4. Jonny Briggs (1985)
Jonny Briggs is a Children’s BBC kitchen sink realism television programme first broadcast in 1985. It revolves around the exploits of a young boy, the eponymous hero (played by Richard Holian), his pet dog, Razzle, and his eccentric family members: Mam (Jane Lowe) and Dad (Leslie Schofield), older sister Rita (Sue Devaney) and older brothers Albert (Tommy Robinson) and Humph (Humphrey) (Jeremy Austin). Another older sister, Marilyn, is mentioned but never seen. The stories often centre on Jonny’s school life, where he and his best friend Pam are constantly in battle with the dreadful twins Ginny and Josie.
Previously some of the Jonny Briggs books by Joan Eadington were read on Jackanory. In the books Jonny has two more older sisters—Pat and Sandra. The programme is set in Middlesbrough, and was filmed in Bradford. The one thing to note however is that the TV show is more than likely set in Leeds based on the first episode in series one. Johnny has a Leeds united scarf on his bed, his mother makes reference to Yorkshire while complaining about her kids and everyone talks with a Yorkshire/East Lancashire accent. In series two episode fifteen the radio station is playing radio Leeds which at that time would be unlikely to be heard in Middlesbrough further giving credence to the show being based in Leeds, not Middlesbrough.
The theme tune “The Acrobat” composed by J A Greenwood in 1936 is considered synonymous with the series. The piece of music chosen for the programme was recorded by renowned trombonist Colin Buchanan.
5. Crackerjack (1955 – 1984)
Crackerjack! was a British children’s television series that aired on the BBC Television Service from 14 September 1955 until 21 December 1984 (except during 1971). The programme title included an exclamation mark. 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.
The show was introduced with the phrase “It’s Friday, it’s five o’clock. . . It’s Crackerjack!” or sometimes with “It’s Friday, it’s five to five. . . It’s Crackerjack!”
6. Record Breakers (1972-2001)
Record Breakers is a British children’s TV show, themed around world records and produced by the BBC. It was broadcast on BBC1 from 15 December 1972 to 21 December 2001. It was originally presented by Roy Castle with Guinness World Records founders twin brothers Norris McWhirter and Ross McWhirter. The programme was a spin-off series from Blue Peter which had featured record breaking attempts overseen by the McWhirter twins. Producers of the series over the years were, Alan Russell (its creator), Michael Forte, Eric Rowan, Greg Childs, Annette Williams and Jeremy Daldry.
The closing theme was “Dedication”, performed by Roy Castle, who broke nine world records on the show himself. As well as interviews with people who held British or World records, early editions of the programme would include a feature in which the studio audience would test the McWhirter brothers on their (almost infallible) knowledge of records, and the climax of each show would usually be a world record attempt in the studio
7. Jackanory (1965 – 1996)
Jackanory is a BBC children’s television series which was originally broadcast between 1965 to 1996. It was designed to stimulate an interest in reading. The show was first transmitted on 13 December 1965, and the first story was the fairy-tale “Cap-o’-Rushes” read by Lee Montague. Jackanory continued to be broadcast until 1996, with around 3,500 episodes in its 30-year run. The final story, The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne, was read by Alan Bennett and broadcast on 24 March 1996. The show was briefly revived on 27 November 2006 for two one-off stories, and the format was revived as Jackanory Junior on CBeebies between 2007-2009.
The show’s format, which varied little over the decades, involved an actor reading from children’s novels or folk tales, usually while seated in an armchair. From time to time the scene being read would be illustrated by a specially commissioned still drawing, often by Quentin Blake. Usually a single book would occupy five daily fifteen-minute episodes, from Monday to Friday. A spin-off series was Jackanory Playhouse (1972–85), which was a series of thirty-minute dramatisations. These included a dramatisation by Philip Glassborow of the comical A. A. Milne story “The Princess Who Couldn’t Laugh”.