ALADDIN - THE CRACKERJACK! PANTOMIME
Original Broadcast Date: 24/12/1974
Troupe: Pans People
Dancers: Babs, Cherry, Dee Dee, Ruth & Sue
Link: Short Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeeBEe_KvW4 Extended Version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYuXlVY0uvU ____________________________________________________________________________________
It’s not Friday, nor is it five o’clock (or even five to five) and this is definitely not Crackerjack! However we are off to watch Aladdin – The Crackerjack! pantomime.
Oh no we’re not!
Oh yes we are!
Crackerjack! was one of the longest running kids TV shows spanning 29 years until it was eventually axed in 1984. Personally I never saw a single episode so I can’t comment much on it, but it must have been popular to last that long.
Pantomimes are quintessentially British but I have to say that I have never really understood the appeal of them. I don't get why men dress up as women and women as boys, but I suppose they do at least provide some employment for faded stars from yesteryear.
This particular show was broadcast on Christmas Eve 1974 and could be seen as an hors d'oeuvre for Pans People fans, with the main course arriving the following day on TOTP. It was produced by Robin Nash.
I have included two links for this performance. The long version is the full ten minutes or so in which Pans featured. The picture quality seems slightly better (perhaps Andee had tweaked it). The short version features just the cave dance which is the part which I am asking you to rate.
I had never seen this before until I selected it for review but I have to say that I am not a fan.
I suppose with it being set in a cave, you would expect it to be quite dark, but it is the overlays that really spoil this. I am struggling even to distinguish the dancers and the music doesn’t do anything to enhance the performance. Another problem is that they spend too long facing away from the camera which is a shame really as the costumes are quite appealing. Perhaps if they had of done a dance outside of the cave then things might have looked better. Still, at least the kids seemed to enjoy it.
Just 5 out of 10 from me I'm afraid. Perhaps you will be more impressed.
I think I only watched this once until today, and I can see why. The music is not very appealing, and the costumes disguise the dancers so well that I had a hard time identifying both Babs & Dee Dee. On the other hand, the dancing itself is quite nice with a short solo spot for each girl. Even though I'm not excited about this performance, any dance with a solo for Ruth is worth at least
6 / 10
The wind blew some luck in my direction, I caught it in my hands today
Did i watch this back in the day ? Probably, though if i had i would have forgotten the next day.
Have i watched this since its been on the net ? Yes, maybe once or twice.
Would i watch it again by choice ? Hmm, maybe if im bored next Christmas, but its doubtful.
Ive just watched the 10 minutes available, was i entertained ? I have to say yes. It was fun picking out the dancers and trying to identify the television stars of the day, for example Deryck Guyler was the policeman.
A better cave dance to come in 1977, but for this one im at `6.25 out of 10`
Looks like a pretty weird show so skipping to the "best part" is probably sensible. Despite some interesting far-out costumes almost adhering to the colour scheme, its quickly apparent the limitations of the fixed mid-distance camera set-up and low lighting are spoiling any real enjoyment. The few overlay close ups given are too blurry to be of much use. I don't mind the music although its generic movie-score esq jazz, its rather soothing and the solo dancing spots are good. Bearing in mind the limitations and intended audience I'll give it a 6.5, but its a real shame the individual dancers are not given decent close ups.
Aladdin seems to be receiving plenty of presents but unfortunately low-lighting and blurry overlays do not a jewel deliver despite the best endeavours of the ladies. It all seems a bit low key and can I say, almost staid, although I suppose one must bear in mind the target audience. So its only a measly unseasonal 4.5.
I have to agree with the general tone of the foregoing reviews here. This is not Pans best work of course but there were no doubt many constraints. In any case I do like the costumes well enough and the hair is outrageous but the clarity is poor and darned overlays are just distracting. I think 5/10 is fair and DotD would have been a challenge so I'll forgo that too
Some Dancers who gave a good time, broke all the rules, played all the fools, yeah yeah yeah they blew our minds
With the make-up and wigs I could barely tell who was who. In fact, Sue was the only dancer I could positively identify. It's typical pantomime stuff really, a distraction while they prepare the stage for the next scene. Annoying that the close-ups were over-layed by the distance shots. Why do they do that!!!
Not much is left of 70s Crackerjack in the archives, So I'm surprised this has survived. I rather like the music, sort of big brassy sound you immediately associate with shows and circuses of the time. Better quality footage might have upped the score, but on the evidence it's a 5/10
Not sure I should be voting on this one. never have liked this sort of stuff in any form. I have watched the short version twice and the long version once to try and inspire some interest, No. With no reflection on the girls dancing in any way and no offense to any one "1" DOTD ??
With the make-up and wigs I could barely tell who was who. In fact, Sue was the only dancer I could positively identify.
There you go, L - R:
Ruth, Sue, Babs, Dee Dee, Cherry
First solo: Cherry
Second solo: Ruth
Third solo: Dee Dee
Fourth solo: Sue
Fifth solo: Babs
I've just noticed the colour scheme is near identical to "You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me" shown the day after, its unusual because Ruth usually wore orange or yellow and Cherry purple, not perhaps not a coincidence then.
Flick obviously didn't adhere closely to the familiar colour scheme by that time. See You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet where Dee Dee appears in green and Sue in rose. But good spot, Mikey, I hadn't noticed that before.
The wind blew some luck in my direction, I caught it in my hands today
I watched Crackerjack a lot and may have tuned into this at the time and for the intended age of the audience I think it would have all worked admirably and been an engaging watch. Essentially a stage production on television, with much use of CSO to create certain magical effects which were effective enough in a simpler age.
I like the backing music supplied by Bert Hayes and his orchestra as it is reminiscent of the 70s easy listening style. Despite the moody lighting and highly coloured costumes with wigs, Pan's People are quite recognisable and it's nice to see an appearance outside of Top of The Pops or a variety show. There's obviously not a lot to it but I like the fact that each dancer has a little spot of their own during the performance. 6/10
Right, another seasonally appropriate selection from our host. It would be mad of me to dream of being treated to them dancing to Bowie's Aladdin Sane instead - I mean, that was released in 73! But I do actually quite like this music, it has a playful yet ominous jazziness like something Barry Gray might come up with for a feature film.
Otherwise it's mainly a case of piling on critically. Appealing costumes but it's blurry, the dancers get rendered into shadow, and though in the magical context there's good purpose in becoming lost in their mystery it's nevertheless hard to see the overlays as anything but an annoyance. It's a shame because our graceful subterraneans certainly maintain standards for their junior audience. In performance the solos are good and I like the sprinkling of dainty oriental diffidence.
With a better copy this would be quite beguiling and with value in its uniqueness it just about adds up to Crackerjack pens instead of pencils. Crackerjack!
Although providing a disadvantage for an OFTD audience, the subdued lighting does fit the bill for throwing shade onto a set which represents a cave interior. The satin effect exuded by those costumes provide the necessary sheen for PP to become a dancing version of a tin of Quality Street, in tune with the seasonal festivities and, as it's Christmas, the dancers' choreography is substantially relaxed - what it lacks in the challenge department is an asset to positioning and accuracy.
As has already been mentioned, Sue is the easiest Quality Street inhabitant to identify and as a unit it's pleasing to see Pan's People in a different environment.