So Jackanory is to return. Excellent commissioning work from Alison Sharman, new Children’s BBC controller, ignoring advice and putting something on BECAUSE SHE LIKED IT WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD. We should hope for revivals of Andy Pandy and the Woodentops forthwith (actually she is not THAT old. Think more Xtreme Mary, Mungo & Midge). This commissioning nouse also brought back her favourite Ask The Family, her hunches are not always cast iron.
Jackanory is surely a fantastically cheap programme to make. You need
a) A sleb who can read
b) A book for them to read
Whilst a) might be difficult if Fran Cosgrave is the only level of celebrity you can get, there is still plenty of give in the format. The take is in the fact that actually most kids books only appeal to a smallish subsection of the audience. Therefore a terrific Agerton Sax reading would be followed, when I was small, by some godawful girlie book, or even worse: something about horses (My My Friend Flicka Hell).
None of this explains why it was cancelled in the first place. From a public service point-of-view Jackanory delivers everything but audience. It is interesting the way this is tied to a resurgence in children reading. The reason for this is Harry Potter of course. Ironically, the month Bloomsbury bought Harry Potter was the month of the last Jackanory.
A word of caution though to the BBC. It is ALL about the readers. A good book helps, but there is a reason by Bernard Cribbins did it so often. Oh and Media Guardian: the “I’ll Tell You A Story…” theme tune was dropped in the mid-seventies.