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Kenneth Williams in a publicity shot from James & The Giant Peach (Jackanory)

This storytelling series was developed by Joy Whitby (with Anna Home and Molly Cox) as a way of bringing children's fiction to television, at a time when Department budgets made drama productions unaffordable. The title came from an old rhyme, half-remembered by Cox and Home: "I'll tell you a story of Jackanory, and now my story's begun..."

Recurring fiction series either popularised by Jackanory or written specially for the programme included adventures featuring Arabel and pet crow Mortimer (written by

Joan Aiken, illustrated by Quentin Blake and read by Bernard Cribbins), Littlenose the Caveboy (written, read and illustrated by John Grant), Jonny Briggs (Joan Eadington 's stories told by Bernard Holley) and ace detective Agaton Sax (by Nils-Olof Franzen, read by Kenneth Williams).

Initially Jackanory used the simplest form of television presentation - a talking head reading to camera with cross fades to static illustrations. By the mid-'80s more sophisticated techniques were often used. Jackanory was very popular with actors - a week's episodes involved half a day's rehearsal and, with autocue, no need to memorise lines. By far the most prolific Jackanory readers were Kenneth Williams with 69 appearances and Bernard Cribbins with 111.

Jackanory was greatly appreciated by Kenneth Williams, as he loved children and they found his quirky face-pulling very appealing. In 1975 the show celebrated its 10th anniversary by holding a writing competition, the winning entrants picked would have their story read by a star guest. One of the winners was David Benson, his Rag and Bone Man story was read by Kenneth Williams and David later celebrated this memory in his stage-show tribute to Kenneth Williams.

As well as the original BBC transmissions, some of Kenneth's Jackanory's have previously been released on audio-cassette. Repeats on television have also been broadcast many years later on the satellite channel UK Gold. As for the final history of Jackanory, the generally increasing pace of television eventually made Jackanory appear slow and outdated, leading to its cancellation in 1996. However, In 2005 the BBC announced plans for its return, although on special occasions rather than as a full series.

Episode Guide
KW Radio Times Article
The Rag & Bone Man.mp3