TV review: Crackanory will struggle to have one tenth of the lifespan of its role model


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The Independent Culture

In January 1966, a 17-year-old model, Lesley Hornby, had her hair cut short by celebrity Mayfair stylist Leonard – and Twiggy and her gamine crop went on to become an icon of the Swinging Sixties.

One month earlier, in December 1965, Jackanory, a BBC1 teatime programme in which someone famous (usually an actor) read a children's story, made its debut, going on to endure for 30 years and become an indelible part of generations of British childhoods.

These adults are presumably the market for Crackanory, which began on UKTV channel Dave last night, the publicity putting it this way: "Imagine if Jackanory was set free from its childish shackles. What beautifully funny tales about life in the 21st century would it unleash upon the world?" Beautifully funny might be overstating it, but the opening duo were amusing enough.

Sally Phillips and Jack Dee were first up, Dee sitting in a suitably horrible, retro-beige leather swivel-chair in the midst of a book-strewn room that made him look like a disappointed college lecturer. He was Tony Shales from Fresh Meat without Shales's hope that he might yet be saved by poetry and the love of a young undergraduate. "Hello, I'm Jack," Dee began his cautionary tale about Twitter in that catatonic monotone with which he has built an entire career. "I'm here to tell a story that explores the jolly idea that Western culture is completely finished."

Clever Sally Phillips was better at replicating the slightly bonkers condescension of some Jackanory readers with "What Phoebe Did Next" ("a story about toys, grief and taxidermy"). Again it was quite amusing and also presumably quite cheap to make, so there might be future series, although Crackanory will struggle to have one tenth of the lifespan of its role model. In hairdressing terms, I think it is more likely to be an "elephant trunk" (who remembers that 40 years on? Well, quite) than a bob or a bubble perm.