When Crackanory first arrived on Dave last November, many weren't sure whether a show where well-known faces read bedtime stories to adults would work. Luckily it did and this week sees the series return with an even better line-up of familiar faces, including the late Rik Mayall in his last television performance.
Each of the narrators this series deliver their story from the now iconic Crackanory chair situated a the heart of a fabulously impressive set. Each episode features two tales read by two different storytellers alongside a mixture of live action and animated. Last week I was invited along to the launch at BAFTA to watch four of the stories from the new series.
The first episode consists of two stories, In Space No One Can Hear You Clean, written by Nico Tatarowicz and read by Vic Reeves and The Weather Man, written by Tony Wray and read by Rik Mayall.
I recently went to the launch at BAFTA where I was lucky enough to watch these two episodes and as a huge fan of both Reeves and Mayall it was a real treat to watch the stories unfold on a big screen. Two very different stories may I add!
Vic Reeves tells a story of a woman who becomes the first cleaner in space after a bit of a mixup with her schedule. It's not just any space visit though, it's the first manned mission to Mars. Whilst you think you may know where the story is going, I guarantee you'll be surprised by the ending.
2014 has been a very sad year for comedy as we lost one of our great comedy talents, Rik Mayall. Best known for playing Rick in The Young Ones, Richie in Bottom and more recently Dad in Man Down, Rik sadly passed away in June at the age of 56.
When he passed away it was revealed that Rik was set to appear in the new series of Crackanory, and that his episode would only be shown if his family gave their blessing. Luckily they did, and what a final performance it was.
A show like Crackanory is perfect for someone like Rik Mayall, and out of all of the episodes I've watched, both from series one and series two, Rik's story is my favourite.
Not only is the story very good, but Rik's way of telling the story really lifts it from the page and it's great to see him really lift the story from the page and give it his all.
So what's his story all about? Well, in case you couldn't tell from the title (The Weather Man) his story is indeed about a weather man, a mild-mannered weatherman from a local news network who realises that he can control the weather by making up the forecasts.
Oh and look out for a very special cameo from a weather legend at the end of Rik's story. I'm really pleased that Rik's final on screen wasn't a let down, it had all the wit, charm and humour you'd come to expect from a performer like him.
It's hard to believe that he is no longer with us as I remember sneakily switching my TV on when I was a young boy to watch Bottom, a programme which I shouldn't have really been watching. Even when I watch Bottom today I'm gripped by Rik's irreverent performance. He really was one in a million, and the outpouring of tributes when he died proved just how loved he was and how he will be remembered as one of our true comedy heroes. RIP Rik Mayall.
Another story that was screened at BAFTA, was Meera Syal's from episode four, The Obituary Writer which was written by Katherine Jakeaways and tells the story of an obituary writer for a local paper. Again, the title kind of gave that away.
She resorts to killing well-known members of her community in order to have something to write about and ultimately keep her job. Will anyone find out what she is up to? And if the do... what will they do about it?
And finally the brilliant Ben Miller tells a story in episode two called Man's Best Friend, written by Alex Kirk.
The story is about a Victorian amateur scientist who transplants the brain of his beloved dead dog into the body of a beautiful stranger, creating the perfect wife... or so he thinks. Both Meera and Ben have such clear voices that I could sit and listen to them tell stories all day long.
Vic and Rick have their own way of telling a story and choose to tell it more theatrically and put a lot of energy into ensuring the audience at home are entertained. A good story is only half the battle in a programme like Crackanory, the rest of the battle is ensuring the story is well told.
Other storytellers in the new series are Sue Perkins, David Mitchell, Katherine Parkinson, Johnny Vegas, Warwick David, Emilia Fox, Simon Callow and Ruby Wax, with stories that range from a TV talent show producer getting crushed to death by a contestant through to a convict escaping from prison by mailing herself out as a parcel!
If you thought the last series was good, wait until you see the new one. In my opinion it's much better. The talent is stronger, the stories are more engaging and when the series is over, I'm going to miss the bedtime stories at 9pm on a Wednesday.