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Crackerjack 2020 Revival

It's Friday, it's 6 o'clock... (January 2020)

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Whataday Founding member
I could see Crackerjack repeated on a Saturday early evening on BBC One which might be a good launch for Sam & Mark outside of CBBC.
Steve Williams
Seeing this being revived, does anyone remember The Friday Zone which was on CBBC around 1997 which was kind of like a successor to Crackerjack although focussed mainly on sketches?

Yes, in 1997 as you say -

As you can see, it ran for over an hour, and there were cartoons within it, I guess a bit like a Saturday morning programme on a Friday teatime. An impressive cast, but I don't remember it being very good at all, I remember it was chopped down to half an hour during the run, and I also remember Ant and Dec taking the piss out of it on Unzipped.

They tried on a few occasions to create a Crackerjack-style show for Friday afternoons, in 1987 there was What's All This Then which featured sketches, games and pop - - and then that mutated into The Satellite Show which ran for two years - And of course in 1988 Border virtually remade Crackerjack as Crush A Grape with Stu Francis for ITV.

In Anna Home's book about kids TV, written when she was Head of Children's Programmes at the Beeb in 1993, she reflects on how they'd tried a number of shows on a Friday that tried to create an atmosphere a bit like Crackerjack but none of them had caught on and "maybe it is time to forget about it and try something else".

I'm just old enough to remember the Stu Francis era and I'm amazed by how good that was, definitely a lot of respect for the heritage but superbly modernised. The format evolved over the years of the original run, of course, and you could certainly imagine this incarnation as where it would have got to had it continued.

Nice that they have a big studio (where was it?) so they can do pieces like that fire dance - that would never have worked at TV Theatre!

Yes, I just about caught the fag end of Crackerjack, one of my earliest childhood memories is watching Stu Francis' last series at my friend Russell's house. As you suggest, I reckon it looks much better than it ever used to, looking at the TV Theatre episodes they are incredibly static and they don't have much space at all. It also seems much more live as well, even though it isn't - under Stu there were loads of obvious edits where the set was redressed.

As Anna Home's book points out, the concept of Crackerjack owed just as much to logistics as any inspiration - in 1955 Studio E at Lime Grove, the main studio for children's programmes, was going to be out of action for a few weeks and so they needed somewhere else, and the producer Johnny Downes suggested using the TV Theatre and invented the format on the spot.

Asa posted:
It was probably always going to be decent when you've got the juggernauts of Steve Ryde and Jamie Wilson at the helm Smile

Indeed, Jamie Wilson clearly loves the heritage of CBBC as Saturday Mash-Up and the Broom Cupboard anniversary illustrates. And the presence of Steve Ryde also meant we got Ted Robbins and the great Ian Kirkby, who's such a funny actor.

Sam & Mark played Take a Letter on Children In Need and the letter board looked the same style as the new Crackerjack set so I'm guessing we'll see lots of old games throughout the series.

Yes, and they also did it on Blue Peter on Thursday, so presumably they will swap the games around during the run. Top marks to the girl who suggested the first episode was broadcast in 60AD.

This from 1979 and a cold open followed by a very short fanfare instead of a theme tune.

Yes, there was no theme tune in the seventies, and when Michael Hurll took over in 1980 it got a short-lived theme that only lasted one series...

Then the Chas and Dave theme was introduced in 1981. Of course, Michael Hurll took over Crackerjack and Top of the Pops at the same time, and on both shows he was responsible for some rather radical revamps, and indeed giving the shows theme tunes.

The amount of pure love that seems to have gone into this production is an absolute joy.

I would totally agree with this.
Steve in Pudsey, Custard56 and Inspector Sands gave kudos
I could see Crackerjack repeated on a Saturday early evening on BBC One which might be a good launch for Sam & Mark outside of CBBC.

I completely agree. I've only just watched it, I wasn't going to but saw the hype, read this thread, watched the whole show, even had a few tears (of joy!) I kind of remember the end of the Ed Stewart era but was a big Stu Francis era fan.

As someone said before the whole thing was pure joy from start to finish. CBBC obviously isn't for me and Crackerjack is a kids show, but it does seem 'hidden' away and an early evening weekend slot on BBC One seems right for this. Again I haven't really followed their careers beyond Pop Idol, Masterchef etc but Sam and Mark were superb hosts and deserve a wider audience.

Lovely stuff.

44 days later

The theme was by originally performed by Chaz & Dave:

That brings back some memories from my "yoof". Very Happy

"Ooooh! I could crush a grape!" Smile Smile

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