Old Jack's Boat

New CBeebies series starring Bernard Cribbins has storytelling at its heart

Interview with Bernard Cribbins and Russell T Davies

Category: CBeebies

We managed to pin down both Bernard Cribbins AND Russell T Davis on the same set at the same time. Russell has penned two of Old Jack’s stories and was on set to watch Bernard – who marks 70 years in show business this year - reading one of them. What becomes instantly obviously is their mutual admiration for one another.

As a veteran of children’s television, Bernard certainly understands its draw. “It’s just one of those things where you can be as real as you like, as simple as you like and if the story is good (and certainly the stories that I’ve had to read on this show have been a smashing lot of stories) you just engage one child through the lens…”

As Bernard says, the heart of Old Jack’s Boat is its storytelling and Russell himself knows the importance of a good story when it comes to children.

He says: “I keep coming back to children’s television and I love writing it. Obviously you can do stuff in children’s that you can’t do anywhere else. But it’s the audience actually. In fact it’s the best audience because they’re so uncritical and they’re so critical at the same time. It’s a very, very, sharp audience. If something is dull or boring or wrong, they’ll just wander off. They’ve got better things to do. And I think if you can get the magic going, create a good children’s show, they will literally remember it for the rest of their lives!”

It’s the first time Russell has ever written anything for children this young – having been invited by Bernard to write for Old Jack’s Boat - and he admits it wasn’t easy at first.

“Many years ago I used to be a script editor on a programme that was for very young kids. It was a nice show - it was quite hard work because they sent me a list beforehand of how to write for under fives. There has to be no repetition, there must be no jeopardy. And I was like ‘well that’s my career gone’ I thought ‘that’s all I do is repeat myself, put people in danger… what am I left with?’ So I genuinely found it hard and then I loved it, having gone through it. I was really proud of it actually.”