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-Hello, campers! Hi-de-Hi!
-Don't tell him, Pike!
I met him, and he frightened me to death.
-He ruled with a rod of iron.
-A rod of iron, and a smile on his face.
-Like a smiling viper.
And he would laugh on every run-through, right up to the day of transmission, he would still laugh.
I remember someone saying to me, "Do you know what?
I walked down my road and I could hear laughter in the street."
David Croft, the man who wrote some of our best-loved TV comedies, has died at the age of 89.
David Croft was a unique talent in the world of British comedy,
not only co-writing, but producing and directing many of the greatest comedy series of the 20th century.
-This is my wife, Edith. I have told her everything.
-Will she talk?
David Croft is a brand, you know. A Croft programme is a real quality brand,
and you just guarantee if David Croft was producing, it was always going to be brilliant.
David Croft sitcoms were a key part of my growing up.
Looking back, it must have been so nice for my parents to have us
all in the same room, probably crying with laughter, no doubt.
David knew the business inside and out. Loved actors, actors loved him.
He was like a conductor. He conducted the whole thing.
Without him, nothing really would have happened.
For the first time, we'll hear the audio tapes he made whilst working on the scripts.
Ted joins Gladys. Ted into microphone. "Hello, campers! Welcome to Maplins. Hi-de-Hi!
David Croft was born in 1922, into a showbusiness family.
He inherited a love of entertainment from his parents, who performed together in the theatre.
He literally was a sort of dressing room baby.
Made his first appearance at the age of three,
and from the moment he walked off, he said he was totally hooked.
His mother was an amazing character, and very talented.
She was the only woman ever that had a theatrical production company in the West End
without a male partner or male equivalent.
It was "Anne Croft presents..."
His father, Reginald Sharland, was an actor and writer, who moved to Hollywood to pursue his career.
David Croft followed the family tradition, and entered the world of entertainment.
His path soon crossed with a man who would become a lifelong colleague and friend.
When I first met David Croft, I was a ragged-arse actor.
Ann, his wife, phoned me up, who was my agent, she said, "Oh, Jimmy,
David's doing a new situation comedy called Beggar My Neighbour.
And always so honest and trustworthy!
Never nick no more than what you could carry under your coat!
I did this scene where I came... "Hello, Sid! It's me, your brother George!"
Here, what are you all ponced up for?
Got a job as a waiter or something?
Growing tired of small acting roles, Perry decided to try his hand at writing.
And I thought, "I know what I'll do. I'll write a pilot."
One day, he came in and he said to me,
"I've got a script, I think it's got something."
So I read it, and I thought, "Well, yes it has."
Ann said to me, "Show it to David." He said, "Jimmy, it's great. Let's do it."
# Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler
# If you think we're on the run? #
None of us thought it was going to become a national treasure.
It was just another comedy series.
-Right, Pike, take off your tunic and wrap it round the pipes.
Because you're wet already. Go on.
The magic ingredient was their casting.
He's doomed! Doomed!
I mean, the casting was absolutely brilliant in all of his shows.
You know perfectly well you can be here all day while I'm busy at the bank.
I'm sorry, Captain Mainwaring, but nothing is going to make me get up out of this chair, and that is that.
RADIO PLAYS "God Save The King"
David Croft used to cast people really well,
in that you can't imagine anybody but the people that played
all of those parts from all of those series playing it.
RADIO PLAYS END OF "God Save The King"
The thing about Dad's Army is that I think it's probably the most
perfect example of writing and casting coming together.
Come along, Godfrey! Godfrey, pick 'em up, pick 'em up!
I'm afraid they won't go any higher!
Although it's quite a big gallery of characters,
every single one of those characterisations is pitch perfect.
Sell your own grandmother, wouldn't you?
Well, there's no market for her.
If you were to think, "Oh, I'm going to start casting those characters,"
you wouldn't want to swap them with anybody.
-Eight against one!
-No, it's only seven. I'm not feeling very well.
We're talking about seven tough old pros.
All of them had been there and not quite made it.
And suddenly, they're stars. They've made it.
Every time they stop in the street, "There he is!"
And we were all working actors. Old John Laurie, he was a marvellous actor,
and Ian Lavender's another wonderful actor.
He was quite a young chap when we first started, Ian Lavender.
To say they took me under their wings, collectively or even individually, not quite so.
It was a bit of sink or swim.
I remember David saying, "We thought we'd throw you in the deep end
and see what happened," and he said, "You floated, it's all right!
-Shut the door, Pike.
From the other side!
-You should have said!
And Croft had his own unique way of selecting the cast.
He said, "I just want somebody who can shout and push other actors about a bit."
What's going on here? I've never heard such a row!
His wife, my agent, said, "Well, I've got somebody who,
in fact, is not an actor.
I'm not sure that he ever will be a great actor,
but I think he's maybe what you want."
Hey! Hey! If you think I'm hanging on here, you're mistaken.
The first series we wrote more or less together,
and then he'd got me to write some, and he wrote some, and a bit of a mess, actually.
So we finally got to a situation, I said, "Dave, there's only one way to do this. Face-to-face."
So we both wrote by hand with a lovely felt-tip pen, and then
we'd have the rough script, and then we'd sit there, and then we'd act it.
They showed it to an audience, as they always did, to test it,
and it didn't go down very well, and some of the reports,
because you used to write a report, and they came in.
But as David ran his own little empire, in a way,
when all the really bad reports came in saying comedy couldn't be made out of this,
he managed to keep them in files that didn't get too high up the stand.
He'd say, "There's only one thing to do with this."
"Don't want that one."
He said, "I knew that, given half a chance, it would succeed."
All local defence volunteers to report to the church hall
at six o'clock today!
There you are.
After the first series, Croft and Perry had to defend Dad's Army against those who said
a comedy should not be made about Britain's Home Guard.
Did the scriptwriters make such a serious national crisis too funny to be even vaguely true?
Well, we've had one or two ideas which we thought were too way out.
You see, when we started this thing, I think we just regarded it as a comedy show,
but as you get into it, as soon as we started writing it properly,
we realised it was much more than this, because there's a wonderful spirit in those days.
These men really would have, they would have died,
and as soon as you get into that sort of dimension,
then you can't go too far into the realms of comedy,
you've got to keep it with its feet on the ground.
This sympathetic and understated approach could be seen throughout Croft's work.
He was quite a shy man, and he wasn't one for being openly effusive,
that's left to Jimmy Perry, basically. I think that's probably why they were such a good team.
He was a very private man, but he was a very caring and loving man.
He cared deeply about what he did.
I never saw him once lose his temper. He was always very calm.
He was an observer.
He would sit at dinner parties.
When he did come out with a line, it was often very witty, very funny and very pertinent,
but mostly he watched people.
I look at it this way, sir.
Now, although Sergeant Wilson has got three stripes on his honourable arm,
you've got three pips on your common shoulder.
To me, their series were always about class.
Class and snobbery, yes, the conflict, yes, that's where
it springs from, they found that, I mean, we see it all the way through.
It reminds me of the time when I was at school, and we used to have midnight feasts in the dorm.
School I went to, we didn't have any midnight feasts.
You had to manage with a few aniseed balls in the corner of the playground.
Status within their series was a really key thing.
In Dad's Army it was that you had a bank manager and his assistant who were in charge,
and there was an issue there, because the assistant came from a higher class.
You needn't think you can roll in here 20 minutes late after lunch. Where have you been?
Well, I went up to the golf club and had a bite to eat up there.
-The golf club?
-Who took you?
-Well, I'm a member.
I've been trying for years to get in there.
I believe they're awfully particular.
I don't think, when they wrote it, Jimmy Perry and David Croft passed any judgements on anybody.
They just laid out what I think was a very accurate landscape
of how the class system works.
Now, don't start any of that public school cheating with me.
One of the things that he did really well
is the ability to use understatement where a little goes a very long way.
CAPTAIN MAINWARING COUGHS
He was a marvellous director and producer. He was really first-class.
He'd say, "When you do that, just give a pause there and you'll get a bigger laugh.
He was right.
-Here we go!
-No, no, no, no! Oh, no, that's only cardboard!
There is a war on, you know!
He would just smile and nod his head, and you knew he was pleased,
and if he was pleased, you'd know you'd achieved something.
You'd always try and say, "David, I've got an idea, I've got a suggestion here,"
and he'd say, "Yeah, yeah." I said, "Can I just try something?"
And he'd say, "Yeah, of course, Melvyn. Show me, show me."
And I would do it, and he'd say, "That's very funny! I like it.
Save it for panto."
You'd try something in rehearsals, and flick a look to David,
just to see what his reaction was, and he'd just go...
And that was it.
I was just going to give the order...
I was just going to...
-What's the matter, Corporal?
-I think I'm going, sir.
-I hear angels' voices.
-Those are no angels' voices, it's the choir!
The most interesting thing about David and Jimmy's writing
was the juxtaposition of comedy with tragedy.
You've taken a long time to answer, dear. Where have you been?
Oh, I see.
-She's been down in the air raid shelter.
I might have a little surprise for you tonight.
No, no, I've bought...
Jimmy and David had the knack of, how shall I put it?
Using broad strokes, poster paints, and then becoming very delicate.
Pastels, as it were.
I... I don't want you to go.
The whole pattern of my life has changed, I just live from one meeting to the next.
I know, and I'm just the same, but it's the only thing to do.
-People are talking.
-People always talk. Who cares about that?
-But there's your wife.
-Nobody'll talk to her.
It managed to, you know, be quite silly, very funny,
very nuanced in some of the characterisations, but also rather...
..well, the word I want to use is beautiful, which is that they could sometimes achieve
levels of poignancy and drama within an episode.
-Don't get that train.
-George, I must.
I implore you, don't get that train. Look, we'll meet once a week.
George, you're making this very difficult for me, but I've made up my mind. It's the only way.
-Victoria, Victoria train!
-Here's my train.
Look, Fiona. I've never begged anything from anyone in my life, but I'm begging you not to go.
You get this terribly touching,
poignant window into the unhappiness of Mainwaring's marriage, really,
and he knows that nothing can happen, and it's all beautifully executed.
-Where can I get in touch with you?
-You won't be able to.
-You'll write, won't you?
-I don't know. After a little while, perhaps.
Stand clear, sir.
And pull those blinds down!
Promise you'll write.
Very well. I promise.
-Make it soon.
TRAIN PULLS AWAY
All good comedy is truthful, no matter how silly it is, or apparently silly,
it's trying to get at some universal truth, and that's why, when it's good, it has so much power.
We'll stick together, you can rely on that.
If anybody tries to take our homes or our freedom away from us, they'll find out what we can do.
You could sense it was the writers nodding their acknowledgement
towards the fact that the whole thing had been triggered by the experiences
of real men in the war, and I thought that was really effective.
To Britain's Home Guard.
ALL: To Britain's Home Guard!
It's quality stuff. It's timeless stuff.
You stupid boy.
Don't panic! Don't panic!
The fact that Dad's Army is, that millions still watch it,
-I am an officer.
-Yes, quite, Sir, yes.
-You're supposed to be an NCO.
-Yes, of course, yes.
-Right. Very well. Remember...
Every Saturday, it's on. I'll be in later in the week.
My grandchildren, they love it.
Even when I'm not in it!
And it was real life again that inspired Croft's first hit series with writing partner Jeremy Lloyd.
MUSIC: "Porcelain" by Moby
I had the idea for Are You Being Served?
because I'd slaved away for three years at Simpson's in Piccadilly,
which was a big gentleman's outfitters.
The people, actually, that we created in Are You Being Served?
were all types of people that I'd worked with.
Oh, that does suit you!
Oh, that does suit you!
Oh, that does suit you!
We had a chat, and we had lunch, and I'd already written four or five pages,
which he read and said, "Well, let's do it."
And Lucas, while you're down there, straighten those seams.
-I hate to see crooked seams.
-Yes, Mr Peacock.
David actually had a marvellous idea, which I hadn't had,
which was that the ladies' and gentlemen's departments should be put together,
so there'd be a lot of conflict, and that was the actual nub of the show,
and it worked marvellously, and the pecking order worked marvellously.
I have been deeply distressed to learn of a slump in our sales
over the past four weeks, which I'm sure you've all observed.
Yes, I have observed it. Haven't you, Mr Grainger?
Oh, a very definite slump, I would say.
-Have you observed it, Mr Humphries?
-Oh, I've observed it, Mr Grainger.
-You observed it, too, didn't you?
-Oh, yes, definitely!
In order to do situation comedy, or perhaps almost any comedy,
you need to have a situation in which there are rules.
Mr Grainger returned from lunch, 14:03.
Would you sign, please?
I'm sorry, Captain Peacock, but I must refuse to sign your book.
These rules, then, are in danger of being broken, and from that arises most of the comedy.
That's a brandy for Mr Grainger.
Well done, Mr Grainger. The way you stood up to him.
We shall always remember you for that, Mr Grainger, when you've gone.
The doubles entendres, the double meanings were an essential part of it.
And, sometimes, they were so outrageous that when we did
the read-through we'd say, "We can't say that, we'll all be arrested!"
At seven o'clock tonight, my pussy's expecting to see a friendly face!
I personally think that Mrs Slocombe's pussy is the funniest joke ever written in any medium,
and I can watch it any number of times and never be bored and never stop laughing.
I never have any trouble in getting up in the morning.
My pussy's just like an alarm clock.
David would say, "Look, you do it as though you haven't
the slightest idea that there is any double meaning at all,
so it's done completely innocently, and no one will mind."
I think, looking back now, were my parents thinking,
"Oh, some of those innuendos, are they getting them?" There must be a bit of that.
I certainly didn't get any of them, I don't think.
Trousers are at a complete standstill.
You're lucky to get your tape up once a day.
It was how you deciphered it. If you thought it was rude, that was...
Or, it could have been totally innocent.
Whatever has happened to the central heating in here?
My ballpoint'll never function in this weather.
The key in the writing was that they can't get out of their scenario.
It's very limiting, but it means you've got to really focus on the jokes.
You've got to focus on getting laughs, because there's not much else you can do with it.
Mmmm! She's a healthy girl, isn't she?
Miss Brahms, get out the 44s.
The Kilimanjaro range.
My favourite character in that was always young Mr Grace.
You've all done very well!
I just never tired of that.
And again, "You're all doing very well"
just became a phrase that we used whenever it was prompted.
You've all done very well!
ALL: Thank you, Mr Grace!
There isn't hardly ever a time, somebody did some research on this, actually,
when an episode of Are You Being Served? isn't being shown on some station, somewhere.
Ho, ho, ho, little boy! Have I got a surprise for you!
Some company sent us in a book, which was a quiz of Are You Being Served?
Penny, my daughter, was saying, "Oh, Dad, what was Mrs so-and-so's maiden name before she got married?"
"Er, urm, can't remember at the moment,"
he said, and they couldn't answer half the questions that came out,
and said, "My goodness, people do really listen!"
I said, "Well, you've always said that!"
MASTERMIND THEME MUSIC
It Ain't Half Hot Mum, in two minutes, starting now.
Which character uses the expression, "it ain't half hot, Mum",
when writing home during the first episode?
In the seventh series, Captain Ashworth's given
an experimental anti-malarial drug by mistake.
-What effect does it have on him?
-His skull grows through his hair.
Yeah, he loses his hair.
When Bombardier Beaumont kicks the Sergeant Major, what punishment
does he receive from the Colonel?
-He can't play Ginger Rogers again.
-No, he can't.
-You enjoying your tea, Gunner?
-Yes, thank you.
What the hell's going on?!
If anybody says to me, "What's your favourite?" Without a doubt, it's Ain't Half Hot Mum.
# Meet the gang, cos the boys are here
# The boys to entertain you! #
Jimmy actually ran a concert party.
We'd left India just a few days before India got its independence.
Of course, that's why I've got all these stories!
David spent most of the war not doing anything very theatrical,
although he was involved with a concert party when he was in India.
They always wrote from their own experiences, basically.
They took reality and stretched it.
The train will be back for us just before 18:00 hours, so, Bombardier, do not make it a long show.
You can rely on me, Sergeant Major!
The only thing I can rely on you for, Bombardier, is to ponce about.
It Ain't Half Hot Mum was a concert party out in the jungle,
right, playing to nobody, maybe two or three people,
two officers who think they were wonderful, wonderful artists,
a Sergeant Major who just wants to get these men as men, up there fighting.
Leave yourself alone, Bombardier, or I will make you wear boxing gloves.
Pay attention, lovely boys.
This is the hottest time of the year, but we are not going to give in.
We can fight it.
It's really very, very, very difficult to write big, ensemble comedy, you know,
to keep each character's plate spinning on a stick.
Your university education won't do you much good up there, will it?
-No, Sergeant Major.
-"No, Sergeant Major!"
The intellect that is able to cope with all those different people,
perhaps as many as 15 people in the cast, and still keep all the threads going
and keep true to all the characters is extraordinary.
I'm afraid there's nothing else for it. Things are getting very desperate.
We'll have to break into the cocktail snacks.
-Surely not, sir!
-Yes, I'm afraid so.
He was very good at creating brilliant characters, and then all you have to do
is stick different ones in the room, and they kind of talk to themselves, in a way, in the writer's mind.
I think he heard me.
He's got them all together there, so you can bounce off each other,
and as a group comedy, it works marvellously well. They were masters at it.
Sir? Guess what the thermometer's reading.
Something light? Agatha Christie?
David had the ability to gather a group of characters together
who wouldn't normally want to be in the same room with each other,
and from that, create this marvellous comedy.
Let me go out there and win them with my personality!
I think that a lot of David's comedy was very broad and,
you might say, silly, farcical, ludicrous, in some ways,
like out of the dressing up box.
Gloria, bless him, I mean, you know, as far as he's concerned, life is wonderful, life is showbusiness.
I'm meant to be a girl in an English garden, not Tarzan in the jungle!
After about four weeks, David said to me, "We're going to find it very difficult to write for you."
I said, "Why is that?" He said, "You're playing it very effeminately, very camp."
I said, "Just a minute, David.
Gloria is a feminine name, wears a wig, lots of make-up and dresses.
How else can I play it?"
And he went, "Yeah, I see what you mean. Mmm, carry on, then!"
Listen to that! They're shouting "We want Gloria!" My public are clamouring for me!
David used to say to the make-up artists, "Let the boys do their own camp make-ups."
So you got these lads, Chris and Michael, all the lads,
and they'd put these terrible make-ups on with the big lipstick.
AUDIENCE LAUGHTER DROWNS OUT SINGING
That's how soldiers would have done it.
AUDIENCE LAUGHTER DROWNS OUT SINGING
Shut up! This is all your fault, Gunner Sugden! Shut up!
He wrote the part of Sergeant Major Williams
as a standard cockney Sergeant Major.
"Left, right, left, right!" But we were wrong.
Windsor came in to read the part, and he's Welsh,
and he read it in cockney, and I said, "That's wrong. Would you read it in Welsh?"
And he read it in Welsh, and that's where the whole thing started.
He played it for reality.
I loved working with Windsor. He was a warm, generous man.
So concentrated, he'd be the Sergeant Major all the time on the set.
SERGEANT MAJOR SPEAKS URDU
Sergeant Major Williams Sahib, Gunner Parkin Sahib.
Who do you damn well think you're talking to?
SERGEANT MAJOR SPEAKS URDU
Why don't you talk to me in English, in which I am articulate?
Otherwise I would not be able to hold up this occupation.
I am Grade 2, not some damn native.
The faces he pulled when he was angry, or when he was happy,
he was just amazingly good.
HE SPEAKS URDU
One cup of heavenly, enchanted tea coming up.
Sergeant Major, Sir.
In a minute, my lovely.
The decision to cast a white actor, Michael Bates, in the part of the Bearer,
would lead to the series running into controversy.
Somebody said it was racist, and one of the reasons it was racist
was because Michael Bates was white and was playing an Indian character.
# Moonlight becomes you... #
HE SINGS IN URDU
Michael spoke fluent Urdu, and was educated in India until he was 16.
Knowing David and Jimmy the way I do,
I don't think they would do anything that was racist.
A lot of David's work is of its time, and the attitudes of its time.
I had too much to drink last night. Oh, I've got such terrible pullover!
I think the notion of It Ain't Half Hot Mum being politically incorrect
is definitely a retrospective notion.
Sergeant Major Sahib swore me to complete secrecy, so I will tell only you.
We did watch it as a family, and really enjoyed it.
I don't want this fellow to hear, because he is Nosey Parker!
HE SPEAKS URDU
If I say you are Nosey Parker, you are Nosey Parker!
Oh, shut up!
And the fact that you had three regular Indian characters on television
who were involved, they weren't the butt of the joke all the time,
they weren't there to be lampooned, they weren't on the periphery of the programme,
they were very much a part of it, was incredibly, kind of, exciting
and reassuring for us as British Asian viewers.
And what could be nicer than a glass of pure water from the heavens above?
HE SPEAKS URDU
..glass of beer.
Sit up straight when you are punkah-ing!
Equally, it was making fun of the British Army.
One of the most respected elements of our society, of this country.
They may even have slipped something into the chai.
So no one must drink the tea until...
-Are you all right, Ashworth?
-Yes, I think so, sir.
Well, that's all right, then. You can drink the tea, chaps.
-Oh, my Godfathers!
-Good God! Is he...?
I went to sit down and there wasn't a chair there!
Croft and Perry went to great lengths to make the locations look as realistic as possible.
Everyone thought we filmed in India, but in actual fact it was in Norfolk,
and the desert scenes were shot in a huge sandpit, which they tricked out
with palms and things, and the jungle itself was woods or forest nearby,
in which they imported, so they told me at the time, £500,000 worth of foreign or exotic plants,
and planted them among the trees, and it gave the impression of India.
The greatest thing we've got going for us is that sweat.
Everybody used to say, "Where did that...?"
It was bottles of glycerin mixed with water,
and before every shot it would be under the arms, over the face.
Stop scratching yourself, Sugden!
I can't help it, Sergeant Major. I've got prickly heat. I'm covered in little bumps.
As far as I is concerned, Sugden, you is one big little bump, now shut up!
Normally, first day at rehearsals, you do the line, everybody would laugh.
Crew, everybody would laugh, thinking, "That's very funny!"
Second time, nobody laughs because they've seen it, except David.
David would laugh, and he would laugh on every run through, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, right up to the day of transmission, he would still laugh.
Though he'd seen it 20 times, he would still find it amusing, and that's very encouraging.
So, each time we rehearsed it, you know, this is good, this is what he wants.
It say: "They are caught like rats in trap."
That's it. I knew it. We should never have come here alone!
They should have sent some soldiers with us!
The better the sitcom, the fewer the actual jokes.
It's all about the interaction of the people.
The strongest material has to emanate from character.
And it was the characters that Croft and Perry had themselves encountered
who formed the basis for the next series.
The characters in Hi-de-Hi! were archetypal.
The Punch and Judy man that hated kids, and I'm sure that happened.
And now, your kiddies' entertainer, Uncle Willy!
Get out the way. Get out the way!
The dancers, who were just wonderful, you know, that thought themselves a cut above everybody else,
and used to bring their own wallpaper and pin it up.
A little higher, Barry. The stalk's not quite lined up with the flower.
It's happened before, dear, it'll happen again.
So all these characters were based on real people.
Everyone that David and Jimmy cast, whatever it was, they were a failure.
Hello, campers. Hi-de-Hi!
The heroism comes in the fact that they all keep going.
Jeffrey can't hear you. Hi-de-Hi!
Give me strength!
Most of them were never going to make anything in a million years, but you know what?
They all had hope given to them.
When that entertainments director comes down, could you get me an interview?
You know, about being a Yellowcoat. You did promise.
-Well, I said I'd try. He's a very busy man.
-Oh, please, do your best!
-Of course I will, Peggy.
-Oh, bless you! You're a lovely man!
Well, thank you.
They portrayed that life can be difficult,
and it's sometimes like wading through treacle,
and you sat back and go, "Good, it's not just me."
What happened? It were a bloody disaster!
-What are you talking about? It can't have been!
-You see these two feet?
I died on them tonight.
-That's the success of their shows.
-That's right, it was always putting people together.
It went for the underdog.
I'm terribly sorry about all this, Peggy. Are you all right?
I think I'm getting the hang of it! Can we do it again?
All I remember is just waiting, every week,
for Ruth to go ding-ding-ding!
Hello, campers! Hi-de-Hi!
What a hot day it's been, and what a lot of fun we've all had in the Olympic-size swimming pool.
I couldn't get enough of her flirting with Simon Cadell.
Thinking about it, David Croft probably had a very strange effect
on my learnings of romance, as a boarding school girl,
so I would have learned about unrequited love from Simon Cadell and Ruth Madoc.
MUSIC: "Someone Like You" by Adele
If you give out a little more, you'd be surprised what you get back in return.
That quivering, unfulfilled romance between Ruth Madoc's character
and Simon Cadell's manager.
There's so much of you that doesn't show on the surface.
A lovely, exquisitely-teased out, comic, tragic romance.
If only he'd take notice of her in the right way,
and he never did, God love him.
Croft and Perry found their own unique way of developing the storylines.
We worked out this sort of technique,
so we used to write it very rough, and then we'd act it.
They enjoyed it, because they'd get all their acting, their bits of wanting to act
out of their system, didn't it, really?
We'd put it on one of those little mini recorders, and just listen to it.
Ted into microphone. "Hello, campers! Welcome to Maplins.
"Hi-de-Hi!" Gladys. "Go on, Yellowcoats. Get amongst 'em!"
Yellowcoats move in amongst the campers getting off the coach.
Ted continues into the microphone. "I'm Ted Bovis...
..your camp host. If you want to know anything, don't ask me.
Make your way to reception and sign in,
and the Yellowcoats will help you to your chalet.
Hello, Mrs Evans! Back again? Lovely to see you, darling!
-They did every voice.
-If it was Peggy, "Oh, no, not Miss Cathcart!"
If it were Ted, "Spike, what are you doing, lad? Come here!"
But he used to tell us sometimes, in rehearsals, how they did it,
and I'd say, "None of us sound like that! You're terrible actors!"
Cut to Gladys. "Oh, no, not him!" She hurries away.
Spike sees her reaction. Spike. "What's the matter? Where are you going, Gladys?" He follows.
Cut to Ted for more of his announcements.
You back again? I thought we drowned you last year! Never mind, we'll soon fix that!
They knew what they wanted to hear on that screen.
They have the time of their lives writing Hi-de-Hi!
They used to fall off their chairs laughing!
I received a letter from Joe Maplin this morning.
I don't know about you, but I really do enjoy reading these letters,
because Joe writes as he thinks, and they really are sincere.
Get this into your thick heads.
That's the letter, it's not me.
I suppose, David Croft comedy, they are unique.
They're, sort of, I think it's theatre on television, really.
They're just productions, really camp, theatrical,
ensemble productions that you just don't get now.
-Tie Gladys to the stake.
-Just doing that.
Well there's no need to put so tight, it's only pretend.
It's got to be tight. Virgins have to struggle for their honour.
I'm surprised you can remember that far back.
People absolutely loved, they absolutely loved the physical aspect of their comedy.
Visual jokes were a very strong vein,
and you can see them in Hi-de-Hi! with the pantomime horse.
Will you sign for this, please?
When I was given the reins of the real horse to hold, because I was in the front of the pantomime horse,
this horse took a shine to me, and it started doing what horses do, blowing its nose at my nose.
-What am I going to do with it?
-It'll have to live in the stable!
Oh, blimey! We'll take the shortcut along the beach.
That's what put Hi-de-Hi! on the map, that scene.
It's what he was so brilliant at, is that he had the combination of the massive laughs,
and this delicacy.
His great thing about a character, he didn't want them to be one-dimensional.
I'm sorry to bother you, Mr Fairbrother.
I just wanted to thank you for getting me that interview with the Entertainments Director.
I did ever so well. Oh, he was nice, he talked to me just like a father.
He said I was to carry on trying, and working hard at me job,
and he keep a special eye on me, and later in the season he'd let me know.
I think he wanted to convey that, certainly the characters in Hi-de-Hi!,
you know, they're all trying to make a better life for themselves in whichever way they knew.
He managed to write characters with such, not only broad brush strokes
that we understood why they were funny, but such detail,
so he just had the right combination, I don't know how he did it.
I just want you to know, I'm not going to give up.
I'll keep on trying, and I'll be wearing that yellow coat one day, you'll see.
David always wanted a reality about his work, insofar as he wanted you to be sincere,
and he said it doesn't really matter, even if you think, "Oh, God, this is laying this on a bit thick."
He said, "No, if you're in that situation, and you know that character well enough,
that's what I want. I want you to never be afraid to bring a tear to somebody's eye."
Croft and Perry weren't afraid to bring successful series to a close.
But it wasn't always easy for the writers.
The worst one, for the last episode, was Hi-de-Hi!
Well, that's it, folks. It's the last night of the season.
We all hope you've had a wonderful holiday.
Because we've had a wonderful time entertaining you.
There was a huge sadness, and I will never forget singing
Goodnight Campers for the last time in the Hawaiian ballroom.
Let's all join in with a good old farewell song...
that is being sung at this very moment...
in Maplins holiday camps all over the country.
It was so poignant, and there were real tears from us,
from Su Pollard and myself. I daren't look at Pollard!
# Goodnight, campers
# See you in the morning. #
-Everybody was in floods of tears.
-It was, true.
Because it was a very, very emotional ending to that last one.
-Yes, it was.
-That was the manner of the man. He knew his job.
It was a long time, and we were a great family, really,
and we just went, "Oh, well, this is it, then."
You know, it was really very poignant.
Oh, Ted! It's been just wonderful. I did it! I got me yellow coat!
I'll remember this week for the rest of me life!
# Goodnight! #
And the whole audience were in tears. They just sat there. I said, "Thank you, everyone."
And a woman said, "Have we got to go, now?" Great moments.
David and Jimmy are very hot on using people from their various other sitcoms,
if they felt they married up.
And the next series would bring together some familiar faces.
You Rang, M'Lord? was certainly our favourite of the three shows we did together, I think.
You Rang, M'Lord?, David and I thought it was the best.
Where are you going to find the £73 7/6 you owe her?
I've got the 7/6.
It was certainly David's favourite show of all.
He said he thought it was part of the best of his work.
-What was it David said about it? The jewel in his crown?
-The jewel in his crown.
This was given to me by my father on my 21st birthday, for being a good girl.
And that was given to me by the Turkish ambassador, for not being a good girl.
It was very similar to Upstairs, Downstairs, with laughs.
They were very, very interested in putting social comment underneath the comedy.
I don't suppose you've been in a room like this very often.
No, your Lordship. Not since I done the grate this morning.
It has a lot of comment about exactly the changing of the world,
and how things developed majorly in the '20s and '30s.
Beautiful, you're wonderful, with your shiny, scrubbed face,
and those glasses with the thumbprints on them!
Teddy was great fun to play. People still come up to me and say, "carbolic soap",
and "smudgy glasses", and things.
Oh, I loved it, because it was outrageous, really.
-Why do you go in for servants?
-I don't know. It just comes over me.
I find myself creeping up the attic stairs, my heart pounding,
then I push open the door, and there's the smell of carbolic soap.
Oh, the production values on You Rang, M'Lord? were marvellous, I mean, like a feature film, almost.
Every piece of furniture, the cutlery, the glasses, everything, even down to the cigars we smoked.
I like the period altogether, the cloche hats, the beautiful '20s coats.
It was just, you were transported into another world.
Surrounded by beautiful props and wearing lovely costumes.
And all real, by the way. There was nothing fake.
They had them watched, 24 hours a day.
David used to say it cost a fortune to hire the props.
-Is that right?
-Hold on to your hat!
The clever thing about all David's programmes is that they're set in the past, so that they never date.
They're already in the past.
And it was a historical event that inspired another hit series for David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd.
Here comes that idiot Englishman who thinks he can speak our language.
Crabtree. Good moaning. Rene. Good moaning. Crabtree. Do you want the good nose or the bad nose?
Oh, do let us have the good nose!
I have hushed up the shutting of the two tits.
What does Crabtree say, Yvette?
He has hushed up the shooting of the two tarts.
You could hear them in the room, going, "Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho!"
The laughter that was coming out... "You can't say that." "I think we can!"
Stand by for inspection by General von Klinkerhoffen. Hans.
General von Klinkerhoffen! Colonel. General von Klinkerhoffen! Michelle.
There is a gun in your back. If you give us away, you will be the first to die.
You will do exactly as I say. Rene. Now listen very carefully...
..I will say this only once.
It was quite bold of David and Jeremy
to put a series together called 'Allo 'Allo!,
set in France, occupied by the Germans.
It was quite heavily criticised at the time for taking the Mickey out of all these brave people.
David said, "But we don't send up anyone in particular," he said. "We send up everyone."
"The Germans are kinky, the French are randy and the English are stupid."
The phone rang, and it was my agent, and she said, "I've just been on the telephone
for nearly three-quarters of an hour with David Croft,
and he's got this idea for a new series, a new comedy series."
"He's eager to have you in it, Gorden, and he's sending the script."
I started to read it, and I was laughing about a third of the way down.
I thought, "This is funny. It's not one of my lines, it's just a description of what's going on."
And, eventually, I got through it, and I thought,
"I've got to ring agent up and say yes please, with knobs on."
Otto Flick, the Gestapo officer, is having dinner in the back room.
Upstairs are two German officers in their underwear,
because I have borrowed their uniforms to help two British airmen to escape.
The pianist over there is in fact a forger for the Maquis,
and the German officer at that table fancies me.
And it is only Tuesday!
You shouldn't be laughing at it, because it breaks all the rules of political correctness,
but at the end of the day, it's full of joy and delight.
Is the secret camera operating correctly?
I will demonstrate, Colonel!
No, I wasn't the only one in the piece that wondered if we would get away with lines like these.
I have three fallen Madonnas, with six pink boobies.
We were very lucky getting Gorden Kaye,
who was from Huddersfield, who does the most marvellous French accent.
I expect you would like a light.
Thank you, you're very kind.
I have no matches.
Then why do you ask me if I would like a light?
I'm very sorry.
If you have no matches, if you have no matches, take mine.
-I have a spare box.
-Are you one of them?
Really, it was very lonely on the Russian Front.
Jeremy and David wrote so that you laughed out loud.
Even if you didn't want to laugh, you laughed.
The scripts were beautiful, and we all knew where the laughs were.
Er, do you have a light?
What do you want a light for? I just lit it.
I don't want a light, I just wondered if he had a light.
I have no matches.
I've just given you some matches!
These are your matches, they're not my matches!
-Is he one of us?
-No, he's one of them!
Please, don't tell everybody!
David had a wonderful brain for construction of shows,
what was funny, how to put it all together.
Scripts, when they came for new series, I would read them and I'd think,
"Oh, I can't wait for so-and-so to say that line,"
because I knew exactly how they would do it,
and therefore David and Jeremy themselves obviously knew how they would do it.
-Listen very carefully. I shall say this only once.
-I beg your pardon?
It's so clever if you've got a character that people can engage in so much,
and be interested in enough to just have quite simple catchphrases
and find them so funny and want to see them every week.
It is I, LeClerc.
It's only when somebody says it and it gets a laugh,
and then they say it again the next week and it gets a laugh, it then becomes a catchphrase.
I think people liked the knowledge that somebody's going to do it, and then enjoy it when they do.
You stupid woman!
The catchphrases, probably, that stick are the ones which
coincide perfectly with the character, in some way.
It was David's idea, which I also thought was brilliant,
to have the English arriving not speaking French,
the French not understanding them, but everybody speaking English.
Go and find us a table where we will be alone. I have a little English, I will explain.
OK, chaps. Follow the boss.
Oh, good God! She speaks English!
The French seem to be able to understand the Germans
and vice versa, but nobody understood the English.
Are you expecting us, by any chance?
-What does he say?
-I don't know, I don't speak English.
David Croft himself used to say, "It's a can of worms, don't go there, you know."
These are the rules, you know, don't go too deep into that, but it's working so far!
I say, is anyone down there?
Oh, my God! Not another stupid English man!
I'll never forget David walking into the studio rehearsals one day,
and saying to me, I think, halfway through the first series,
saying to me, "I've had the most brilliant idea! I've had a brilliant idea last night!"
He said, "I'm bringing in an English policeman who can't speak French."
I just, basically, wanted to see the policeman, who was hilarious.
At school, I mean, we never not said "Good moaning".
That's what we'd say, good moaning. It was just a catchphrase for us all.
I was pissing by the door...
..when I heard two shats.
It had kind of gone to my head a bit.
David came up to me and said, "Yes, yes, we'll do that again,
and this time, don't come in knowing you're going to be funny."
Which is actually devastating!
And I think it's probably the best note I've ever been given in my whole career.
I've never forgotten it, I never will forget it.
-You bear a most remarkably close resemblance to Rene.
-You even have the same pretty rings.
-Ah, yes, yes. He left them to me.
Now I come to look, your eyelashes are a little longer, and your hands are more artistic.
The Colonel told me you arrived from Nancy this morning.
-Yes, yes, quite right.
-Is that where you and Rene were born?
Yes, we were both Nancy boys.
It's a wonderful thing to know that I worked with one of the great,
one of the greats of our profession.
He gave something to British comedy that is like a treasure chest.
MUSIC: "Run" by Snow Patrol
They don't come like David any more. Those sort of writers are gone.
So sad, in a way.
He was a great mentor, and you couldn't want for anybody better, could you?
I'm so grateful to him for the laughs, and all that he's done for the genre that I love so much.
What have we got here?
Is it a mushroom?
His work was injected with a sense of fun, I think, as well.
A kind of optimism.
They can put 20 bombs down my trousers, and they will not make me crack!
He wasn't just liked by everyone that worked with him,
he was loved by everyone that worked with him.
This man, Croft, had a knack for making people smile.
Plenty of room under the arms for movement.
I get quite carried away when I put one of...aaaah!
You don't argue with somebody who's got
a list of successes like he has, over the years.
He had a very good ear and a very good eye. I was very, very lucky to meet him.
I screamed and screamed, but nobody came.
We thought you were singing.
I'd like to say this as a tribute to David, because he was so easy.
We never had a row. He knew it all. Can you say that about somebody?
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