Generations have grown up with John Craven, whose career has spanned 40 years. This is a celebration of John's key moments, from Newsround to Countryfile.
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John Craven has been appearing on our television screens
for the best part of half a century.
He has been with us as we moved from black and white to colour.
He's reported on conflicts abroad...
The war in the Lebanon has broken out again with a vengeance.
..and at home.
What's it like when you try and play outside?
There's usually shooting down the street.
He's seen us through eight prime ministers...
-Morning, Mrs Thatcher.
-..and five recessions.
And throughout it all, John has been a reassuring presence...
-..making sense of the world,
from Newsround to Countryfile.
It's a well-known phrase that you should never work with children and animals,
and I've spent the last 40 years doing just that!
This is the story of the man who brought the news to children...
His role in those early Newsrounds was that of elder brother.
You did feel it was especially for you.
..and brightened up our Saturday mornings.
We all genuinely liked each other and we very much loved John.
'He is one of the most decent entertaining, kind,'
compassionate people that you could ever want to meet.
Generations of us have grown up with John Craven
and John has grown up with us.
This is a journey through...
MUSIC: "Act Naturally" by Buck Owens
It's a cold morning in November
and John Craven is on location in Southport with the Countryfile team.
Two miles beneath the surface, here, there's natural gas trapped in rocks
and getting it out involves a new technique in this country
'I'm proud of being a journalist. I think its a wonderful job.'
It's a great window on the world. You get this opportunity to, kind of,
walk down a street and then some doors you throw a bouquet
and then other doors you throw a ton of bricks!
'But all the time you are, hopefully,
'responsibly, reporting to your audience
'about what is really happening.'
..I'll be investigating. And also on Countryfile tonight...
Journalism and broadcasting have been in John's blood
ever since he was old enough to read and write.
When I was 11 or 12,
I asked my parents, as a birthday present, for a microphone!
And it was like one of those, you know, sports commentators hold
and...it was plugged it into the radio in the sitting room
and I sat in the kitchen with the Yorkshire Evening Post
and read them the stories from the front page of the paper,
just like a radio newsreader
and they were very tolerant - they just sat and listened.
The budding broadcaster was born in Leeds in 1940.
He grew up in a country ravaged by the effects of the Second World War
and like many children, the harsh reality of conflict was brought home to him in a very personal way.
My father was captured by the Japanese in 1942, in Singapore,
and he was one of the few who did survive The Death Railway.
My mother didn't know if he was dead or alive for nearly three years.
One of my first memories was going to Leeds station
and meeting this stranger who weighed about five stone
because, you know, the treatment he'd had at the hands of the Japanese
and he carried me on his shoulders, I thought he was a great hero
returning home from killing tigers and things like that!
'Well, Mr Nomad, you can't say I didn't pick a grand day for your trip to Bird Island...'
For young boys with vivid imaginations,
post-war childhood regained a sense of adventure and excitement through the radio.
'For me it was Children's Hour, five o'clock every night,'
with Uncle Mac and people like that,
and Norman and Henry Bones, the boy detectives, and Wandering with Nomad.
'I love the little puffin.
'I think he has the most comical face of any bird I know.'
This was a naturalist nomad who took a group of children out
and on the radio explained what they were seeing,
you know, as they walked down country lanes
and I think that's first what got me interested in wildlife and nature
cos I was, then, a city kid.
MUSIC: "Johnny B Good" by Chuck Berry
Radio might have nurtured a lifelong interest in the countryside,
but it also provided the spark for a pop culture explosion
that would transform the lives of children coming of age
in the decade of Pop Art, rebels and rock and roll.
Suddenly this raucous American wave swept over us
and we were very impressed.
We were the first teenagers - the word had never been heard of before -
and everything was happening, in fashion, in music especially,
you know, Elvis Presley, wow.
I had Elvis Presley records and my parents HATED the fact.
They almost banned the records from the house.
And I had a DA haircut, a Tony Curtis haircut, you know,
and I wore an Italian suit,
you know, four buttons down the front and all that.
Brimming with teenage confidence,
John Craven made his first ever television appearance in 1958
as a guest on a long-lost youth programme called The Sunday Break.
This is the cutting about my very first television interview, on The Sunday Break.
"John Craven, of Grimthorpe Street, Headingley, Leeds,
"is a braw laddie, as the Scots say.
"Last Sunday this 18-year-old sales apprentice
"suddenly found himself in front of the television cameras.
"I say 'suddenly' because he only had four days warning that he was to appear.
"But John didn't panic - he didn't even bat an eyelid." Not sure about that.
The Sunday Break offered teenagers a short-lived taste of TV stardom,
but one of the shows more famous guests spotted John's potential.
On the very first program I talked to Sam Wanamaker,
you know, founded the Globe Theatre, father of Zoe Wanamaker,
and, in fact, Sam was very kind to me, you know, he took me to one side and he gave me a few tips.
Obviously, my first time on television I was very nervous
and he said, "You might be able to do this job."
During a tumultuous decade that spanned free love, moon landings
and revolting students,
John honed his journalistic skills on local papers
like The Harrogate Advertiser.
It wasn't until the late 60s that he broke into regional television,
where runaway dogs were headline news.
He went straight into the acres of wood and grass which surround the airport,
and he's resisted all attempts to capture him.
He's eating food that's been put down for him,
but he took no notice of some greyhound bitches
brought up here to try lure him back with love.
In 1971, John gained national exposure
on the BBC's flagship current affairs series Nationwide,
where the closure of local bus services was headline news.
We've had a lot of letters from the village,
letters which say things like,
"We love our little village, but we don't want to be buried alive in it."
So we decided to use this as the starting point of our enquiry...
and feelings are running so high that when they discovered we were coming,
this is the reception committee that greeted us.
'This is the nine o'clock news.'
Although John quickly mastered the formal broadcasting style of the time,
the news was a turn-off for a large and increasingly powerful section of the viewing public -
Children were absolutely bored stiff by the adult news,
because of the way it was presented...
A leading Conservative Shadow Minister, Sir Keith Joseph,
tonight came out firmly against any statutory incomes policy...
It was quite inaccessible and often,
because you didn't understand the context, when it came on,
we'd just go out of the room
cos we felt like it had nothing to do with us.
Yet the world was a volatile place in the early '70s, with violence on the streets of Northern Ireland,
war in Vietnam and Britain on the verge of industrial unrest.
# Come in from school
# My head buzzin' with rules
# That would bring any boy to his knees... #
The idea that television should guide children through this world
began to gain ground with BBC bosses such as Monica Sims.
# ..to my room and I slam the door... #
I belonged to the school of thought which felt it was a good thing for children to be stretched,
and to use their imaginations, and to understand, gradually, the world around them.
Five, four, three.
Producers in Bristol were the first to tap into the new mood
with a programme called Search...
..and they recruited John Craven to present it.
Hello and welcome once again to Search.
Well, how many boys do you know who can bake a cake
and how many girls do you know who can mend a fuse?
'Search was the first current affairs programme in the world for children'
and what did, we looked at a topic every week,
made a film about it, a short film,
and then I had a studio full of children - maybe 30 or 40 children sometimes -
who all wanted their say on that issue.
I've got a younger brother than myself
and I usually get the household chores to do
and he's sitting down watching television or something like that, and I don't think that's fair.
I think boys should stick to what they're made for,
you know, being, playing with toy soldiers and things like that.
'It was probably the first time that anybody had really'
taken children's opinions seriously.
And we looked at issues, you know, some big news issues,
we looked at relationships,
you know, "How'd you get on with your grandparents?
"What do you think of the older generation?" That sort of thing.
In a way, quite a breakthrough.
Search offered children a voice,
but whether they had anything pressing to say was another matter.
'I can't tell you how pleased I'd be if I could be on television
'and I know my parents would be pleased
'and so would my budgie, who enjoys TV,
'and my pet fish, who also enjoys TV, certainly would.'
Sorry, Louise, that your budgie and your pet fish
and indeed you are going to be disappointed
because you didn't give us any real opinions in that letter, did you?
In Search, we were encouraging children to respond
and give their own opinions.
Well, I disagree with making children to sports.
I'm not one of those people who likes sport
so I rather agree with Jane.
-You should have shown a wider range of schools.
-Siobhan, what you think?
'I have a distant memory of Search'
and, I think, probably like every child viewer,
particularly those with my temperament and ambitions,
fantasised about giving my opinions on the issues of the day on that programme.
Search also encouraged children to express themselves
though the medium of film.
Hello again. Well, today is the big day
when we find out the winners of the Search film competition for 1971.
One of our innovations on Search was to have a film competition.
This was long before videotape.
Children sent in their films, they had to edit themselves,
and we picked the best ones.
# Hey kids You did it all yourselves
# You'll never change the world So what you think about that... #
And I was at a reception, a few years ago now,
and Trisha Goddard and Nick Park were there and we were chatting and Trisha said,
"Oh, you probably don't remember this, John, but I entered the Search film competition
"and I came second one year and I got to make a film with the BBC crew
"and it really got me interested on being on television."
And Nick Park, you know, from Wallace and Gromit fame, Nick said,
"Well, do you know," he said,
"I entered my very first plasticine modelled film animation
"to the Search film competition and I got nowhere.
"They didn't even write back!"
So, what a mistake we made there!
Congratulations, mainly, of course, to Malcolm Dalton for winning the competition.
He wins this - an 8mm, battery-operated, zoom lens camera.
John's performances on Search had caught the eye
of the BBC's Children's department in London,
where the idea of a dedicated news bulletin for children
had begun to gain ground.
'I know we saw several other people,
'but John Craven seemed to have a rapport with children
'that did not involve talking down to them.'
Most children resented being treated like a child -
we wanted somebody who could talk straight and John could.
John had the qualities the producers were after,
but they'd need access to the full resources of the mighty newsroom
if their idea was to work.
Edward Barnes, deputy head of the Children's department,
had to persuade the head of news to collaborate.
'He poured out two ENORMOUS gins,'
topped up with a little warm, flat tonic and no ice and said, "Speak."
So I told him what I wanted to do.
Right, stand by, studio.
And he gave me use of a news studio, use of all newsgathering facilities
and the use of correspondents
and everything you need to set up a news programme.
With a studio, reporters and a presenter in place,
all the show needed now was a title.
I thought up the word Newsround
because I wanted the audience at home to connect with it.
I thought, well, a lot of children had paper rounds
and this is an amalgam of "paper round" and "television news",
so we had Newsround.
And then Edward said, "Yeah, but if its a paper round,
"it's Joe Bloggs's paper round or Jill Brown's paper round,
"so this is John Craven's Newsround." That's how it got its title.
'First on BBC1, John Craven's Newsround.'
John Craven's Newsround took to the air on 4th April 1972.
It was soon providing children with reports on everything,
from endangered birds of prey to Ugandan refugees.
Several thousand Asian children from Uganda
are now settling down to life in this country -
and the big problem is getting them back to school.
'What we wanted to do was to explain to children
'what's happening in the world in a way they're going to understand.'
Everything had to be totally understandable by a nine-year-old,
which is quite a journalistic challenge.
-I remember the first-ever Newsround story,
which was a great John Craven word.
It was "ospreys".
-Today we're looking at some nesting OSPREYS
and how people are helping the OSPREYS.
The programme broke with many of the conventions of news broadcasting.
'I didn't sit behind a desk. I didn't want to appear to be a teacher.'
'Children had just got home from school -'
they were entitled to flop in front of the telly and enjoy what was on,
so I didn't want them to feel they were back in a classroom again.
John's dress sense also added to his casual appeal.
Some of those shirts, in the '70s,
you know, the voile shirts with the great big collars
and the kipper ties.
Hello again. Hello. Hello again.
Hello again. Hello again. Hello again. Hello again. Bye for now.
That's what everyone else was wearing at the time.
I think informal was right for the kids.
It was saying, "This is a different kind of programme.
"Look up and listen up, you might find something interesting."
Will there won't there be a general election next month?
General elections are always held on a Thursday
and many schools are closed because they are used as polling stations.
I remember watching Newsround, while fighting with my brothers,
walloping each other with cushions.
I always felt very safe with John. You trusted him
and, above all else, you understood what the programme was saying.
John just governed that brilliantly
with that great sense of authority, but with warmth.
Kashmir is now one of the world's major exporters of walnuts.
2 million pounds in a year.
John and the editorial team chose a mix of stories
designed to capture the imagination of younger viewers.
'We would try and entice the audience in to watching us.'
Hello again. On Newsround tonight, from Britain, the children who were being turned away from school.
From the Middle East, a million pilgrims flock to their holy city.
And from Australia, surfers who may not be all they seem to be.
The most important news of the day around the world
would be in Newsround,
but it wouldn't necessarily be the lead story
as it was in the grown-up news.
Police in New York have just made the biggest swoop on organised crime in their history.
Striking the right balance between stories was crucial
if Newsround was to have a long-term future.
'Not only might we be in serious trouble
'for parading the horrors of the world
'to innocent eyes and innocent ears,'
the ears and eyes and innocent ears
were in grave danger of switching off or switching over.
To find out what children really thought of the new programme,
John hosted a special edition of Search
that would vindicate all their hopes.
When you're watching children's programmes,
do you want to be entertained or, like Newsround, be informed?
-You learn more that way.
And if you were in charge of children's programmes
what kind of changes would you make, if any?
Mostly children, instead of adults.
You'd want more children involved in programmes?
-The adults are taking over the world.
-So would you prefer Paul sitting in this seat?
Divers rescue from the sea a piece of lost history.
'I heard about this guy who was working in his garden
'and his child came rushing out to tell him about this sunken ship'
that had been discovered. And he said, "Where did you hear that?"
And the child said, "On the news," and his dad said, "Don't be silly,
"the news isn't on until six o'clock. He said, "No, I heard it on MY news!"
A massive operation is going on to salvage a rare shipwreck.
And I thought, "That's it, clicked with the audience."
-You did feel it was especially for you.
It did, sort of, crystallise the news
in a way that you can understand when you're eight, nine or ten years old.
MUSIC: "I Only Want To Be With You" by The Bay City Rollers
With an audience of over four million regularly tuning in,
Newsround's future was secure.
The main challenge for the programme makers
lay in taking difficult editorial decisions during unsettling times.
'We wanted to make a programme which would widen children's horizons,
'but we also wanted to help them understand'
the tragedies and disasters happening around the world,
rather than just be horrific or frightening.
More than 200 American Red Indians have captured a trading post
in the state of South Dakota. They're holding people to ransom
and shooting at police who try to get near.
We were dead straight. We told it as it was, in a way that was acceptable.
I mean, you never saw blood on Newsround.
It all sounds like the old Wild West come to life again,
but, in fact, the Indians are members of a group called AIM,
which stands for the American Indian Movement
and they want a better deal all-round for modern Red Indians.
We didn't do murder stories,
unless there was some sort of a kind of positive end to it,
like, the Yorkshire Ripper was headlines all over the world,
but we never mentioned it on Newsround
until he was actually caught, and then that was a reassurance thing.
The 11 hostages on the hijacked jumbo jet are now safely on their way home.
MUSIC: "Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2
In a decade scarred by international terrorism,
Newsround had to explain the politics of violence
right on its doorstep.
Hello. New ways of cracking down on teenage violence in Northern Ireland
have been put forward by a special government commission.
We had a large number of children watching us in Northern Ireland
as we reported some of the horrors that went on there during The Troubles.
So, we were very much aware of that.
What's it like when you try and play outside?
There's usually shooting down the streets.
-I do strongly remember having a sense that there were children of my age and younger
who were living in Northern Ireland,
through what was, in effect, a war zone
and there's always a tendency in children's broadcasting
to talk down and to sanitise
and leave out the bits we think children won't get
and they didn't do that in Newsround.
Explaining the world's most complex and bloody conflicts to grown-ups
was difficult enough for the newsroom's hardened correspondents.
..three men, either in the hotel or very close to it,
and so the strategic fire, strategic position...
"Explaining them to children," Edward Barnes warned,
"would be even trickier."
When I talked to them I said,
"Remember you are talking to highly intelligent people,
"but they have got no background information at all.
"This is all new to them, so don't ASSUME knowledge."
These children live at the Sacred Heart orphanage in Danang,
once a principal American army base.
Of the 300 here, 50 orphans whose parents have died in the war...
The way in which children were caught up in war
had a particular resonance for correspondents
and the Newsround audience back home.
-War is about people. One of the features of modern warfare
is that children are so much caught up in it
cos they are unable to get out of the way.
And if I was doing something about the Vietnam War,
and any other wars for Newsround,
I would often try to relate them to the children
in the countries I was in.
In Vietnam, orphans in the past were frequently taken into rich houses
to become servants.
To stop that, complex laws have been introduced.
In one sense, they safeguard the children.
They also make adopting them an almost interminable legal operation.
Of the 300 children at Sacred Heart,
only 17 will be with their new families by Christmas.
'Writing for Newsround taught me to simplify,
'which was a very good lesson. To try to avoid jargon,
often to let this sound run a little bit or the music
or whatever it might be...
I think that writing for Newsround made me a better journalist, actually.
It always used to give me a huge kick, when they'd send in their pieces and they'd say...
This is Michael Bourke for John Craven's Newsround in Yorktown, Virginia.
This is John Humphrys for Newsround in Salisbury, Rhodesia.
This is Martin Bell reporting for John Craven's Newsround.
Wow, yeah! HE LAUGHS
What're we missing?
No page five.
Come on, Lucy. You're late.
Newsround's stories might have resonated with its young audience,
but not everyone was pleased with the glimpse of the real world that the show offered.
Some people criticised us. I had one letter from a lady saying I was
"destroying the garden of childhood," and I dispute that.
I like to think that what we were doing on Newsround
was in that garden of childhood
and putting a ladder up against the wall
and letting children climb that ladder,
see what was happening in the grown-up world over the top of the wall
and I was there as an adult friend, if you like,
to explain to them what they were seeing...
in a way that they would understand.
And that's always been my philosophy.
Victims of war...
Gang of thieves...
John's convictions were borne out by Newsround's growing stature
as a lynchpin of the weekly schedule.
But in the summer of '76, as Britain baked and punk rock brewed,
he was about to embark on an adventure that would introduce him to a wider audience
and reveal a very different side of his personality.
'Well, I'd been doing Newsround for about four years, I think,'
when children's television decided to do a Saturday morning show,
a non-stop light entertainment show for three hours.
First time it had ever been attempted,
I think it was the longest programme the BBC ever transmitted, apart from sports.
'It's now 9.30, time on BBC1 for the Multi-coloured Swap Shop.
Taking to the air in October 1976,
Multi-coloured Swap Shop offered viewers the chance to swap unwanted toys and games on air.
You want to get rid of a Stylophone and you want to swap it for what?
'A leather football.'
At the helm was former radio DJ Noel Edmonds.
..9.30, Saturday morning. Welcome.
I hope we find you fit and well and you'll stay with us as long as possible.
-How are you?
-Good. Have you had a good week?
Marvellous week, no problems...
He was ably assisted by two bubbly newcomers -
Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin.
Incredible! Now, tell me what on earth made you decide to make shoes
like this and that dragon shoe? It's quite fierce, actually!
'I was a raw student from Manchester. I'd never done anything like this ever.
'I didn't really know what I was doing.'
And I'd asked. I'd said, "Should we have a run through?"
"Oh, no, no, we don't have run throughs. Don't worry about it."
'It was a very casual, but a deliberately casual approach.'
As always on the Swap Shop, we've got a new swap and good morning to John Craven.
In order to add a measure of experience,
the producers turned to John Craven.
'They asked me if I would take part because I think they wanted a bit of grit.'
They felt it was necessary to have a bit of seriousness, so that was my role.
A team of experts from the British Museum is to fly to Egypt
to try and save the Sphinx from crumbling.
We've got a really packed programme today, a programme...
Between them, the Swap Shop foursome would have to deliver
a marathon of entertainment to the newly awake.
This was a programme that went on for hours!
This was, like, three hours! How can you do a programme for an entire Saturday morning?
And then you started to watch it and "Oh, right, this is how it works.
"There's a few cartoons here and then there's a phone-in bit there."
'Hi, Delia, I want to know
'at what age did you take an interest in cooking?'
Well, I'm 38 now and I started cooking at 22.
-'We were dealing with very serious matters at times...'
1981 is now the International year of the disabled.
..the frivolous, humorous, anarchic...
We don't have any hard-working cameramen!
All we've got is this mob here.
How long has he taken so far?
John might have been recruited to add some gravitas to proceedings,
but he was soon caught up in the freewheeling energy of the show.
The borders gradually eroded between being serious all the time and having fun.
He looks like something out of Blake's 7, doesn't he?!
'If you know John, there are two Johns.
'And he is brilliant as a broadcaster of serious matters.'
-I can't talk, I'm a dummy.
He also has a devilish sense of humour.
# Hands, knees and a bump!
# Oops a daisy
# It's lovely to dance with a prince. #
'We used to do pantomime every year. I remember once,
'Noel and I got dressed up as the Ugly Sisters
'and we had Ricicles stuck to our cheeks as warts.'
That is my face cream, sister dear. Perhaps you'd like to try some.
A girl must always look her best to catch a fella handsome.
I had a few letters from viewers saying, was my hair real?
'Could you please tell me if it's true that John Craven
'wears a hair piece as I've heard...
'As I've heard many rumours about it.'
I had this jet black hair at the time
and some people thought I looked like Mr Spock...so we did Swap Trek.
John was a great performer. He really enjoyed performing
and I think his performances reached their height in the role of Spock.
Ah, Mr Speck, what kept you?
What seems to be the problem, Captain? Why this display of emotion?
The problem is we are heading out of control towards
an unknown planet and unless checked,
the total destruction of our team is inevitable
and Grandstand will just have to start earlier.
They stuck some great big ears on me. There was a passing likeness.
-I think those ears have gone to his head.
-What about you?
He's just trying to browbeat us.
It was great fun to do those things because, you know, for me,
it was out of the ordinary.
I didn't normally get dressed up to go on the telly!
Saturday mornings bought an extra dimension to John Craven
because you were able to see the real John Craven
as well as John Craven, the newsreader.
I'm getting messages to say that we haven't got the film at the moment.
I've been told to tell you that we haven't got the film.
-Oh, thank you.
-Sorry about that.
-That's all right.
I loved working with Noel - you never knew what to expect.
We've got a reputation for springing things on people
and for running a studio where anything can happen.
He took all sorts of chances. He was great fun to work with.
I learnt a lot about live television,
and the informal side of live television, from Mr Edmonds.
For some, the show's spontaneity was too much.
Certain parts of the BBC were not very pleased about this.
The idea of going off into unlit areas was an anathema,
and I remember getting a memo
from somebody saying, "The BBC has a reputation throughout the world
"of providing the finest pictures and you're just chucking it out
"without a single thought."
And that's really what made the programme!
On a programme where technical hitches were an occupational hazard,
even veteran newsman John had to be ready to improvise with anything that came to hand.
And...at the moment, a gentleman upstairs is winding
the machine through so we can see Brown Sauce.
'The videotape broke down so we had to fill for about five minutes...'
I am sorry.
..and I picked up this lamb, popped under the desk and brought it up.
..have a chance, I will give all the details again...in a moment.
Lamb then became quite a big fixture.
Lamb, of course, is here. You can come out now.
Since the stardust fell on him, Lamb has taken his fame very seriously.
Every Saturday, he plays back the programme on his video machine
to check his performance.
Sometimes it was quite hard to separate John from Lamb.
And you'd be saying "Right, John, you've got the news to do."
And he would still be operating Lamb.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to reveal the lamb's mentor,
in the sense that you haven't done it all on your own, have you?
In fact, a very famous impresario
has had a hand in... the lamb's success.
And I don't know which camera will get it best of all...
Have a little look at what goes on down here! Come on out, John.
This is a favourite picture of mine.
It's the four of us on Swap Shop.
Keith and Maggie, and Noel and myself all having a big smile
and actually, it's not fake.
We were great friends and were having a wonderful time doing that show
and I think it shows in that picture.
Swap Shop came to a close in 1982
and, in a fitting symbol of the show's reputation
for unscripted chaos, one of the guests made short work
of the only bit that was written down.
-Was that anything important? Was that the news?
-Is that it?
MUSIC: "House Of Fun" by Madness
Swap Shop had made Saturday morning television essential viewing
and the BBC was quick to devise a replacement.
In a year that saw war in the Falklands,
the launch of Channel Four and the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole,
John Craven returned to action on the Saturday Superstore,
accompanied by DJ Mike Read
and a host of the biggest names of the day.
Hello, I'm Mike Read, it's 9.30 on Saturday morning
and time for me to open the Saturday Superstore.
# Saturday morning Get down to the superstore. #
What a thrill to get up on Saturday morning and go "Who's coming up?
"Elton's coming in." "Is he? Oh, great!"
"And a choir, and the England cricket captain, Mike Gatting."
Great! So it was terrific fun.
You'd have poets, painters, astronauts, politicians.
And, of course, like Swap Shop before us,
we were accessible to kids, you know, "Call in,
"we'll put you on air. Oh, that's great!"
'Do you get on well with your children?'
Yeah, I do actually, I'm very lucky.
The live phone-in was a risky prospect for Superstore's guests
in an era when children could be candid in their views.
That was the quickest answer we've had!
It was decided to have the political leaders on the show
and they all agreed. First, we had David Steele from the Liberals,
Hello, you're through to David Steele.
'Do you get fed up with the Spitting Image puppets poking fun at you?'
Yes, but you've got to to laugh at yourself in politics.
The next week, we had Neil Kinnock from Labour
and on the third week, along came the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
We do have the Prime Minister with us this morning.
Mrs Thatcher making her first visit to Saturday Superstore.
You can ring her and talk to her. The phones are open now.
You cant imagine many other shows having that appeal.
We welcome our special guest this morning, one of the world's most powerful women,
the Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher.
-Good morning, Mrs Thatcher.
-Thank you for joining us.
Margaret Thatcher's appearance led to one of the most awkward encounters of her career.
You're nervous? I'm nervous!
That's good - that gives me a lot more confidence!
Some of the questions really surprised her.
In particular, there was one from a young girl.
'Hello. In the event of a nuclear war, where will you be?'
Oh, my goodness me!
Gasps from everybody.
And Margaret Thatcher said, "Well, the whole point of our policies
over the last 30 years is that this will not happen."
The whole point of those weapons is to say, "Any war will be
"so horrific that it doesn't start" and that's been right - it hasn't.
So that's the purpose of it, dear.
-'But if there is one, where will you be?'
-I shall be in London.
So the child was persistent.
"You know, if it did...have you got a bunker under number 10?!"
'Have you got your own bunker or something?'
Look, dear, let me again point out that the possession of these weapons
has kept the peace for 40 years.
Questions you couldn't ask. It would be naive to do that.
"Do you have your own bunker?" Nailed her to the wall.
It's like the bully in the playground.
They don't attack strong guys, they try to attack the weak ones.
Thank you, let's move on to the next call...
And it was left to the Sunday papers to reveal there is indeed
a bunker under Number 10.
After a bruising encounter with a persistent caller,
the Prime Minister then had to face an even more daunting task...
Judging the week's pop videos.
# A heartache. #
They used to sing in Wham! That's Pepsi and Shirlie and Heartache.
Good voices, professional production,
but not quite what I would expect of Heartache.
I would say three.
She was honest. I mean, she could easily have mugged up
and got her people to say "We want to know what the videos are."
She could have sat down at home and watched them and made some notes.
But she didn't.
She was honest and said "Look, I won't pretend to be a big pop fan,
"I won't pretend to know anything about them, I'll judge them on what I hear."
-Kelly, thank you.
-Thank you, Kelly.
That's all we have time for, Prime Minister.
Equally at ease with heads of state and stubborn children, John Craven's
appearances on Saturday morning brought a new audience to Newsround.
'Help at last for the victims of Africa's man-made famine.'
Newsround figures went up,
as a result of John becoming more of a friendly figure than a newsreader.
It worked tremendously well for us.
Newsround's reputation had grown with its audience,
with the programme often breaking stories that would once have been exclusive to the newsroom.
'Shocked reaction to the news that Pope John Paul II has been shot.'
A gunman shot at the Pope in his Popemobile just before he was about
to make his appearance at a regular audience in St Peter's Square, Rome.
Newsround, for a long time, was the first bulletin of the day.
There was no breakfast news, no lunchtime news,
no 24-hour news stations.
It meant that we got quite a few scoops.
In a decade when nations woke up to the plight of the third world,
from famine in Africa to poverty in India, Newsround dispatched John
in person to report back on global issues and meet iconic figures.
for the Newsround Extra strand.
For being a good boy, sitting in the studio for nine months,
they let me out and I went to some fascinating places.
I went to the Taj Mahal and explained the effects
of pollution and the way it was eating away at the marble there.
I went looking for tigers and all sorts of things.
Today, Newsround Extra is in India, and I'm on my way
to the city of Calcutta to meet an extraordinary lady...
A woman who is as famous throughout the world
but who herself is poor as the people she cares for...
In the 1980s, an Albanian nun called Mother Teresa had become
renowned throughout the world for her work with the poor and needy.
I knocked on the door... and I couldn't believe it.
Mother Teresa opened the door!
One of the most famous ladies in the world.
Did you ever imagine when you began your work here,
that you would become so famous?
Nothing at all.
Talking about me, naturally they speak about the poor.
In helping me, naturally, they are helping them.
It was early morning and Mother and the 300 nuns who live here
had just finished mass and were preparing for the day ahead.
And she said to me,
"We have a habit, a spare habit and a bucket to wash them in.
These are our only possessions.
I said to her, "What about the Order Of Merit that the Queen gave you?"
Because the merit is one of the highest awards she can give.
I said, "I've never seen you with it."
She said, "Let me take me you to my private chapel."
And there was a statue of the Madonna
with the Order Of Merit around her neck, and she said it was for her.
God bless you.
Thank you, Mother.
Mother Teresa might have welcomed John in person,
but in South Africa, where inequality was a product of government policy,
one door slammed firmly shut.
I went there to do some filming,
and got to the airport in Johannesburg and this official looked
in his big book and he said,
"I'm sorry, Mr Craven but you're banned in this country."
So I wasn't allowed in and I went on to Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, instead.
It was only later that I discovered that the South African government,
who had tapes of all BBC bulletins sent to Pretoria,
didn't like the way that whenever Newsround mentioned apartheid,
we qualified it to explain what it meant.
Apartheid, separation of black and white people in South Africa.
The South African cricket team is strictly whites only,
in line with the apartheid laws.
This local club for white South Africans is next door
to one for the blacks, but there, the conditions are very different.
They didn't like that constant repetition of the fact, so that's why I was banned.
Very proud of that.
After 15 years in the Newsround hot-seat,
John also became the programme's editor in 1987.
A year that saw the Great Storm and the Hungerford massacre.
Conscious of the programme's responsibility to explain
the most sensitive topics to its young audience,
Newsround then tackled the AIDS crisis.
Now for that special report that I told you about last night.
Scientists in many countries are searching for a cure
for a deadly disease called AIDS,
which is very much in the news at the moment.
'We thought it was important to cover AIDS because we'd been told
'that children were getting the wrong ideas about AIDS.
'They thought they might get it from toilet seats.'
They thought they might get it if their daddy gave them a kiss.
Stupid things like that.
You know, playground gossip, which goes out of all proportion.
So I thought it was important that we set the record straight.
And we did it without mentioning sex, which was an achievement!
Its main victims are some older people
and because of all the attention that's been given to AIDS,
they should now be very much aware of the risks.
John's report would prove controversial...
for an unexpected reason.
In those days, Phillip Schofield was doing the presentation,
on children's television with his little puppet, Gordon the Gopher,
and I had a word with Phil, and I said, "Because Newsround
"is quite serious today, best not to lark about too much with Gordon."
He said, "Fine, we'll banish Gordon for those two slots."
Indeed, he did.
And I checked the audience log the next morning to see if there'd been
any complaints about tackling AIDS, and there'd been a couple.
But there were far more about Gordon the Gopher not appearing with Phillip!
Which put things into perspective.
"Gordon is cool," they say.
Look at that though. I mean, you are this morning!
Gophers aside, there is one furry creature with a special place
in the hearts of the Newsround audience.
Giant pandas. Giant pandas.
An urgent plan to save China's giant pandas.
The number of stories we ran about pandas was unbelievable.
A million pounds is need to help bring pandas together
and to keep people away. Roger Finn explains.
There was a huge vogue for pandas.
Pandas became almost a symbol of countries getting together.
Also, they're just incredibly cute.
I mean, there's no such thing as a dull panda picture.
In fact, we did an April fool once.
And finally, tonight, at London Zoo, attention has been growing over
the black-and-white egg that's been sitting in the panda cage.
The solitary egg with its distinctive markings
lay still among its small nest of straw.
A mystery to the visitors who daily peer into the panda cage.
But for Cha-cha, used to the glare of the camera,
it was just another day at the zoo,
munching thoughtfully on his diet of bamboo shoots.
April Fools' pranks are part of a Newsround tradition
of ending on a lighter story,
generally preceded with John Craven's trademark sign off, "And finally".
And finally today, the tale of the runaway cow that's been causing quite a commotion.
I didn't want the audience going to sleep having nightmares,
so we'd always end up with something amusing.
And finally tonight, a student from Bristol has slithered
into the record books by sitting in a bath of spaghetti for 73 hours.
And finally tonight, there's been strange happenings
on the Cheltenham Racecourse this morning,
where Operation Newt went into action.
"And finally" might be a Craven catchphrase
but its origin has been hotly debated.
There's always been a dispute between Newsround
and News at Ten over who was the first to say, "And finally".
I believe that Newsround was the first, no disputing.
The phrase even inspired a sketch on satirical puppet show
Mr Craven, sir, we're in a bit of a jam on the grown-up news
because we haven't got a funny story to put at the end.
Well, you jolly well can't have mine!
Oh, surely, I can have the one about Frank the tortoise who had some babies.
That's my lead story, it's a world scoop!
In a year that witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall
and the end of the Cold War, John Craven delivered his very last
"And finally" on 22nd June, 1989.
And finally, this is the last time I'll be saying, "And finally,"
and there's no funny story today because, for me,
this is a rather sad moment.
I've come to the end of my very last Newsround.
I've had a great time over the last 17 years bringing you the news
and I'd like to thank everybody behind the scenes
who's helped me do it.
'It was a very emotional day
'when I said goodbye to the Newsround audience.
'It had been so much a part of my life for such a long time'
and I'd been so proud of it - a television first,
a programme everyone respected.
The fiercest critics of television always had nice things
to say about Newsround.
Newsround will be back again on Monday, but from me, bye-bye.
Just three days after leaving Newsround,
John joined the BBC's fledgling rural affairs series Countryfile.
His very first report looked at the trend towards organic farming.
But now, more and more, consumers are wanting food
that's grown in this kind of soil,
that hasn't seen a drop of chemical of any kind for many years.
When I moved to Countryfile, my life couldn't have been more different.
After all those years of doing live television, I was working on a recorded programme.
And instead of being in a studio in London,
I was in the middle of fields, with the wind blowing your words away
and the frost sealing your lips, and still trying to look happy.
Since joining Countryfile in 1989, John has reported on everything
from the foot and mouth crisis to the Countryside March.
It's not just fox hunting,
it's the whole countryside, the country way of life.
In the process, he's won over a notoriously reticent audience.
Farmers have always been reluctant to talk to people like me
about their business and the way they feel about things.
Many of them wouldn't even tell their neighbours about that.
So with Countryfile, they realised eventually
that it was a very good platform for them to put over their point of view.
I think John Craven has built up a huge amount of respect
from farmers and landowners.
When there were difficult times in farming -
there was BSE, there were salmonella scares and animal welfare issues -
John went out and reported on them like a good journalist should.
He knows what he's talking about.
He cares about what he's talking about.
And most of all, he cares about the viewer.
He cares about the people watching.
..to protect the countryside from this...
With Countryfile regularly commanding audiences of 6 million viewers,
John's status as a household name is assured.
..says that when supermarkets set up shop,
that needn't mean disaster for local traders.
But with it comes the dubious honour of being impersonated.
Good morning, and welcome to Countryfile, with me, John Craven.
Think of me as a sort of decaffeinated Nick Ross.
One thing I've had to get used to recently is Jon Culshaw
taking me off on The Impressions Show.
Which came as a bit of a shock at first.
Hello again, and welcome to Countryfile with me, John Craven.
Yes, if they'd still let me wear a sweater,
I would go back to Newsround.
You don't realise that you have these kind of affectations
that Mr Culshaw has picked up on.
You see the red jacket there and the hands in the pockets,
and the way that he would sort of punctuate
the way that he would speak through the story or the item
with a certain amount of going to one side like that
and then over to the other side,
and there was this sort of visual rhythm
that accompanied the vocal style,
like that, which was a great thing to play with.
This week, I'm in Hertfordshire
to look at what remains of our wonderful British greenbelt
before it disappears completely.
The biggest surprise of all was on the 20th anniversary programme
of Countryfile, when I was just sitting and working
on my next bit of script, and suddenly behind me, I heard my voice.
Hello again, and on this special 20th anniversary of Countryfile,
what better way to surprise John Craven
-than with another John Craven?
-Jon, how are you?
-John Craven went to find out more.
Well, how about that?
It is a moment I enjoy,
that moment when you meet someone you do an impression of
for the first time. You never know how it's going to go.
It's always a bit tentative.
-Thank you very much. Look at the jacket!
Welcome to Countryfile.
Newsround was 20-odd years ago. This is what I do now. Get over it.
And you're looking for a little flicker of reaction,
as if to say, "Was it all right? Did we overstep the mark?"
I'm very impressed with the impression.
-I wasn't quite sure about being on Brokeback Mountain.
With Bill Oddie.
-That's what I call the funky gibbon.
So far, he's been quite kind to me. But I live in trepidation.
I think it'd be cool to do a sketch with John,
with John as he is now on one side, and I'd like to play his character
as it was from the 1970s, with the dark hair and jumpers and knitwear,
and see how they'd get on.
See how these two eras of John Craven
would interact with each other in a sort of Life On Mars kind of way.
That might be fun, if he'd do that.
In the five decades
since John Craven first appeared on our screens, the world has changed.
Wars have been won and lost. Politicians have come and gone.
Fortunes have been made and squandered.
Yet some things remain constant.
From my point of view, my job has hardly changed
since I was a junior reporter on the Harrogate Advertiser.
It's still reporting the truth, getting the facts right
and then reporting them in a way that people will find entertaining,
informative and balanced.
Those journalistic values underpin
the success of a programme that is still going strong after 40 years.
Ladies and gentlemen,
the BAFTA Special Award goes, of course, to Newsround.
A lot of people in our business tend to be remembered for programmes
which they personally would prefer to forget.
But I'm terribly proud of Newsround - always have been.
It comes as a bit of a shock, though, these days, when people
who I think look pretty old come up to me
and say, "Thank you for being part of my childhood."
Generations of us have grown up with John Craven, and those who have been lucky enough
to work with him have cherished the experience.
We all genuinely liked each other, and we very much loved John.
I think you can smell it through the screen.
And that, I think, made the audience all the fonder of John.
We can even forgive him the occasional fashion faux pas.
Yeah, I mean, he did have some amazing pullovers,
which I hope he's now sold or given to Oxfam.
But then again, I have to confess, we all did.
I'll swap this jumper,
because people are always asking about my jumpers.
If you say John Craven's name to people,
they'll smile and always say something appreciative.
And that is the mark of somebody
who's made an area of broadcasting their own.
Somewhere in a distant corner of Britain,
John Craven is still doing what he does best.
I've been on television
a long time now, almost every week, I suppose, for the last 40 years.
It's such a great job,
because you never know what's going to happen next week.
And that keeps me going, I think.
That desire to make sense of the world and share it with others
has driven John ever since he was old enough to hold a microphone.
If I come away thinking I've learned something, maybe the audience have as well.
-What do you want?
-Sorry, but we've still got a bit of work to do.
Oh, yeah, it's rapidly getting dark.
-We've got the last bit to do.
-Look at that, sunset.
'I hate the thought of retiring.
'I'll keep on going as long as people want me to.
'I'll probably be retired, rather than volunteer to retire.'
I just want to keep on going.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Bye-bye for now.
Celebrating 40 years of John Craven on the BBC.
Generations have grown up with John Craven, a television legend whose career has spanned 40 years. This one-off celebration of John's key moments is a nostalgic journey through the past four decades and includes interviews with Jon Culshaw, Noel Edmonds and Martin Bell. We also go behind the scenes of Countryfile to see John in action. From his psychedelic jumpers on Newsround to wellies on Countryfile, John's relaxed, informed and calm style has touched us all.