John Bercow unmasked: Ex-Speaker receives Crackerjack award in unearthed clip

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Former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow became famous for his eloquence, his loud ties and allowing Remain-leading politicians to table emergency debates about Brexit. What is perhaps less known about him, though, is that he made his first TV debut while he was still a child. In 1975, Mr Bercow appeared in an episode of the chaotic children’s television programme, Crackerjack.

The 12-year-old long-haired schoolboy looked nervous in his school blazer and tie as he was introduced to an audience of chanting children on the popular show by host Ed Stewart.

Mr Stewart introduced “John” as one of the four schoolboys who took part in a race involving scooping up curtain rings onto broom handles.

Mr Bercow managed to scoop up just two of the four rings and finished last in the weekly show, known for its catchphrase: “It’s Friday, it’s five o’clock, it’s Crackerjack!”

The future politician was awarded a Crackerjack pencil for his efforts.

He was told by the host: “I hope you have happy writing days!”

Crackerjack ran from 1955 to 1984 and was presented by hosts including Eamonn Andrews, Leslie Crowther, Michael Aspel, Ed Stewart, and Stu Francis.

Every time the host said the word “crackerjack”, the children in the audience at the BBC Television Theatre would scream “crackerjack” back, giving the show its frantic atmosphere.

Mr Bercow briefly returned to the limelight this morning, as he accused the Government of “juvenile bed-wetting” for removing the whip of his friend, Tory MP Julian Lewis.

Mr Lewis has been kicked out of the Conservative Party after beating Chris Grayling to become chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

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Mr Grayling, being No 10’s preferred choice, was widely expected to get the role – but concerns had been raised that the body’s impartiality could be undermined so MPs backed Mr Lewis instead.

A senior Government source told the BBC that Mr Lewis “has been told by the chief whip that it is because he worked with Labour and other opposition MPs for his own advantage”.

In a furious attack against Boris Johnson, though, Mr Bercow described Downing Street’s revenge campaign against Mr Lewis as an example of the Prime Minister’s team “throwing their toys out of the pram”.

He told Sky News: “If the Prime Minister didn’t know the provisions of the 2013 Justice and Security Act, that is itself frankly disturbing.

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“If he did… but chose nevertheless to interfere in this albeit clumsy and ham-fisted but rather Etonian fashion, that is truly disgraceful.”

It is the first time Mr Bercow has spoken out after a couple of months out of the spotlight.

During his time on the chair, the former MP for Buckingham was often accused of not respecting constitutional conventions and showing a pro-Remain bias in his parliamentary decision-making.

In October, he became the first former Speaker in 230 years not to be offered a seat in the House of Lords.

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