Second Picture: Peter Glaze and Leslie Crowther
Crackerjack 1955 - 1984 (UK)
Probably the best remembered children’s TV programme was Crackerjack, I know that as a kid I never missed it! The programmme was filmed in front of an audience of mainly children at the BBC Television Theatre (now the Shepherds Bush Empire). The format included games for teams of children, a music spot, a comedy double act and a finale in which the cast performed a short comic play, adapting popular songs and incorporating them into the action.
One of the highlights of the show was called Don and Pete, being Don Maclean and Peter Glaze in a silent comedy style section lasting about five minutes. Shows had them fishing, as sweepers, barbers, at a riding school, on a building site, on a farm, at a circus, window cleaners, bellboys, removals, etc.
One of the most memorable games was the quiz called "Double or Drop", where each contestant was given a prize to hold for each question answered correctly, but given a cabbage if they answered incorrectly. They were out of the game if they dropped any of the items they were holding or received a third cabbage.
It was an unwritten rule that whenever a presenter said the word 'Crackerjack', the audience would shout "Crack-er-jack!" loudly. This custom has passed into popular culture. A standard consolation prize to children who appeared on the show was the Crackerjack Pencil (later upgraded to a Crackerjack pen). These were kept in a special locked cabinet and only handed out to people who had won them and when an official asked for one once, he was refused. One exception was made in 1961 when the Queen visited the set and was given pencils for Prince Charles and Princess Anne.
The show was introduced with the phrase "It's Friday, it's five o’clock . . . It's Crackerjack.
In 1977 a talent contest element was added, this was "Crackerjack Young Entertainer of The Year" and featured children who had successfully passed audition stages. In 1982, in a bid to try and boost flagging ratings, Crackerjack introduced gunge into its games and launched a new game called 'Take a Chance' in which the celebrity guests could score extra points for the contestant they had teamed up with. Failure to answer questions correctly led to Stu Francis and/or the celebrity guest being covered in gunge.
Crackerjack was cancelled in 1984 at the same time as many other long running series.
Now who do you remember?
The Main Hosts were:- Eamonn Andrews, Leslie Crowther, Michael Aspel, Ed "Stewpot" Stewart and Stu Francis
Others who appeared regularly, firstly the blokes:- Jack Douglas, Joe Baker, Ronnie Corbett, Peter Glaze (he always seemed to be there!), Don Maclean and Bernie Clifton,
The ladies were:- Jillian Comber, Pip Hinton, Christine Holmes, Jacqueline Clarke, Jan Hunt, Leigh Mile.
And also in later years:- The Krankies, The Great Soprendo (Geoffrey Durham) and Basil Brush.
The first show was transmitted on 12th September 1955 and soon each week thousands of kids would pile into the Theatre for the filming.
The programmes creator was Johnny Downes, who also produced a number of other shows, including Call My Bluff, David Nixon's shows, Child's Play and The Basil Brush Show.
Some odd facts about the programme that you may not know or may have forgoten:- Contrary to popular belief, Crackerjack wasn't always screened on a Friday, but was shunted around the schedules. It wasn't until the 1970s that a regular Friday slot was established.
During its heyday the Crackerjack pencil was as coveted as the Blue Peter badge is today. Were kids were easily pleased in those days?
In 1958 comedy and song was provided by Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson, the husband and wife duo who famously came second in the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest with their song Sing Little Birdie.
A number of big names made early appearances on Crackerjack to promote their pop career, including Adam Faith, Tom Jones, The Bee Gees, The Who and Status Quo.
Over the years a number of Crackerjack annuals were produced. The 1969 annual, for example contained a Don Maclean and Peter Glaze comic strip, a look at the history of clowns, 'Crackerjack games for boys and tomboys', plus classic jokes.
Peter Glaze was actually an accomplished actor, and can be seen (although, you'd be hard pushed to recognise him) in an early Doctor Who.
Double or Drop was devised by Eamonn Andrews. When he left the show he took the format with him, and so the show's most popular fixture disappeared. In the 70s a deal was made and the game returned.
You may have be wondering how many episodes were made and transmitted the answer is 400!!!
Ah! Those memories!!
Stay in touch,
Anida sends this clip take a look!!!
I was looking at the photo's again today and the skating rink was where I spent many an hour learning to skate and then to roller dance. Dad and I were only talking about it last week. When we last visited Southsea I took my husband Tony to see it. Not a lot has changed except you can use a skateboard there now. When I first moved to Broadstairs we used to visit the skating rink in Dreamland most weeks, I could out dance most of my friends. Then I got married and had the kids and was not able to skate anymore. I love to have a go now but the old arthritis would play havoc for weeks after.
News and Views:
Ringo Starr briefly shared the stage with a 17 year-old brain cancer patient at the Hard Rock Café in Los Angeles on March 31 and later awarded the drum set to the boy, who told his father he dreamed he met Ringo. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the dream came true.
On this day 10th April 1960-1965.
On 10/04/1960 the number one single was My Old Man's a Dustman - Lonnie Donegan and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was The Budget (All Channels) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 10/04/1961 the number one single was Wooden Heart - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmatians. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 10/04/1962 the number one single was Wonderful Land - The Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was The Budget (All Channels) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Film director Michael Curtiz and ex Beatle Stu Sutcliffe die.
On 10/04/1963 the number one single was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Atomic US submarine sinks killing 129.
On 10/04/1964 the number one single was Can't Buy Me Love - The Beatles and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Beatles have 13 records in US chart.
On 10/04/1965 the number one single was Concrete & Clay - Unit 4 Plus 2 and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.