A sweet item to start the week with a nice warm glow, this, as Kasterborous brings together the stars of Doctor Who to read a collection of children’s stories guaranteed to send you off to bed where you’ll have peaceful dreams and undisturbed slumber until morning. Pretty much the opposite of what you get from Doctor Who, really.
First up, courtesy of Radio Times, a quintet of new-Who stars appearing on BBC CBeebies’ Bedtime Story, the slot which aims to settle the little ones down at the end of the day and give their parents at least a sporting chance of getting them to bed with minimal tantrum action. The stories are very much aimed at a pre-school audience, as indicated by the amusingly informal introductions (“Hi! I’m David!”) and high prevalence of animal characters in the tales being recounted. The actors do a good job, in fairness, with particular plaudits going to Tennant and Kingston for their easy, engaging style. For my money John Simm is done no favours by his material, a tame tale about a rather middle class squirrel.
Now this is more like it. For kids who grew up in the UK in the 1970s and 1980s the BBC’s Jackanory slot was a compulsory part of the arriving home after school routine. Here we have Tom Baker in 1985, sporting a post-Doctor crew cut, reading Ted Hughes classic The Iron Man, a dark, brooding story that generations of kids have been disturbed by over the years. Now there’s a man who should have written for Doctor Who… Anyway, here’s Tom. I could listen to those rich chocolatey tones all day…
The undisputed king of Jackanory was Bernard Cribbins, his 111 appearances making him the most prolific reader from the programme’s original three decade run. Although Kenneth Williams was pretty good too. Cribbins was truly adored for the same avuncular charm he would later bring to the role of Wilf when he cropped up as Donna’s grandfather many years later. Here he’s reading Joan Aiken’s Mortimer’s Portrait on Glass in 1980:
Finally we take a slight diversion away from the TV show to enter the world of Big Finish with none other than the marvellous Sheridan Smith, Lucy Miller to Paul McGann’s Doctor in a great set of stories in recent years, the conclusion of which still makes me feel all delicate and emotional (sigh…). Here she is on Jackanory Junior, a revival of the classic show for younger viewers, again for CBeebies so inevitably it’s got talking animals in it…
Who would you have liked to read a Jackanory to you?