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BBC to bring back cult TV show Crackerjack

The BBC is reviving cult classic children’s TV show, Crackerjack.

The show, a staple of children’s television from 1955-1984, marked the start of the weekend with its mix of sketches, pop performances and games.

Now, 35 years after its last outing, it is making a comeback. It will be made at MediaCityUK in Salford by BBC Children’s In-House Productions and will be on CBBC and BBC iPlayer.

The retro classic will be revitalised for today’s connected generation giving them an all-round, interactive experience while retaining the beating heart of what etched Crackerjack into the affections of British children for three decades.

There will be a heady mix of jaw dropping magic, laugh out loud comedy and silly studio sitcom – and of course it will still air on Fridays with hundreds of kids in the studio taking part in all the fun.

As part of the new show, Double or Drop returns in which kids get plucked from the audience to answer questions and go head to head to win prizes – or cabbages if they get it wrong – and the much-coveted Crackerjack pencil.

The show was originally presented by This Is Your Life’s Eamonn Andrews. He was followed by Leslie Crowther, Michael Aspel, Ed Stewart and Stu Francis.

This new 10×45’ series will be presented by Bafta-winning children’s TV favourites, Sam and Mark, and will air next year. The Genre Lead for Children’s In House Productions is Sid Cole and the format has been revamped by Head of Unscripted Development Ben Armstrong and the In House team.

Cheryl Taylor, Head of Content for BBC Children’s, says: “Crackerjack is just one of several fabulous series that Children’s In-House Productions have developed this year. It’s the perfect vehicle for our much-loved stars Sam and Mark and promises to usher in a new era of frenetic family fun and whizzbang audience antics.”

Helen Bullough, Head of Children’s In House Productions, says: “We can’t wait to introduce a new set of Crackerjack ‘crush-a-grape’ catchphrases to a new generation of fans! The format has always been an amazing showcase for talent. And that commitment to showcasing talent is always at the heart of our wider production ambitions too, and a common theme across all of these new commissions for In House, across all the age groups we serve and from writers to on screen performers.”

As well as Crackerjack, BBC Children’s In-House Productions has also announced a number of other new multiplatform commissions including a strong drama line-up, from mystery drama, Get Even, to thrilling, fast-paced series, The Demon Headmaster, all developed by the In-House Scripted Development team, led by Anna Davies.

Teen mystery drama, Get Even, follows four teenage girls, Kitty, Margot, Bree and Olivia at private elite school, Vandermere. On the surface the girls appear to have nothing in common except for one passion which unites them – to expose injustice. They form their own secret society, DGM – they Don’t Get Mad, they Get Even – playing anonymous pranks to expose bullies. But when their latest target ends up dead with a DGM card in his hands, the girls realise that they’re not as anonymous as they thought – and that someone now wants revenge on them.

Adapted by Holly Phillips from the book by Gretchen McNeill, Get Even is a 10×30’ series aimed at 12-15 year-olds. It is a co-production between BBC Children’s In-House Productions and Boat Rocker Studios and will air on BBC iPlayer. Executive Producer for Children’s In House Productions is Lucy Martin with Chapman Maddox and Bob Higgins Executive Producers for Boat Rocker.

The Demon Headmaster revives an iconic brand that thrilled children in the 1990s. Now the Demon Headmaster is back and he’s bang up to date as a Super Head of an Academy school. This 10×30′ drama follows a group of mis-matched kids who discover their headmaster is using hypnotism to gain ultimate control of their school. But how can they fight an antagonist who manipulates their every move? Adapted from Gillian Cross’s new Demon Headmaster book, Total Control by award-winning writer, Emma Reeves, the show will air on CBBC and BBC iPlayer.

Young audiences will also be able to enjoy Princess Mirror-Belle, a live action drama for 5-7 year-olds. The series follows Ellen and her mischievous mirror double, a magical princess from another land called Mirror-Belle, who often leaves a trail of chaos in her wake. Based on the best-selling Princess Mirror-Belle books by author, Julia Donaldson, this 13-part series will feature both new adventures and classic stories from the books.

Returning series commissioned by BBC Children’s In-house Productions for CBBC in 2019/20 include: Classed Dismissed 5; The Dog Ate My Homework 7; Can You Kick It 2; The Worst Witch 4; plus Hetty Feather 6 for 2020/21.

Children’s In House Productions has also teamed up with Boat Rocker Studios and UYoung to co-produce a new animated preschool series based on the Love Monster series of books by British author and illustrator, Rachel Bright, and published by Harper Collins Children’s Books.

Love Monster is a 54×7’ part series full of heart and big life learnings for little ones. Showcasing the importance of kindness, empathy, connection and instinct, the colourful and funny adventures follow hairy, googly-eyed hero, Love Monster, as he searches for the right thing to do in a world in which he is one of a kind.

With a lot of help from his friends – a host of vivid and engaging characters – and a little serendipity, Love Monster learns to follow his heart rather than his slightly ‘over-thinky’ head while building his inner confidence.

By watching his adventures, the series aims to help young audiences at home learn to cope with difficult emotions. Animation for the series will be produced by UK-based Karrot Animation and A Productions with a proportion of scripts, storyboards and design also provided by UYoung’s team. Executive Producer for In House is Tony Reed, Chapman Maddox for Boat Rocker and James Chen Gu for UYoung.

Returning series commissioned from BBC Children’s In-house Productions for CBeebies in 2019/20 include: Molly and Mack 2; CBeebies Stargazing Special 2; CBeebies Christmas Show 2019; CBeebies Prom 2019; Amazing Machines 2 and 3; YolanDa’s Band Jam 2.