Croft and Ornadel

Although David Croft (born Sandbanks, Dorset, 7th September 1922) and Cyril Ornadel (born London, 2nd December 1924) started off their fledgling careers at different ends of the theatrical world, Croft as an aspiring young actor, and Ornadel as an accompanist, their paths crossed when they were introduced by Ian Carmichael.

At the very start of Croft’s career he would seize every opportunity to write any additional bits of script, extra lines or lyrics that he could. Whilst on tour with Wild Violets Croft grabbed several such chances. This resulted in Ian Carmichael giving him a chance to write the script for a puppet show called It's a Small World. Carmichael saw Croft’s potential and introduced him to Cyril Ornadel with a view to the two of them working together to produce songs. They hit it off straight away. Ornadel was a great character and an extremely talented musician, (he studied at the Royal College of Music) and together they wrote two or three hundred songs for Variety shows for the BBC; Croft writing the lyrics and Ornadel composing and arranging the music.

In 1956, building on their success as a team, and Ornadel’s love of musical theatre, Ornadel wrote his first score; a musical called Star Maker with Croft again writing the lyrics. The show was a Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge vehicle that toured the regions with enormous success. Two years later in 1958 they joined forces again to write The Pied Piper for Gary Miller, which played at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing.

In 1963 Ornadel again worked with Croft to provide the score for an adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel Ann Veronica, at the Cambridge Theatre, London with Dame Dorothy Tutin and Hy Hazel. This musical also featured wonderful performances by Arthur Lowe and Ian Lavender.

Cyril Ornadel is probably best known for composing the musical Pickwick starring Harry Secombe. One of the most famous songs from this show being, If I ruled the world which has been recorded hundreds of times and in fact, was recently used in an advertising campaign for Vodafone.

They both went on to develop flourishing careers; Croft as a situation comedy writer for TV and Ornadel as a highly successful composer, conductor and musical director. This is a friendship that has endured for over sixty years.

This was a friendship that endured for over sixty years. Ornadel lived in Israel until his death in June 2011. He will be sadly missed.

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David Croft