TV Cream

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Asp discloses the identity of his favourite Crackerjack co-presenter The team catch sight of Stu Francis warming up for the next series

SALUTARY LESSON IN how to piss away the goodwill of an entire nation of kids. First came sedate desks ‘n’ buzzers 60s incarnation with a few muted sketches and the Crackerjack Pencils as prizes (you couldn’t just write in and ask for one, y’know, you had to EARN it!). The sainted EAMONN ANDREWS, PIP HINTON and LESLIE CROWTHER kept things ticking over with the right modicum of underwhelmed enthusiasm. Then came, however, invasion of music hall slapstick courtesy of troupe comprising PETER GLAZE, DON MACLEAN, JAN HUNT, LEIGH MILES, GILLIAN COMBER, BERNIE CLIFTON and hosts MICHAEL ASPEL and/or ED ‘STEWPOT’ STEWART. Stretched credibility – and viewers’ ear drums – to limit whenever gang decided, “spontaneously”, to break out of some sketch or other to reprise contemporary popular song of dizzying unsuitedness, such as Bowie’s ‘Golden Years’ or ‘Something for the Girl with Everything’, originally by Sparks, now by MacLean as he assaulted Glaze with an old boot. Programme as a whole still tolerable, though, until the 80s hoved into view and format was tweaked again to bring us – oh dear God – camp commandant STU FRANCIS. Cue gunge, shouting, irritating meaningless catchphrases (“Ooh, I could crush a grape/rip a tissue/pummel a peach”), The Fucking Krankies, The Great Soprendo (admittedly the one decent bit in it: “See this glass of milk? You see it? Right, you see it? Now it has gone, yes!”), Chas’n’Dave theme (“Lumberjack? No! Steeplejack? No! Uncle Jack? No!”) and dolly bird “assistants” who fed shit jokes to Stu for shit one-liners no kid could possibly understand/find funny (gags about Charles Aznavour for fuck’s sake). They even dropped Double Or Drop. Whole wretched noisy mess mercifully axed by Michael Grade.



  1. THX Kling Klang

    November 6, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    The big pile of prizes for Double or Drop was fascinating to me, more interesting than the game itself. Riches beyond avarice!

    Stewpot always used to casually drop the programme’s title into one line of conversation to see if he could catch the audience out, but they always noticed.

    Unfortunately for a generation Don MacLean will be recalled for Chris Morris explaining the term “bashing the bishop” to him instead of mangling pop songs on this show.

  2. jabberwocky

    April 15, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    This isn’t the first time I’ve come across an article on here purporting to be amusing, but isn’t.

    Where does TV Cream get it’s writers from? Down the local pub?

  3. mattjames

    December 9, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Ahhhh….I used to be scared of the gunge tanks….Francis getting it every week pretty much (usually because the visual effects guys just wanted to gunge everyone.

    I posted a clip on YouTube where Sara Hollamby was dragged under the “Boot Polish” and can’t help thinking it was a staged stunt-this sort of thing probably didn’t do much for it surviving the Grade axe!

  4. Tom Ronson

    March 25, 2022 at 3:48 pm

    I’ll have you know that the Stu Francis / Great Soprendo era of Crackerjack was MY era, and I bloody loved it. The Krankies, not so much, but as with so much variety-based telly, you had to take the good with the bad.

  5. Glenn Aylett

    March 25, 2022 at 9:23 pm

    @ Tom Ronson, one classic joke that sticks in my mind from the Stu Grape Francis years, Francis offers Jimmy Krankie a lift to the school disco and Wee Jimma comments,” your car is so old the speedometer is in Roman numerals.” Fandabeedozy indeed.
    Also it turned out the squeaky clean Krankies weren’t so clean after all and used to attend swingers parties.

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