Tuesday 13 September 2022

Cartoon Crackers

Do they still show Looney Tunes cartoons on ITV? It always felt, when I was a child, that all you had to do was wait 15 minutes and, soon enough, Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck would be popping up on the screen. Sometimes these animated shorts popped up when there was a gap in the schedules, sometimes they were packaged together with linked presentation such as, uh, Rolf's Cartoon Club. Another programme which presented these cartoons in a similar fashion, and one which has a less dubious background, was the short-lived Cartoon Crackers.

Fronted by the eternally wonderful Sue Robbie, Cartoon Crackers was a production from Granada Television which ran for four weeks during the summer holidays of 1984. Running Monday to Friday, episodes of Cartoon Crackers were broadcast at 9.30am, shortly after TV-am finished for the day, and lasted around 30 minutes. The programme was very much a magazine show, with the content mostly dedicated to an interview with a set of guests, a couple of Looney Tunes cartoons (loaded up via video by one of the guests), some pre-recorded gags from Gyles Brandreth and a quick look at one of the afternoon Children's ITV shows.

The format of Cartoon Crackers is relatively perfunctory in terms of presentation, but the intrigue comes, as ever, with the content on offer. The guest are typical of the era and it's no surprise to find members of Blancmange and Ultravox popping up for a quick spot of self-promotion. One episode which I managed to watch, however, was of great interest to myself as one of the guests was none other than the legendary Brian Cant. Cant was there - alongside a pre-Lofty Tom Watt and Ling Tai - to promote The Old Firm, an edition of Dramarama which was airing later on in the afternoon. 

Many of the programmes featured on Curious British Telly are resolutely ephemeral, and Cartoon Crackers ticks almost every box in this respect. The promotional nature of the guests does, of course, provide some cultural history of the era, although they're far from revealing, in-depth discourses on the guests' lives - but it is, after all, a children's programme designed to blast through half an hour of the schedules with little fuss. However, ephemera is one of the stock currencies of Curious British Telly, so Cartoon Crackers can be considered a suitably intriguing piece, especially as it features numerous clips of long forgotten Children's ITV programmes such as Starstrider.

There's little else to be said about Cartoon Crackers, apart from the fact that Sue Robbie wears some quite remarkable 1980s tops. It's a programme which no doubt left little impact on the viewers of the time, and this is evidenced by the lack of internet space devoted to it. Nonetheless, if you can track an episode down, you're guaranteed to be transported back to 1984 for a short time. And who wouldn't be cock-a-hoop about that?


  1. I have literal seconds of one of the episodes, enough to determine that guests included Bill Oddie and the late Billy Mackenzie. No idea of the original TX date for that specific edition, but I believe it was somewhere between 6-10 August 1984.

    1. If you've got any old recordings on VHS from that era then let me know, I'd love to get them up on YouTube!