Wednesday, 25 November 2009

We Want Our Jackanory Back!

Bernard Cribbins would like to see Jackanory return to its original format, and who can blame him?  The popular, although admittedly less than it had been, show which featured a guest storyteller relate a classic or contemporary tale to camera in short chunks over five episodes was finally removed from Children's BBC schedules in 1996 after thirty one years on air.

Ok, we're probably all a bit old to be watching children's programming now - and, in some cases, so are our kids - but didn't we have it a bit better in our day?  Kids could get a pang of excitement at the notion that the wonderfully expressive and captivating Kenneth Williams may soon be nasally narrating one of their favourite books and, for many, it was an introduction to such wonderful talents as Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Cribbins himself.  For me it was Rik Mayall and his legendarily frantic re-telling of Roald Dahl's 'George's Marvellous Medicine'.  I doubt I have ever looked forward to a serialised show as much as I did that week and remember audibly cheering when I found out it was to be repeated.

It's such a shame that technology so frequently has to get in the way.  Disney movies now come exclusively in CGI and, while they're almost universally entertaining, some of the old 2D line-drawing magic is sorely missing.  Sadly, children's programming has also been forced to "move with the times" with show formats changed to involve heavily-edited reality sections, classic swashbuckling animation replaced with gross-out lewdness and even the good lady Blue Peter looking less shipshape and in danger of retirement with every year.

I'm not asking for a second appearance from Prince Charles, presumably to read the compelling sequel to "The Old Man of Lochnagar" - the most famous, yet most boring passages to make it to the show.  I simply think there is still a place for tradition on television - parents still read to children in bed so why should their day be full of bangs, zaps, farts and sob stories?

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