Crackerjack! (TV programme)
|Created by||Johnny Haddon Downes|
|Presented by||Eamonn Andrews (1955–64)|
Leslie Crowther (1964–68)
Michael Aspel (1968–74)
Ed Stewart (1975–79)
Stu Francis (1980–84)
Sam & Mark (2020–)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||29 (original)|
|No. of episodes||451 (original)|
|Running time||40 minutes|
|Original network||BBC Television Service (1955-64)|
BBC One (1964-84)
|Picture format||4:3 (1955-84)|
|Original release||Original series:|
14 September 1955 – 21 December 1984
17 January 2020 –
Crackerjack is a British children's television series that initially aired on the BBC Television Service between 14 September 1955 and 21 December 1984 (with no series in 1971). The series was a variety show featuring comedy sketches, singers and quizzes, broadcast live with an audience.
On 11 February 2019, it was announced Crackerjack would return in 2020, 35 years after it was last aired. It is now hosted by Sam & Mark, with an exclamation mark added to its original title, and has aired on CBBC since 17 January 2020. The second revived Crackerjack! series was confirmed to start filming in October 2020.
Its initial long run 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.
Performers who appeared as singers/dancers, assisting the host with games, included 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 Hill's 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), Jillian Comber and Pip Hinton.
The shows were frantic, being broadcast live in front of an audience largely of children, originally at the King's Theatre 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 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.
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. The gunge was always given a name relating to a random theme or to the celebrity guest (Howling Wind for Ian McCaskill, for example) and usually the ladies escaped clean!
Crackerjack was cancelled in 1984 at the same time as many other long-running series, in an overhaul of the BBC Children's department.
|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.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||17 January 2020||20 March 2020||10|
|2||11 December 2020||5 March 2021||10|
- "TVBrain | Kaleidoscope | Lost shows | TV Archive | TV History". tvbrain.info.
- "BBC - (none) - Factual - Crackerjack!". bbc.co.uk.
- Sheridan, Simon (2004). The A-Z of Classic Children's Television: From Alberto Frog to Zebedee. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. pp. 89–93. ISBN 1903111277.
- "Crackerjack is coming back with Sam and Mark presenting". BBC News. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
- "Theatres and Halls in Hammersmith, London". arthurlloyd.co.uk.
- "Crush a Grape". UKGameshows. Retrieved 19 December 2020.