Bernard Cribbins, Old Jack's BoatBernard Cribbins, best remembered for his work on a number of classic children’s series’ including The Wombles, has suggested that current programming for younger viewers is too ‘fast’ paced and ‘noisy’.

“It’s all very fast and noisy now I think.” He told the BBC, adding, “You think of the gentleness of Jackanory, somebody would walk onto the set, sit down and say ‘hello I’m going to tell you about Ratty and Mole and the Wind in the Willows’ and off you went.

“Nice and gentle, and the only thing you saw, apart from the guy or lady talking to you, was a few captions and illustrations, which were stills. That was how it used to be. Pure, simple storytelling.”

Cribbins who regularly appeared on Jackanory, which starred many famous faces over the years reading children’s tales, says that the current output is more interested in gimmick rather than content.

“Now there seems to be – sometimes, not always – a tendency to use every single opportunity to put in CGI and animation and a lot of it is, I think, gratuitous when the story is actually doing the work for you.”

Television in general has upped its pace to keep up with falling attention spans and itching fingers swift to change channels at the hint of something ‘boring’.

The 84-year-old is due to appear back on Children’s television with a show on CBeebies, the toddler and primary school age channel from the BBC.

Old Jack’s Boat, co-written by former Doctor Who top boss Russell T Davies, follows a retired fisherman who lives in a little village on the North Yorkshire Coast.  Helped along by a cast of colourful characters, ‘Old Jack’ tells tall stories from inside his old fishing boat. The series is a mix of live action and animation which allows Old Jack to wander along the seabed, visit tropical islands and fly high in the air on balloons always accompanied by his faithful dog, Salty.

“I think we’ve got a very nice balance with Old Jack’s Boat” Cribbins says of the mix between animation and storyline.

Cribbins holds the record for the most appearances on Jackanory which ran from 1965 until 1996 with a short revival in 2006. He’s appeared in 111 editions out of the 4000 or so produced. Other faces to tell tall stories on the show range from Comedian and Carry On actor Kenneth Williams, Crossroads actress Ann George, Astronomer and The Sky at Night presenter Patrick Moore to Prince Charles and a host of Doctor Who timelord actors.

Old Jack’s Boat starts next week on CBeebies

[Reported by Neil Lang]

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