What happened to the stars of Crackerjack? From alcoholism to SWINGING confessions, the VERY unexpected paths taken by the show’s hosts and its quirky guests
- BBC’s Crackerjack! is set to return to our screens for the first time in 35 years
- Here Femail looks at what happened to the show’s presenters and regular guests
- From alcoholism to publishing books on religion and even admitting to dabbling in swinging the show’s stars have lead very colourful lives in its aftermath
Crackerjack! is set to return to our screens for the first time in 35 years the BBC has today announced.
With almost 500 episodes spanning 29 years many of us will have grown up waiting for the Friday night after-school favourite.
The new series will see X Factor contestants turned presenting duo, Sam Nixon and Mark Rhode as the show’s new hosts, stepping into the shoes of a host of presenters who were household names for decades.
The programme was initially hosted by Eamonn Andrews followed by Leslie Crowther, Michael Aspel, Ed Stewart and, finally, Stu Francis who was renowned for his comedy catchphrases, including ‘I could crush a grape.’
But what ever happened to the show’s stars when games of double or drop came to an end?
Sam Nixon and Mark Rhode are set to host the reboot of children’s TV classic Crackerjack!
Andrews was the very first host of the game show when it aired in 1955. He began his career back in 1946 working as a sports commentator for Irish radio station Radio Éireann.
His first game show gig came in 1945 when he began hosting What’s My Line? where celebrity panelists would try and guess guests’ occupations.
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As well as his successful career as a presenter Andrews reached number 18 in the UK charts with a ‘spoken narrative’ recording named ‘The Shifting Whispering Sands’, in 1956.
He went on to host his own namesake chat show, all the while keeping up his career as a sports commentator, first on the BBC then ABC.
Aside from Crackerjack! Andrews was best known for presenting This Is Your Life.
Eamonn Andrews was the very first host of the game show when it began in 1955
Aside from Crackerjack! Andrews was best known for presenting This Is Your Life in which he would surprise a guest with his ‘big red book’ – seen here doing just that with actress Pauline Collins in 1987
In the show the host surprised a special guest, both celebrities and members of the public, before taking them through their life with the assistance of the ‘big red book’.
Andrews was the face of the show until his death in 1987 having passed away from heart failure at the age of 64.
Leslie was host for Crackerjack! from 1960 for eight years. He was often referred to as the ‘game show king’.
Following his stint on the kids’ show he moved on to become the first UK host of The Price is Right between 1984-88.
In fact it was Crowther who coined the famous catchphrase ‘Come on down’ which is now associated with the show.
Leslie was host for Crackerjack! from 1960 for eight years and was often referred to as the ‘game show king’
Crowther went on to become the first presenter of Stars in Their Eyes seen here with Jacky Webbe who performed as Diana Ross
He was also the very first presenter of The Price is Right (pictured with Mandie Harrison on the show) coining the catchphrase ‘Come on down’ that is now synonymous with the show
He moved on to become the first presenter of Stars in Their Eyes in 1990.
While his on-screen life was a big success, Leslie faced his own demons as, like his father he was an alcoholic.
He was arrested for drink driving in 1983 which went relatively under the raydar but in 1988 he arrived at a gala in Glastonbury drunk which received far more media attention. He went into rehab the following year.
In 1992 Leslie’s showbiz career was bought to an end when he sustained life-threatening injuries from a car crash. He died four years later from heart failure at the age of 63.
Aspel succeeded Eamonn Andrews on Crackerjack! as well as This Is Your Life.
His TV career began as a newsreader in Cardiff before becoming a lead anchor on the BBC national channel later becoming a presenter on the kids gameshow and Come Dancing.
He went on to host his own show Aspel & Company, inviting high profile guests such as Margaret Thatcher, and members of the Beatles who were interviewed on the Saturday night programme.
Aspel succeeded Eamonn Andrews on Crackerjack! and went on to have a successful career as a presenter
He also took Adams’ role as host of This is Your Life, seen here on its 50th anniversary in 2003
Other hosting gigs include the Antiques Roadshow which he presented for eight years until 2008. Pictured: Aspel on set of the show
Aspel also enjoyed a healthy career on the radio, presenting weekend slots Capital FM, LBC and later BBC Radio 2 in the 80s.
Other hosting gigs include the Antiques Roadshow which he presented for eight years until 2008.
In 2003 Aspel revealed that he has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a slow-growing or indolent cancer of the lymphatic system.
It was discovered by chance during tests for prostate problems, and he underwent a course of chemotherapy.
But against his specialist’s advice, he has decided not to have further treatment. He has kept a low profile career wise since his diagnosis.
DJ and presenter Stewart hosted his best known show Crackerjack! for six years from 1973.
Devon-born Stewart had a broadcasting career that’s lasted for more than five decades, including working as an announcer, film critic and rugby reporter according to the BBC.
DJ and presenter Stewart hosted his best known show Crackerjack! for six years from 1973. Pictured: Stewart with a friend in 2007 before his death in 2016
Stewart with models (from left) Dawn Luther, Sally White, Alison Norfolk, Diana O’neill, Carole Bell and Rachel Buchan in a shot taken during the height of his fame in 1975
Stewart was one of the first presenters on Radio 1 when it was launched in 1967.
The following year, he began presenting children’s show Junior Choice, which became his trademark radio show.
Stewart presented a Christmas edition of Junior Choice for BBC Radio 2 in 2015.
He died in 2016 at the age of 74 after suffering stroke.
The Bolton-born comedian presented Crackerjack! for five years from 1979 and was one of the most memorable presenters thanks to his catchphrases.
Francis’ most iconic was ‘I could crush a grape’ but variations included: ‘I could pop a balloon’, ‘I could rip a tissue’ and ‘I could pummel a peach’.
Stu Francis (pictured left with Leo Sayer and Jan Michelle on Crackerjack!) was responsible for the show’s most iconic catchphrase ‘I could crush a grape’
In fact his famous catchphrase lead to him hosting his very own programme Crush a Grape with a similar premise to Crackerjack!
He also released a single under the same name in 1983. His last television credit was in 2013 when he appeared in an episode of Sooty.
The comedy duo, comprising of Janette Tough and her husband Ian, were some of the most regular guests on Crackerjack!
The couple had their big break when they appeared in the Royal Variety Show in 1978 before they were snapped up by the BBC.
With Janette playing a schoolboy and her husband her father the Krankies appeared on the game show no less than 25 times in its 29 years on our screens.
The Krankies, comprising of Janette Tough and her husband Ian, were some of the most regular guests on Crackerjack!
Janette appeared in the 2015 Absolutely Fabulous movie as Huki Muki which lead to her being embroiled in a race row after she was accused of ‘yellowface’
Their starring roles on the show saw the pair launch their own television series including the Krankies Klub and The Krankies Elektronik Komik during the 80s.
They also tried their luck in the music charts, but they only managed to reach number 45 in the charts with the single Fan – Dabi – Dozi based on Jimmy Krankie’s famous catchphrase.
At one point they were rated among the most sought after entertainers on children’s TV, they were effectively dumped by British TV in the 1990s.
The husband and wife still make cameo appearances, and Janette took on an alternative role in the Absolutely Fabulous movie in 2015.
Her role as designer Huki Muki which saw both Janette and producers embroiled in a race row when Influential Korean American actress Margaret Cho accused the film of ‘yellowface’, which she describes as ‘when white people portray Asian people. And unfortunately it’s happening in this film.’
In 2011 the children’s entertainers admitted to being ‘secret swingers’ telling BBC Radio Scotland’s Stark Talk in 2011 that they were openly unfaithful with a succession of partners. Krankies’ tours, they claimed, were ‘wilder than rock tours’.
The pair are regulars on the panto circuit.
THE GREAT SOPRENDO
Another regular on the show was Geoffrey Durham, who went by the stage name The Great Soprendo.
Then the husband of Victoria Wood, Durham was famous for his catchphrase ‘piff, paff, poof!’ and appeared in ten episodes of CrackerJack!
The couple met 26 years ago when they were both struggling actors in Morecambe, Lancashire.
Another regular on the show was theVictoria Wood’s ex-husband Geoffrey Durham, who went by the stage name The Great Soprendo
Durham previously admitted, that like his ex-wife, he had previously battled to being a food addict who, without the help of Overeaters Anonymous, would have gorged himself to death
His magic career began after he met the late Victoria Wood, and after marrying her quit his job as an actor to embrace the character of the Spanish magician.
After 15 years performing as his alter-ego Durham finally began to perform his magic act as himself.
Although his career was often overshadowed by that of his wife, in 1993 he told the Mail: ‘I’m very happy being at home with the children. I certainly never have the feeling of being the man behind the woman.’
In 2002 Durham and Wood split in an ‘entirely amicable’ separation.
Durham previously admitted, that like his ex-wife, he had previously battled to being a food addict who, without the help of Overeaters Anonymous, would have gorged himself to death.
The performer has been involved in the Quaker outreach programme for many years and is set to release a book What Do Quakers Believe? in March.
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