Television TV

Jackanory

A staple of our childhoods! Even watching some of the episodes on youtube now I get that cosy warm glow of settling down in front of the TV and dreaming off into another world where a brilliant performer would capture and catapult my imagination.

Jackanory worked (and it stayed almost exactly the same over the years) all it involved was an actor reading from children's novels or from folk tales, usually while seated in an armchair. Every minute or so a cartoon drawing of the section being read about would be shown as still drawing on the TV screen. Usually one book or story would occupy five fifteen-minute episodes, from Monday to Friday.

Jackanory was the programme that first made me aware of Rik Mayall, when he read Road Dahls “Georges marvellous Medicine”. It was a brilliant performance, and so anarchic and fun to my little mind, while all the other performers would sit in the comfy armchair, he bounded around, full of energy.

The series itself was / is a BBC series intended to stimulate an interest in reading in the younger generation. The first show was aired on 13 December 1965, and was the tale Cap o' Rushes and was performed by Lee Montague.

Amazingly, Jackanory was continually broadcast until 24 March 1996, with a total of 3,500 episodes. It was a staple of the Childrens TV calendar, with a lot of celebrities doing a story on it. Tom Baker, Sir Ian McKellen, Kenneth Williams, even HRH Prince Charles read a story on it!

Not surpisingly, it’s time in mothballs didn’t last long. The show returned on 27 November 2006, with a new series now on CBBC. And it now has two versions including “Jackanory Junior” for younger viewers.

Only very very few stories differed from the usual format – one or two being a play rather than just stories being read out by an actor.

Jackanory Fact: The show's title comes from an old English nursery rhyme:

I'll tell you a story About Jack a Nory; And now my story's begun; I'll tell you another Of Jack and his brother, And now my story is done.


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Message boards

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27 July 2011
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Do You Remember Jackanory?

Do You Remember Jackanory?

  • Anonymous user
    on
    Jackanory was great. The play-based ones were a separate, spin-off show, Jackanory Playhouse. The Jackanory I always remember was Rik Mayall, too - when he read Kaye Umansky's "The Fwog Pwince - The Twuth". They often chose him in the Eighties/early Nineties when there was a creepy or darkly humorous story to tell. Bernard Cribbins (last seen narrating CBeebies' pantomime in December 2012) was the greatest contributor, followed by Kenneth Williams. Look up Williams' diaries to find out what it was like recording a Jackanory!
  • Anonymous user
    on
    good kids tv stories...
  • Anonymous user
    on
    Hated it. Apart from when Floella Benjamin was on it