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Remember it's a biography
on 18 May 2006
This is important to bear in mind because some may pick this up more for stories and anecdotes concerning the stars of the various sitcoms that David Croft has written over the last 30 - 40 years. To remind those who may not be familiar with all of Croft's repertoire Croft has been responsible with writing partners Jeremy Lloyd and Jimmy Perry for the following: Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Hi-de-Hi, 'Allo 'Allo, and Are You Being Served?
Croft chronicles his life through his childhood as the son of actress and theatrical producer Annie Croft and his estranged father and Hollywood actor Reginald Sharland, through his life in the Army during the Second World War and focussing naturally on his career as comedy writer and BBC producer.
Croft's biography to my mind should be commended for the way he deals with the tabloid controversy that occasionally marked his life; he acknowledges, hints at the content and then moves on. So if it is thrills from his mistakes in life you are looking for you will be surely disappointed.
So to explain the title (I avoided the obvious "You have been reading...") this book is thin, probably deliberately so, about the vast number of comedy characters that David Croft has worked with. There is very little mentioned of the likes of Arthur Lowe, John Inman, Windsor Davies, Gordon Kaye etc. All that is hinted at is that some were difficult, some were charming and others couldn't stand each other on set that required Croft's mediation. This is not to detract from the book which is a biography of a writer and producer; but if it detail of the characters you will be disappointed. For example several characters from the various sitcoms are barely mentioned at all - for example Kenneth Connor doesn't even get a mention!
As with a lot of biographies written by people late in life there is an agenda - a dig at BBC - specifically the John Birt reforms. Accordingly there are a few pages to get through on the state of the BBC and television today; Croft is probably right but this media politics for me doesn't sit well in the book.