Now, Jackanory was one of those BBC Children’s programmes that went a very long way to making my childhood what it was. Of course it was around long before the 80s, starting in 1965 and continuing right up until 1996. However, it was a constant through the 80s – well at least up until I started getting in too late to watch it. It’s funny, but although it was on every night (well it seemed like it was) there are only a couple or three of the storytellers that stick out in my mind.
The first one who springs top mind is Bernard Cribbins. Now he was the most prolific of all time, so he must have been quite a feature on the show throughout the 80s. I’m hoping that my memory’s not playing tricks on me here, but I am sure that one of the characters to whom he gave life to was Mortimer, aka Arabel’s Raven. Written by Joan Aiken and illustrated by Quentin Blake, Mortimer and Arabel got to up to lots of high jinks in the thirteen books that she wrote from 1972 to 1995. Cribbin’s (who else would it have been?) gave voice to Mortimer’s two word vocabulary “Kaaark!” and “Nevermore!” with a certain gusto.
Then there were Kenneth Williams’ various tellings of stories on the show. His rendition of Agaton Sax was particularly memorable as were his versions of Sneeze and Be Slain and James and the Giant Peach. Mind you I laughed like a mindless thing at most stuff involving Kenenth Williams throughout the decade. Finally there were the Jonny Briggs stories as written by Joan Eadington and told by Bernard Holley. These were delivered in a calm easy manner by Holley and are for me perhaps the most easily remembered of all the Jackanory episodes.