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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Jackanory to return with Kingsley
Sir Ben Kingsley
Sir Ben Kingsley won an Oscar for his portrayal of Gandhi
Oscar-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley will be the first narrator in the revival of the classic children's storytelling series Jackanory.

The star of Gandhi and Sexy Beast will read Alan Temperley's oriental adventure The Magician of Samarkand.

It will be shown as three 15-minute programmes on CBBC and as a 45-minute special on BBC One later this year.

Jackanory originally aired between 1965 and 1996, with stars reading nightly extracts from children's novels.

The Magician of Samarkand will be directed by Nick Willing, who previously worked with Sir Ben in an Emmy award-winning TV version of Alice in Wonderland.

It is a real coup for us
Richard Deverell

BBC children's controller

It will incorporate animation, hand-painted illustrations and acted sequences.

"I am so happy to be part of Jackanory and Nick Willing's extraordinary vision," said Sir Ben. "I hope millions of viewers will enjoy this tale."

"We are utterly thrilled that Sir Ben Kingsley will be narrating one of the first stories," said BBC children's controller Richard Deverell.

"It is a real coup for us. He is an amazing actor."

Comedian John Sessions will be the programme's next narrator, reading Lord of the Rings parody Muddle Earth, written by Chris Riddell and Paul Stewart.

Big names

Former Jackanory storytellers include such big names as Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan.

Prince Charles read from his own book The Old Man of Lochnager.

Bernard Cribbins holds the record for the most appearances, notching up 111, while Kenneth Williams was another firm fixture with 69 episodes.

In its new incarnation, the programme will only return for special occasions, rather than a full series.

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