Stop Look Listen: Jack and the Beanstalk (partially found live-action educational TV series; 1999-2004)
Jack and the Beanstalk was a British educational musical television series commissioned by Channel Four Learning and SFTV in 1999 as part of their Stop, Look, Listen series. It starred Hannah Storey as Jack, Andy Hockley as his mother and Dona Croll as the Giant's Wife. The Giant was represented by a legs puppet (the character's head was never seen on camera, though he was described by Jack in one episode as "huge, hairy and horrible.")
The series consisted of five episodes, each focusing on a different element of sound (duration, volume, pitch etc.)
The series was written by Simon Davies, produced by Sheila Fraser, who also wrote the accompanying Teacher's Guide, and directed by Helen Sheppard.
Jack: Pants role played by Hannah Storey. Series protagonist. Jack is young, adventurous and naive. He always wants to do the right thing by his mother. Full of bravado, Jack believes he is not afraid of giants until he actually meets one he describes as "huge, hairy and horrible." He appears in all episodes.
Jack's Mother: Drag role played by Andy Hockley. She loves Jack dearly but also recognizes his shortcomings. She loves music too, to the point of filling her house with contents that make music whenever they are used (including the stairs, chairs, doormat and mirror.) She appears in all episodes.
The Giant's Wife: Played by Dona Croll. A human who is married to the Giant. She is loyal to her husband and if often seen cooking and cleaning for him, but also enjoys having visitors and so keeps their presence a secret from him. She is never present when Jack steals items from the castle, though she never confronts him over the fact that they've gone missing. At the end of the final episode, it's implied that she now thinks a lot less of him after being told by her husband that he was the one stealing their belongings. She appears in Up the Beanstalk!, I Hear Thunder and Run, Run as Fast as You Can.
The Giant: Represented by a giant legs puppet except for the scene at the beginning of episode 5 in which an actual person's legs were filmed in close up. Series antagonist. Owns a number of items which provide him with wealth, including a purse that makes golden coins, a hen which lays golden eggs (which he keeps in a cage and treats poorly,) and the harp that plays all by itself. His first lines in each episode he appears in are "Fee Fie Foe Fum / I hear the sounds of an Englishman" followed by a rhyming couplet reflecting the musical focus of the episode and expressing his desire to eat Jack (ie. from episode 2 about pitch, he says "Be they low sounds, be they high / I'll catch him and bake him in a pie.") He appears in all episodes except To Market, To Market.
Daisy the Cow: A pantomime cow that loves to play clapping games with Jack. She is sold at market in the first episode for magic beans and bought back by Jack's Mother at some point prior to the final episode, when Jack promises to never sell her again. She appears in To Market, To Market and Run, Run as Fast as You Can.
To market, To market
(Found) Jack and his mother are very poor and live in a house where all its contents make music when they are used. As per the story, Jack is sent by his mother to a market where he has to sell their cow, Daisy. Instead of money, Jack returns with magic beans, which his mother throws out the window. Soon after, the beans grow into a giant beanstalk.
Music focus: Beat and Rhythm.
(Originally aired 21st September 1999 on Channel 4)
Up the Beanstalk!
(Partially Found) Jack climbs the beanstalk all the way into the sky, where he meets a frog that tells him about a Giant who lives in a castle. Jack goes to the castle and meets the Giant's wife, who plays a game with Jack where he has to guess whether the sound she is making is high or low (ie. she rings a tiny bell to make a high sound and a giant bell to make a low sound.) The Giant returns home and frightens Jack by threatening to "catch him and bake him in a pie," so Jack hides under the table. The Giant orders his wife to make gold with a magic purse, which she does by swinging it around and vocally making a high sound and a low sound. While the Giant and his wife have left to put the gold in the safe, Jack takes the magic purse home with him and makes gold for his mother.
Music focus: Pitch (High and Low sounds).
(Originally aired 28th September 1999 on Channel 4)
Oh Lay, Oh Lay
(Lost) Jack shows the audience an instrument he has made called a "hose-o-phone," and challenges the audience to guess whether it makes a long sound or a short sound (it makes a long sound.) After his mother dismisses the instrument, Jack goes back up the beanstalk and pays another visit to the Giant's castle, where he finds a hen in a cage which lays golden eggs. Jack steals the hen (whom, it is implied, is treated terribly by the Giant.) Jack's mother, meanwhile, has used the gold from the magic purse to buy a Virtual Visual Music Machine, on which the playing of real-life musical instruments can be demonstrated. After showing the audience a clip of a man playing a tuba and explaining how it works, Jack returns with the hen and shows it to his mother, and tells the hen about the house by singing an abridged version of "Clock with the Regular Beat."
Music focus: Duration (Long and Short sounds).
(Originally aired 5th October 1999 on Channel 4)
I Hear Thunder
(Lost) Jack visits the Giant's castle and finds his wife singing a song about sounds that are loud and quiet ("The Loud and Quiet Song") along with a magical harp that plays all by itself. Jack joins in but is interrupted by the return of the Giant who has a sore throat. Jack hurriedly leaves but not before promising the Giant's wife that they'll sing the whole song together next time he visits. Back home, Jack tells his mother about the harp but she doesn't believe him, insisting that harps need somebody to pluck their strings. After showing him an example of a real harp being played on the Virtual Visual Music Machine, Jack still insists that what he saw was real, so his mother sends him back up the beanstalk to fetch it. Jack returns to the Giant's castle and finds the Giant asleep at the kitchen table. Jack and the Giant's wife sing The Loud and Quiet Song together, after which the Giant's wife leaves and Jack prepares to take the harp. However, he accidentally wakes the Giant up by strumming the harp before hurrying out the door.
Music focus: Volume (Loud and Quiet sounds.)
(Originally aired 12th October 1999 on Channel 4)
Run, Run as Fast as You Can
(Partially Found) Picking up right from where the previous episode left off, Jack is chased back home by the Giant. He gives that harp to his mother and, at his mother's suggestion, chops the beanstalk down to prevent the Giant from getting to the house. Instead of falling to his death as per the usual story, in this version, the Giant makes it back up to the top of the beanstalk in time. Jack initially feels sad that he can no longer climb the beanstalk, but his mother cheers him up by showing him that she has recorded some of the songs from the series onto her Virtual Visual Music Machine. Jack watches the video clips of "Up the Beanstalk" and "The Loud and Quiet Song" before discovering that his mother has bought Daisy back from the market. Jack's mother, having had a costume change, explains to the audience that her house means more to her than all the money in the world, before leading the finale of "Clock with the Regular Beat." Meanwhile, up in the sky, the Giant's wife promises her husband jacket potato should Jack ever return to the castle.
Music focus: Tempo (Fast and Slow sounds).
(Originally aired 19th October 1999 on Channel 4)
Clock With the Regular Beat: Sung by Jack. Appears in To Market, To Market, Oh Lay, Oh Lay (abridged) and Run, Run as Fast as You Can (duet with Mother.)
The Mirror Song: Sung by Jack's Mother. Appeared in To Market, To Market and I Hear Thunder.
The Beanstalk Song: Sung by Jack. Appears in To Market, To Market ("Up" only,) Up the Beanstalk! ("Up" and "Down") and Run, Run as Fast as You Can ("Down," "Up" in flashback.)
The Loud & Quiet Song: Sung by the Giant's Wife and Jack. Appears in I Hear Thunder and Run, Run as Fast as You Can (flashback.)
Broadcast, Release, and Accessibility
The series was shown and repeated in the Education Blocks on Channel 4 in the UK from 1999 to 2006 and was also broadcast on the ABC in Australia during the Morning Education Block between 2000 and 2004. It was released on VHS in the UK in 2002 and a soundtrack album was also released in the UK as well. The series was never released on DVD and the VHS is extremely difficult to find. Good Ol VHS has uploaded the first Episode "To market, To market" to their YouTube channel, recorded off air. 61citystars has uploaded incomplete recordings of Episode 2 "Up the Beanstalk!" and Episode 5 "Run, Run as Fast as You Can" to their YouTube channel, and the User 90s Kid has uploaded the songs from the Soundtrack Album to their YouTube Channel. Other than that, it would appear that the series is not available online.
- A YouTube link to the soundtrack album of Stop Look Listen: Jack and the Beanstalk.
- An eBay posting of one of the VHS release of the show.
- Fraser, Sheila; Stop, Look, Listen: Jack and the Beanstalk: Teacher's Guide; ISBN 1-86215-533-X.
- An archived ABC TV page from the Show's first airing. Retrieved 02 Feb '21