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Jackanory was a long-running BBC children's television series that was designed to stimulate an interest in reading. The show was first transmitted on 13 December 1965, the first story being the fairy-tale Cap-o'-Rushes read by Lee Montague. Jackanory continued to be broadcast until 1996, clocking up around 3,500 episodes in its 30-year run. The final story, The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne, was read by Alan Bennett and broadcast on 24 March 1996. Repeats of the series have been broadcast on Sunday mornings from 1996 to 1997 on BBC2 under the title "Jackanory Gold" which have featured highlights from the series. The show returned on 27 November 2006 for two one-off stories.

The show's format, which varied little over the decades, involved an actor reading from children's novels or folk tales, usually while seated in an armchair. From time to time the scene being read would be illustrated by a specially commissioned still drawing, often by Quentin Blake. Usually a single book would occupy five daily fifteen-minute episodes, from Monday to Friday.

A spin-off series was Jackanory Playhouse (1972–85), which was a series of thirty-minute dramatisations. These included a dramatisation by Philip Glassborow of the comical A. A. Milne story "The Princess Who Couldn't Laugh".

Title Edit

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.[1]

The rhyme was first recorded when published in The Top Book of All, for little Masters and Misses around 1760.[1]

Revival Edit

In November 2006 Jackanory returned with comedian John Sessions as the revived programme's first narrator reading the Lord of the Rings parody Muddle Earth, written by Paul Stewart (and illustrator Chris Riddell). The second narrator was Sir Ben Kingsley, reading The Magician of Samarkand by Alan Temperley. They were broadcast in three 15 minute slots on CBBC and BBC One and later repeated in their entirety on BBC One on consecutive Sundays.[2] The readings of Muddle Earth were heavily accompanied by animation and featured actors speaking lines (all animated characters were voiced by John Sessions), leading to criticism that the spirit of the original programme, a single voice telling a tale with minimal distractions, had been lost. (The original series had occasionally included dramatised material, in e.g. 1984's Starstormers by Nicholas Fisk, and increasingly so towards the end of its run in the mid-1990s.) The Magician of Samarkand was a similar production, without additional actors speaking lines; Ben Kingsley read not just the story, but also the lines of all the characters. Both of these stories were produced and directed by Nick Willing.[3][4]

Both stories were released on DVD in their entirety with added bonus features (galleries with images from the stories and a behind-the-scenes film for Muddle Earth).

Jackanory Junior Edit

A version of Jackanory for younger children—called Jackanory Junior—is shown on CBeebies.[5]

Stories Edit

A partial list of stories includes:

  • The Quest for Olwen
  • Little House in the Big Woods, read by Red Shiveley
  • Farmer Boy, read by Richard Monette
  • Cap of Rushes, read by Lee Montague
  • Mr. & Mrs. Vinegar, read by Lee Montague
  • Master of All Masters, read by Lee Montague
  • Tom Thumb, read by Lee Montague
  • Dick Whittington, read by Lee Montague
  • The Squirrel, the Hare and the Little Grey Rabbit, written by Alison Uttley, read by Wendy Hiller
  • How Little Grey Rabbit Got Back Her Tail, written by Alison Uttley, read by Wendy Hiller
  • Wise Owl's Story, by Alison Uttley, read by Wendy Hiller
  • Squirrel Goes Skating, written by Alison Uttley, read by Wendy Hiller
  • Little Grey Rabbit's Christmas, written by Alison Uttley, read by Wendy Hiller
  • The Snow Queen, written by Hans Christian Andersen, adapted by Anna Home, read by Enid Lorimer
  • The Wonderful Tar Baby, an Uncle Remus story, read by George Browne
  • Brer Rabbit Makes a Fool of Brer Fox, an Uncle Remus story, read by George Browne
  • Brer Rabbit Steals the Peas, an Uncle Remus story, read by George Browne
  • Brer Rabbit Goes Calling on Mrs. Goose, an Uncle Remus story, read by George Browne
  • Brer Rabbit Does Some Shopping, an Uncle Remus story, read by George Browne
  • Mary Poppins Comes Back, written by P.L. Travers, read by Hattie Jacques
  • The Musicians of Bremen Town, written by the Brothers Grimm, read by Dilys Hamlett
  • The Frog Prince, written by the Brothers Grimm, read by Dilys Hamlett
  • The Goose Girl, written by the Brothers Grimm, read by Dilys Hamlett
  • Pippi Longstocking (1968), written by Astrid Lindgren adapted by David Coulter, read by Joyce Grenfell
  • Rumpelstiltskin, written by the Brothers Grimm, read by Dilys Hamlett
  • The Twelve Dancing Princesses, written by the Brothers Grimm, read by Dilys Hamlett
  • The Wheet on the School, written by Meindert DeJong, read by Peter Settelen
  • Gulliver's Travels, written by Jonathan Swift, read by Alfred Marks
  • Gulliver in Space, written by J.G. Ballard, read by Alfred Marks
  • The Tale of Little Pig Robinson, written by Beatrix Potter, read by Margaret Rutherford
  • The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, written by Beatrix Potter, read by Margaret Rutherford
  • The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse, written by Beatrix Potter, read by Margaret Rutherford
  • The Tale of Mr. Tod, written by Beatrix Potter, read by Margaret Rutherford
  • Little Old Mrs. Pepperpot, written by Alf Prøysen, read by Ann Way (7 November 1966)
  • Queen of the Crows, written by Alf Prøysen, read by Ann Way (8 November 1966)
  • Mrs. Pepperpot Buys Macaroni, written by Alf Prøysen, read by Ann Way (9 November 1966)
  • Mrs. Pepperpot Tries to Please Her Husband, written by Alf Prøysen, read by Ann Way (10 November 1966)
  • The Ski-Race, written by Alf Prøysen, read by Ann Way (11 November 1966)
  • Mrs Pepperpot to the Rescue, written by Alf Prøysen, read by Patsy Rowlands (20 November 1970)
  • The Spider's Palace, written by Richard Hughes, read by: Gordon Rollings (1966) (1967)
  • The Dark Child, written by Richard Hughes, read by: Gordon Rollings (1966) (1967)
  • Living in W'ales, written by Richard Hughes, read by: Gordon Rollings (1966) (1967)
  • The Magic Glass, written by Richard Hughes, read by: Gordon Rollings (1966) (1967)
  • The Invitation, written by Richard Hughes, read by: Gordon Rollings (1966) (1967)
  • Finn Family Moomintroll, written by Tove Jansson, adapted by Philip Bate, read by Mai Zetterling
  • A Bear Called Paddington, written by Michael Bond, read by Thora Hird
  • The Happy Lion, written by Louise Fatio, read by Bridget Searle
  • The Happy Lion Roars, written by Louise Fatio, read by Bridget Searle
  • Three Happy Lions, written by Louise Fatio, read by Bridget Searle
  • The Happy Lion in Africa, written by Louise Fatio, read by Bridget Searle
  • Emil and the Detectives, written by Erich Kästner, translated by Eileen Hall, adapted by David Coulter[disambiguation needed], read by Lee Montague
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, written by Roald Dahl, read by Bernard Cribbins
  • James and the Giant Peach, written by Roald Dahl, read by Bernard Cribbins
  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, written by Roald Dahl, read by Elaine Stritch
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, read by Bernard Cribbins
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, read by Bernard Cribbins
  • Through the Looking-Glass, written by Lewis Carroll, read by Bernard Cribbins
  • The Bread Bin, written by Joan Aiken, read by Bernard Cribbins
  • The Hobbit, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, read by Bernard Cribbins
  • Arabel's Tree House, written by Joan Aiken, read by Bernard Cribbins
  • Uncle and His Detective, written by J.P. Martin, read by Spike Milligan
  • The Hundred and One Dalmatians, written by Dodie Smith, read by Sarah Greene
  • Matilda, written by Roald Dahl, read by Victoria Wood
  • Stories from the Isle of Man: The Buggane of St. Trinian's, (Season 6, Episode 5, 8 August 1969)

List of readers Edit

  • Joss Ackland (5 programmes reading Danny, the Champion of the World)
  • Tom Baker
  • Floella Benjamin
  • Alan Bennett
  • James Bolam
  • Helena Bonham Carter (5 programmes reading the Way to Sattin Shore stories)
  • Richard Briers
  • Kathy Burke
  • Earl Cameron (5 programmes reading the Brer Rabbit stories)
  • Brian Cant
  • Matthew Corbett
  • Bernard Cribbins (114 programmes)
  • Peter Davison
  • Angus Deayton
  • Judi Dench
  • Denholm Elliott
  • Rupert Everett
  • Jan Francis
  • Clement Freud
  • Ann George
  • John Grant (55 programmes reading his Little Nose stories)
  • Joyce Grenfell
  • Sheila Hancock
  • Susanne Hart
  • Lenny Henry
  • John Hurt
  • Wendy Hiller
  • Michael Hordern
  • Jeremy Irons
  • Roy Kinnear
  • Martin Jarvis
  • Stratford Johns
  • James Robertson Justice
  • Arthur Lowe
  • Joanna Lumley
  • Art Malik
  • Alfred Marks
  • Trevor Martin
  • Rik Mayall
  • Sylvester McCoy
  • Geraldine McEwan
  • Paul McGann
  • Ian McKellen
  • George Melly
  • Paul Merton
  • Spike Milligan
  • Hayley Mills
  • Lee Montague
  • Patrick Moore
  • Liam Neeson
  • Michael Palin
  • Jon Pertwee
  • Ted Ray
  • Miranda Richardson
  • Bob Roberts
  • Tony Robinson
  • Gordon Rollings
  • Patsy Rowlands
  • Willie Rushton
  • Alan Rickman
  • Margaret Rutherford
  • Prunella Scales
  • Peter Sellers
  • Elaine Smith
  • Maggie Smith
  • Patrick Stewart
  • John Stride[6]
  • Elaine Stritch
  • Mollie Sugden
  • H. E. Todd
  • Patrick Troughton
  • Ann Way
  • Mary Webster
  • Billie Whitelaw
  • Kenneth Williams (69 programmes)
  • Victoria Wood (reading the Ten in a Bed story)
  • Wendy Wood (Auntie Gwen) and even
  • Prince Charles (reading his own book; The Old Man of Lochnagar).
  • Ben Kingsley (The Magician of Samarkand)
  • John Sessions (Muddle Earth)

Cultural influence Edit

Philip Glenister, in character as Gene Hunt, made an appearance on Jackanory as the guest reader in the Ashes to Ashes series 2 finale, set in 1982, which Alex Drake (Keeley Hawes) imagines being transmitted to her television set.[7]

"Jackanory, jackanory" said by someone in the sing-song tones of the theme tune indicates that he/she thinks that someone else is making up or "stretching" a story, i.e. lying.[8]

In 2013 the UK TV Network Dave launched Crackanory as an adult version Jackanory. Each Crackanory episode features two 15-minute tales narrated by contemporary comedians and actors, containing a mix of live action and animation as per the original.[9]

Repeats Edit

BBC1 and BBC2 have broadcasted Jackanory from 1965 - 1997, CBBC on Choice have also broadcasted Jackanory but only two Christmas episodes "William - at Christmas - The Christmas Truce" originally broadcast on Jackanory on Friday 4th January 1985 and re-shown on Jackanory Gold on 22nd December 1996. and "Father Christmas Goes on Holiday" originally broadcast on Tuesday 8th March 1994 and re-shown on Jackanory Gold on 29th December 1996. It has been broadcast as "Jackanory Gold" which BBC2 broadcasted in 1996 and 1997 on Sundays. It was first broadcast on Christmas Weekend 1999 at 6.20am and 8.20am, Like Playschool, no regular episodes have been shown on CBBC on Choice and was not shown in Christmas 2000/2001.

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