Back in 1965, a programme aimed to stimulate an interest in reading, Jackanory, burst onto our screens. and now almost 50 years on it's time to welcome Crackanory.
Crackanory gets rid of all the cosiness from Jackanory and is packed full of darkly funny yarns that are firmly set in the cut and thrust of 21st century life. Each 15-minute episode features two 15-minute tales narrated by some of the best names in comedy such as Harry Enfield, Rebecca Front and Jessica Hynes.
These unique stories are brought to life with a mix of live action and animation. Set free from its childish shackles, Crackanory is a great new comedy for Dave which is original, funny and very witty - a perfect fit for the channel.
The first episode sees Jack Dee and Sally Phillips sit in the (soon to become legendary) Crackanory chair to read us two cracking bedtime stories. The first about Darren, who becomes the most hated man in the world within 15 minutes of tweeting a rude message to a pop superstar. A story which couldn't be more current and suitable for today's adults. The second story is about a much-loved toy maker who shocks his family by dying suddenly, only to return stuffed. Stuffed and shouting pre-recorded messages at them 24/7 that is.
Next week's episode sees the mighty Rebecca Front take on 'Fakespeare' a tale that tells of an author of erotic thrillers who has to rewrite an entire unknown Shakespeare play from scratch after accidentally destroying the manuscript to an unknown Shakespeare play. Kevin Eldon (It's Kevin) provides us with another delightful tale he's written himself.
A few months ago I was treated to a live rendition of 'The Teacup Has Landed', the tale Harry Enfield tells in episode 3, by not only Enfield, but Charlie Higson, Sally Phillips and Sarah Solemani. What was clear then was how simple storytelling had the ability to draw you in and allows you to use your imagination to play out the story.
Of course now the show has been finished there are live action and animation elements but even still it's clear the art of storytelling is alive and well and it's refreshing to see a show like this on television. Speaking of Solemani, she also stars in episode 3 with a tale about a downtrodden librarian who unexpectedly gains access to a top secret CIA site... and I won't ruin the ending for you.
The rest of the series includes tales of an unremarkable postman who turns himself into the perfect boyfriend for a girl he has fallen in love with by reading her mail and absorbing all her interests. Other storytellers include Sharon Horgan, Charlie Higson, Jessica Hynes and Richard Hammond, Stephen Mangan and Hugh Dennis. Each adding to a truly great cast list.
Hats off to the writers of each of the Crackanory stories too. Each one as bizarre, crazy, warm and funny as the next - a real treat. Some of the writers include Jason Cook (Hebburn), Holly Walsh and Kevin Eldon, who reads his own story and a newsreader who has the opportunity to change history when he interviews a dictator who falls asleep with a gun poking out of his pocket. I mean you couldn't make this stuff up. Well you could, and someone clearly has, but you get what I mean.
Crackanory is a truly refreshing show and I'm glad a channel like Dave has taken a punt on it. I hope this series runs and runs as it proves that you're never too old for a bedtime story. Especially if those storytellers include some of the countries best comedians and the short one from Top Gear.