I ought to be considered.
This longing to be a Yellowcoat. They played on the sympathy side of Peggy
and they got so much mileage out of that facet.
All I've got is my personality and lots of go, but I'll get there, you'll see!
People like to see comedy where people try their best and just fail.
I just want you to know, I'm not giving up.
I'll keep on trying and I'll be wearing that Yellowcoat one day. You'll see. Hi-di-Hi.
Nearly all the most lovable characters in British sitcom are losers.
Jimmy and David are masters at showing our own frailties on screen.
-What happened? It were a bloody disaster!
-What d'you mean? It can't have been!
-You see these two feet? I died on them tonight.
-What went wrong?
When I got there, it were a lovely room, white tablecloths, silver, the lot.
They had evening dress and polite voices.
They ate them lamb chops with white frills. I thought, "If I can make it here, I can anywhere."
To me, there's nothing more sad than a comic getting old who's never really made it.
I thought, "Hit 'em with a big one," so I told the one about the tarts and the sailor. Nothing!
So I did the vicar in the chemist's.
-The one where he thinks they're balloons?
-That's the one.
Followed by the poof and the bishop picking up the hymn book.
-I'm a failed comic, he's not even started.
-And there's no chance for Spike whatsoever.
I'm Pinocchio and I'm made of wood, but I WOODN'T let that bother you.
Certainly, a Croft-Perry script must have a degree of physical fun,
and they're brilliant at situations which put the teams into sight gags.
I can only see straight ahead. You need a rear-view mirror.
BACK-END OF HORSE: You get plenty of rear view where I am.
Su and I were in a pantomime horse. I took the reins of a real horse as nobody else was about.
It fell in love with me.
'It came nose to nose and started blowing up my false nostrils.'
SPIKE: What am I gonna do with it? PEGGY: Take it to the stables.
And Leslie Dwyer doing so exquisitely a very, very old gag.
Some whisky in one hand, banana in the other.
'He looks at the bottle of whisky, looks at the banana...'
There are certain, good formulas,
and if they're treated with freshness and amuse us, they can be repeated for ever.
When you stop enjoying writing, it's time to finish.
Nobody wants you to, the cast doesn't want you to, the BBC get good figures, but it's time to go.
# Goodnight. #
'It's very sad.'
Actors are very emotional people, they get attached to a programme.
When it ceases, when it stops, it's sad.
-You said you weren't gonna get sentimental.
I was just thinking about the good times we've had round this pool.
The last episode was like... I didn't want it to come.
And I don't think anybody else did, didn't want it to arrive, you know.
Very, very sad.
Even now, when I think about it, it prangs a bit, cos I loved it. You tell him.
The British holiday won't be the same, will it? The wind of change.
You're right there, Spike.
-It's the wind of change.
On our last day of filming, there was a great hurricane.
Trees went all over the chalets and fell in the pool and it was the end of an era we were finishing.
I don't think it ever opened again after that.
It's striking if you look across the range of Croft and Perry's work,
that you can locate it in a precise concept of Englishness.
I was reminded of their work reading Character Of England by Ernest Barker
in which he isolated six qualities of Englishness, all of which applied to their work.
Social cohesion and a hierarchy leading to snobbishness.
Did you enjoy the picture, Sponge? I couldn't see very well.
-We should have got the ninepennies.
-I wouldn't sit in those cheap seats. You don't know who's sat in them.
Eccentricity individualism at large.
-Defy the sun!
-ALL: Come on, sun! Do your worst!
I say, what's going on?
-I was just telling the men to fight the sun, sir.
-Good show! Carry on.
A mistrust of professionalism.
MIKE GETS LOUDER One, two, three, four, five.
Little technical hitch... Um...
Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Entertainments Manager, saying...
A sense of voluntary service, of wanting to do good, wanting to help out.
-You're too young to die let me go, sir.
-Thank you, Jones, but I must go.
The gentlemanly code. The code of good form.
Let me tell you, Sergeant Major, my wife is 6,000 miles away but I don't behave like a randy animal!
I don't go round the countryside giving ladies kick-starts!
And lastly, an eternal boyishness.
Watch what you're doing!
The main thing is they're a good laugh, and shouldn't be dissected,
whether they're politically correct or whether they're incorrect.
"Were they a laugh?" is the thing,
and where they are concerned, they provided many, many good laughs.
I think somebody once said of themselves, they were not over-educated.
I think it applies to Jimmy and me we're not over-educated and...
we're sort of...
sophisticated as far as theatre and theatricals are concerned.
But we don't analyse much. If it's funny and we can get it in, we do.
I said to my father, "I only want to do two things. I want to be a famous film star or a great comedian."
And he looked at me and said those immortal words, "You stupid boy!"
NATIONAL ANTHEM PLAYS
Subtitles by Angela Clarke BBC 1995