The creator of Crackerjack was Johnny Downes. He also produced a number of other popular shows, including Call My Bluff, David Nixon's shows, Child's Play and The Basil Brush Show. An obituary can be found on The Stage website.
The word crackerjack apparently dates from the 1800s and means 'a superb or wonderful thing'.
Contrary to popular belief, Crackerjack wasn't always screened on a Friday, but was shunted around the schedules. It wasn't until the 70s that a regular Friday slot was established.
Points make prizes
During its heyday the Crackerjack pencil was as coveted as the Blue Peter badge. Kids were easily pleased in those days.
Sing Little Birdies
In 1958 comedy and song was provided by Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson, the husband and wife duo who famously came second in the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest with their ditty Sing Little Birdie.
Who goes there?
A number of big names made early appearances on Crackerjack to promote their pop career, including Adam Faith, Tom Jones, The Bee Gees, The Who and Status Quo.
Over the years a number of Crackerjack annuals were produced. The 1969 annual, for example contained a Don Maclean and Peter Glaze comic strip and a telesnap adventure, a look at the history of clowns, 'Crackerjack games for boys and tomboys', plus classic jokes, like, "What is the difference between an elephant and a letter box?" "Elephant and a letter box? - I don't know." "I won't send you to post a letter!"
One fan of comedy duo Don Maclean and Peter Glaze's brand of comedy is fellow comic Richard Herring.
On his website, Herring recalls meeting Maclean; "How I used to love his antics on Crackerjack, especially the way he got Peter Glaze to say stuff he didn't want to by throwing in suggestions as Glaze was talking. He was on a table near to mine so I went up to him later, told him I was a comedian and how much I had enjoyed his work as a child. He laughed and took responsibility for my career choice and I left before I had the chance to say anything stupid. I think it made him happy. I think it’'s what the eight year old me would have wanted!"
Peter Glaze was an accomplished actor, and can be seen (although, you'd be hard pushed to recognise him) in the early Doctor Who story The Sensorites, playing the evil City Administrator.
Double or Drop dropped
Double or Drop was devised by host Eamonn Andrews. When he left the show he took the format with him, and so the show's most popular fixture disappeared. In the 70s a deal was made and the game returned.
A staple of the show's later years was The Krankies, aka husband and wife duo Jeanette and Ian. Their most memorable turn featured Jeanette dressed up as schoolboy Wee Jimmie Krankie. The Krankies had been performing in Northern working men's clubs and entertaining the troops in Europe since the 60s. In 1978 they won Club Act of the Year and were spotted by Lord Delfont who signed them to appear on the 1979 Royal Variety Performance bill. Annoyingly, they're still going today.
Also in the show's later years, a theme tune by those cheeky cockney's Chas 'n' Dave was used. It featured the following lyrics:
Come on are you ready? Come on lets hear you shout
Its Crackerjack (Crackerjack!)
Join in with us on telly, that's what it's all about
Oh such a lovely word is Crackerjack!
Oh, Uncle Jack? No!
Come on are you ready? And let me get you out
Oh such a lovely word is Crackerjack!
Piff, Paff, Poof
As well as the Krankies, a regular guest on the show during the Stu Francis era was The Great Soprendo, a magician famous for his catchphrase 'Piff, Paff, Poof'. The Great Soprendo was Geoffrey Durham, the then husband of Victoria Wood. Durham still performs magic today, going under his real name. He gets his biggest cheer when he uses his old catchphrase.
Prior to Crackerjack Stu had appeared with Gemma Craven in the short-lived ITV sitcom Hey Brian! (1972). After Crackerjack Stu took his talents to ITV for the gunge gameshow Crush a Grape. He's also listed as one of Bolton Wanderers most-famous fans.