Sunday, 11 October 2015

Jackanory

Between 1965 and 1996 the BBC produced several thousand episodes of a series based around a wonderfully simple idea; an actor / author reading a story in 15 minute chunks directly to camera.  The series, 'Jackanory', became a staple of children's television featuring many key books, authors and actors during it's long run.

Alongside folktales, classic fairy tales and long established writers such as Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter and P.L. Travers it also featured stories by less recognisable or less mainstream authors such as J. G. Ballard, Joan Aiken and Richard Hughes.

The list of those who signed up to read stories speaks volumes about the regard that the programme was held in; from the programmes most prolific reader Bernard Cribbins (who read some 114 different stories) and other well known British TV icons such as Brian Cant, Thora Hird and Joyce Grenfell through 7 different incarnations of The Doctor (numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 & War) to international superstars like Peter Sellers, Michael Palin and Judi Dench.

In 2006, 10 years after the original series ended, the BBC produced two new stories and also dedicated several hours of BBC4 to a celebration of the show.

The video embedded below is that night.  First up are two episodes, 'The Dribblesome Teapot' by Norman Hunter read by Kenneth Williams and Philippa Pearce's 'A Dog So Small' read by Judi Dench.  These are followed by an hour long documentary (it starts at 29:05 for those who don't want the stories) and then two more stories, Rik Mayall's full on reading of Roald Dahl's 'George's Marvellous Medicine' and finally Alan Bennett reading A.A. Milne's 'The House at Pooh Corner'.  The whole thing is compered by, who else, Bernard Cribbins.

Enjoy.

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