Sunday, 20 October 2013

Crackerjack May 1964


Clips from this edition of Crackerjack have has featured in several documentaries (Danny Baker's programme on Peter Glaze and The Unforgettable Leslie Crowther) but I haven't seen it since a repeat on TV in the late eighties.

It's Eamon Andrews' final programme and although I probably saw it as a kid I don't remember it from then: for me Crackerjack was always presented by Leslie Crowther, but Pip Hinton and Gillian Comber  and of course Peter Glaze are present and correct in memory, though I seem to remember Gilliam Comber as more maternal, less glam.


The finale is as usual, with pop songs stuffed into the burlesque of a Prisoner of Zenda type story - apparently it had recently been a TV serial. At the end, Andrews, as every presenter since, makes an appearance, and Crowther presents him with a silver salver before they start singing again.

Throughout, you're aware that Andrews is not the most natural of performers though I don't know whether he chose to leave or not. I suppose this would have been the time of his chat show (mercilessly and repeatedly parodied in Round the Horne as the Seamus Android Show), so the answer is probably yes, but it's interesting to see a performer without the ability to paper over the cracks, and he is clearly moved and awkward at the end.

Of the two women, Pip Hinton (an experienced revue performer) is obviously the more able comedienne and makes a good double act with Leslie Crowther; a tiny little burst of a dance routine in The Unforgettable Leslie Crowther can now be enjoyed in full. And you're always aware that you're watching something live. The quiz and the game I can take or leave, but the rest of this show will awaken many happy memories for British readers in their mid fifties and over.

I wonder how many other editions are in existence? The Danny Baker programme featured a clip of a finale with a parody of Nervous Norvus's Apecall from the Eamon Andrews era, and I've seen a clip featuring Ronnie Corbett when he was a resident performer, but I'd love to see the programmes from Leslie Crowther time as a presenter, though I doubt whether many now exist. All together now: "It's Friday ... it's five to five ..."

Anyway, I'd never seen this edition of Crackerjack on youtube before so thought I'd share. For those who aren't aware of it I once tried to do a Crackerjack finale-type version of King Lear and set up a blog devoted to that purpose. Stupidly, however, I put a lot of posts into draft form in order to revise them whereupon they promptly disappeared. It's not really worth resurrecting but the introductory post, supposedly written by a deranged Crackerjack fanatic, is here and it's the only one which has survived if you want to look at it. I admit that the idea had diminishing returns with each successive post anyway.

May 1964. That's almost fifty years ago. And August 1964 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of Freddie "Parrotface" Davies' appearance on Opportunity Knocks. You can read a post about Freddie here. I understand that his autobiography will be out soon, so that's one to watch for. A longtime TV star in the UK, Freddie may be best known in America for the cult film Funny Bones.


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