Whilst I sit at my dining table writing this, I have one eye on ‘The One Show’ on TV. My other eye is on my laptop screen…… Being wall-eyed has it’s advantages at times. As the bright evening sun reflects off the screen, I can just about make out tonight’s guest, veteran TV presenter John Craven.
When I was a child he was the authoritative voice of children’s news on the current affairs programme ‘John Craven’s Newsround’…………….. As a young boy, I often thought it was an incredible coincidence he got a presenting role on a programme that bore exactly the same name as him.
His show was how we kids wanted our news stories delivered in the 1970’s/80’s. Slick, bitesize stories to engage our goldfish like attention spans. More importantly, though, we got to hear the cutting edge informative tales of squirrels skateboarding, or a duck that could quack the National Anthem.
John Craven (below) back in the day (a Thursday in this pic) and a skateboarding squirrel.
Believe it or not, his show was the intellectual part of our early evening entertainment. We made the most of it before the incomprehensible Clangers took over the kids entertainment baton.
The Clangers was a strange programme which I don’t remember with any real fondness, broadcast during the 10 minutes pre-BBC news slot.
As I recall they were a bunch of puppets living on the moon who communicated via a series of hoots. As you couldn’t make out what the were saying a narrator acted as interpreter.……. I haven’t got a chuffing clue how the narrator knew what they were saying …….. Perhaps he made it up as he went along.
If he’d been that way inclined, the narrator could have had a field day making up the stuff the Moon dwelling puppets were saying to each other. Prose to exacerbate the bafflement already being experienced by the young audience. Topical early 1970s conversations, such as:-
Clanger One – “I see Richard Nixon has been up to no good in that Watergate Affair.”
Clanger Two – “Yes!…….. I have to say things haven’t been the same since JFK was assassinated in 1963, if you ask me.”
Clanger One – “You’re telling me. That Lee Harvey Oswald has a lot to answer for.”
Clanger Two – “Are you winding me up?! .. There is no way he was the lone shooter, he was a patsy! … The Warren Commission conclusions are a heap of crap!”
Clanger One – “Do you suspect the assassination was a conspiracy by the CIA, FBI, Mafia, Cubans and a Mexican called Chico?”
Clanger Two – “How the f*** do I know! …… You flaming idiot! ….. Now pass me that Cinzano Bianco I’m gonna get hammered tonight.”
He’d have been sacked immediately of course, but a few watching adults may have chuckled, before they rushed for the off button.
A patsy (below) ……….. Not to be confused with a pasty.
Talking of John Craven ……Well I think we were. I obviously must have retained my goldfish like attention span of childhood…… One thing that strikes me is how different he sounds these day.
I know you’d expect a man’s voice to drop an octave or so when they reach old age. However, I’m referring more to the fact that John Craven tends to speak with a slight whistle when he talks these days.
I suspect the problem is just an ill fitting pair of false teeth. I don’t have a problem with it, but I’m glad he didn’t have them when he was a newsreader all those years ago. I’ve got to say, a wind surfing gerbil story can lose some credibility and authority if delivered by a man who sounds like a boiling kettle.…. Or even a woman, coming to think of it!
The actor Dennis Waterman who played a tough guy cop in ‘The Sweeney’ in the 1970’s is similarly affected as Mr Craven. His seemingly ill fitting dentures also cause him whistling issues when delivering dialogue.…. If he’d have had them when in the ‘Flying Squad’, I suspect the villains wouldn’t have been as intimidated by a guy whistling whilst reading their rights.
John Craven’s Newsround always concluded with a quirky news piece that began with JC informing his young audience “And finally………” This snippet was generally a light hearted tale designed at sending the kiddies away happy. A comfort blanket prior to the baffling darkly lit lunar world of the Clangers.
Unfortunately I’m unable to bring this piece to a conclusion with a whimsical tale and footage of a Mike next doors cat playing basketball…… It stopped when I got my video camera out. Instead, I’ll attempt to comfort you by paraphrasing the farewell words on BBC’s Crimewatch:-
“Don’t eat cheese before you go to sleep or think too much about the violence in tonight’s show, we don’t want you having nightmares…….. If you’re shopping in Harry’s general store tomorrow, be re-assured that he won’t use napalm again should another robbery occur…… And most importantly don’t worry excessively as Clangers don’t really exist.”