Crackerjack! (TV series)

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Crackerjack
GenreChildren's television
Created byJohnny Haddon Downes
Presented byEamonn Andrews (1955–64)
Leslie Crowther (1964–68)
Michael Aspel (1968–74)
Ed Stewart (1975–79)
Stu Francis (1980–84)
Sam & Mark (2020–)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series29 (original)
1 (revival)
No. of episodes451 (original)[1]
10 (revival)
Production
Running time40 minutes
Release
Original networkBBC Television Service (1955-84)
CBBC (2020–)
Picture format4:3 (1955-84)
16:9 (2020–)
Original releaseOriginal series:
14 September 1955 (1955-09-14) – 21 December 1984 (1984-12-21)
Revived series:
17 January 2020 (2020-01-17) –
present

Crackerjack is a British children's television series that aired on the BBC Television Service from 14 September 1955 until 21 December 1984 (except during 1971).[2]

On 11 February 2019, it was announced that Crackerjack would return in 2020, 35 years after it was last aired. It is now hosted by Sam & Mark and is aired on CBBC since 17 January 2020.[3]

Presenters[edit]

Through its long run it featured Eamonn Andrews, Max Bygraves, Leslie Crowther, Ed "Stewpot" Stewart, Joe Baker, Jack Douglas, Stu Francis, Peter Glaze, Don Maclean, Michael Aspel, Christine Holmes, Jacqueline Clarke, Stuart Sherwin, Little and Large, Jan Hunt, The Krankies, Basil Brush, Geoffrey Durham, Bernie Clifton, Rod McLennan and Ronnie Corbett amongst many others.

Among the performers who appeared as singers/dancers, assisting the host with games, were Sally Ann Triplett (Series 26; as a member of the duo Bardo, Sally Ann represented the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest 1982), Leigh Miles (Series 26–27; Leigh was also a popular "Hills Angel" in The Benny Hill Show), Julie Dorne-Brown (Series 27–28; later MTV VJ "Downtown" Julie Brown), Sara Hollamby (Series 28–29; now a television news and travel reporter), Ling Tai (Series 29), Petula Clark, Jillian Comber and Pip Hinton.

Format[edit]

Prizegiving on Crackerjack with Eamonn Andrews c. 1958

The shows were frantic, being broadcast live in front of an audience largely of children, originally at the King's Theatre[4] on Hammersmith Road, London, used by the BBC as the King's Studio for live and recorded broadcasts until 1963, then at the BBC Television Theatre (now the Shepherds Bush Empire). The format of the programme included competitive games for teams of children, a music spot, a comedy double act, and a finale in which the cast performs a short comic play, adapting popular songs of the day and incorporating them into the action.

One of the games was a quiz called "Double or Drop", where each of three contestants was given a prize to hold for each question answered correctly, but given a cabbage if they were incorrect. They were out of the game if they dropped any of the items awarded or received a third cabbage. While the winner took his or her pick from a basket of toys, every runner-up won a much-envied marbled propelling pencil as a prize, which became so popular that in 1961 Queen Elizabeth was presented with Crackerjack pencils for Anne and Charles.[2]

In 1982, in a bid to boost flagging ratings, Crackerjack introduced gunge into its games and launched a new game called 'Take a Chance' in which the celebrity guests - one female, one male - could score extra points for the contestant they teamed up with by competing against Stu Francis in a quickfire question tie. A wrong answer or the opponent answering first would lead to Francis or the celebrity guest being covered in gunge.

Cancellation[edit]

Crackerjack was cancelled in 1984 at the same time as many other long-running series, in an overhaul of the BBC Children's department.

In 1987 Stu Francis hosted Crush a Grape on ITV, which followed a similar format to his era of Crackerjack. It lasted for two series.[original research?]

Transmissions[edit]

Original[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 14 September 1955 28 March 1956 15
2 12 September 1956 20 March 1957 14
3 9 October 1957 19 March 1958 12
4 10 September 1958 4 March 1959 13
5 1 October 1959 31 March 1960 14
6 29 September 1960 27 April 1961 16
7 19 October 1961 3 May 1962 15
8 13 September 1962 25 April 1963 17
9 26 September 1963 7 May 1964 17
10 9 October 1964 26 March 1965 23
11 1 October 1965 25 March 1966 26
12 7 October 1966 31 March 1967 26
13 6 October 1967 16 February 1968 20
14 13 September 1968 14 March 1969 26
15 26 September 1969 13 February 1970 19
16 7 January 1972 31 March 1972 13
17 2 February 1973 20 April 1973 12
18 4 January 1974 29 March 1974 13
19 3 January 1975 31 March 1975 13
20 24 December 1975 26 March 1976 14
21 7 January 1977 1 April 1977 13
22 6 January 1978 7 April 1978 14
23 29 September 1978 15 December 1978 12
24 28 September 1979 14 December 1979 13
25 26 September 1980 19 December 1980 13
26 2 October 1981 18 December 1981 12
27 22 October 1982 24 December 1982 10
28 30 September 1983 23 December 1983 13
29 28 September 1984 21 December 1984 13

Only 148 out of 451 episodes from the original 29 series of the show survive in the BBC archives. The earliest episode known to exist is Episode 12 of series 3 with Eamonn Andrews; of his tenure, Episode 16 of Series 6, Episode 2 of Series 7, Episode 3 of Series 8 and Episodes 1 and 17 of Series 9 also survive. None of the Leslie Crowther episodes are known to exist, and two episodes only (Episodes 12-13 of Series 18) of the Michael Aspel period survive. However, all of the Ed Stewart (Series 19-24) and Stu Francis (Series 25-29) periods remain.[1]

Revival[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 17 January 2020 20 March 2020 10

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "TVBrain | Kaleidoscope | Lost shows | TV Archive | TV History". tvbrain.info.
  2. ^ a b "BBC - (none) - Factual - Crackerjack!". bbc.co.uk.
  3. ^ "Crackerjack is coming back with Sam and Mark presenting". BBC News. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Theatres and Halls in Hammersmith, London". arthurlloyd.co.uk.

External links[edit]