Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


A recent e-mail conversation with a new cyber friend and last weekends Jackanory night, has got me thinking about the art of storytelling.

My friend mentioned that she likes to unwind after a long day, by listening to a audio book. It's something that I have got out of the habit of unfortunately. I used to love to chill out with a really good adaptation of a book, provided it was unabridged. The thought of someone editing a story to suit their version of it, fills me with horror. Lily has been listening to one of the Harry Potter series, so expertly read by the national institution that is Stephen Fry. I'm not advocating listening to the audio book instead of reading here, by the way. It's just that sometimes it's just so relaxing to be read to. Maybe I'm regressing into childhood here and remembering being read to when I was very young, whatever it is, I just love it.

Any book that is read out loud is only as good as it's reader. It can be the greatest book it the English language, but if it is read without passion then it isn't worth the time it takes to listen.

I had a tape when I was a kid of Bernard Cribbens reading stories from 'A House At Pooh Corner' and it has stayed with me since then. Whenever I read it now, I hear Cribbens' voices he gave to Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and co. I especially have fond memories for his interpretation of Roo. I have a cd version read by Alan Bennett now, and although very good, it iusn't quite the same.

When I was a child, one of my favourite programmes was undoubtedly Jackanory. In todays day and age of PS2's and X Boxes it seems impossible to think that millions of children sat down and watched someone telling them a story EVERYDAY!!! There were so many great stories told and so many brilliant story tellers. The aforementioned Bernard Cribbens was the most regular reader, closely followed by Kenneth Williams, but such greats as Judy Dench, Willie Rushton, Beryl Reid and Rik Mayall also took part. By God even Prince Charles read a story. That's how important it was.

It hasn't been on our screens for some 10 years, so a whole generation of children have missed out on sitting still and being read a wonderful story. Maybe some of these children may have been inspired to pick up a book and read it, instead of blasting things on a pc game, had it still been on. Apparently Jackanory is soon to make a comeback, which is great news. The next generation of children, my young nieces included, can hopefully get as much pleasure as I did from the art of storytelling.


Blogger pete said...

Kenneth Williams as a storyteller on Jackanory was brilliant. I will never forget his wonderful way in telling the tales. Bernard Cribbins is my second choice of favourites.

7:04 pm

Blogger The Goldfish said...

Jackanory was one of my favourite programmes as a child. I had some audiobooks (Wind and The Willows is the only one I remember) read by Kenneth Williams and he was indeed fantastic.

The only trouble with audiobooks is that they are so expensive, especially if you get them unabridged. This is an access issue of course; when I was studying A-Level English Lit. I tried to get one of my set texts in unabridged audio format, Mansfield Park by Jane Austen - as in Jane Austen, anyone heard of her?

But it was going to cost me fifty quid. Fifty quid for a story which costs £1.50 in paperback. And hardly an obscure book.

Suggest we all support the Books Before We Die campaign to get as many texts as possible into accessible format.

10:18 am

Blogger marmiteboy said...

Excellent idea Goldfish.

I too had The Wind In The Willows as told by Kenneth Williams too. Still have. I've got some tremendous Just Williams stories told by him too.

12:52 pm


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