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Home > Media

Tough Love

24 December 2004

Obviously there is nothing remotely amusing about a grown woman falling 20 feet, fracturing her skull, breaking a collar-bone and a rib and consequently spending the rest of the festive season in hospital, in agony. Perhaps however, if that woman were the world's weirdest showbiz midget transvestite and she'd fallen from a giant telescopic beanstalk which had then in turn fallen on top of her and crushed her, it might be fair to describe it as a tad tragicomical.

The midget in question is of course actress Janette Tough, better known to millions of scarred 30-somethings as Wee Jimmy Krankie. Together with her husband and comedy partner Ian, Janette soared to fame in the eighties appearing on the yobbish children's cult TV show, Crackerjack. (And if you're reading this sentence without having paused to belt out the word 'Crackerjack!!!' in your head, with three exclamation marks - you dead.) (And again just then.)

And then.

Anyway, the horrible fall took place at Glasgow's Pavillion Theatre last Wednesday, during a matinee performance of some Christmas pantomime or other. The telescopic beanstalk, which was purchased for a princely sum of 8000 from dastardly Americans, collapsed, sending Wee Jimmy hurtling through the air - every inch an unwitting participant in an impromptu dwarf-tossing contest - and a very short time later landing on the head of young Garry Hollywood, who you may remember as Dominic in Take the High Road. Your remember - the chap with too many r's in his name.

Garry, sadly, suffered concussion, but he's most probably seeing the funny side now. Unfortunately, as all of this took place in the dark, all terrified husband Ian could hear from the wings was an almighty crash followed by a stomach-tossing squeal. And there are no photographs.

'I got the fright of my life,' he told the press, his crumpled face a lachrymose mess of love and terror. 'It was horrendous.' To make matters worse, it then continued to be horrendous as Ian had to hack his way through the suffocating foliage of the knackered beanstalk, in the dark, struggling to locate his tiny little wife. 'I fought my way through,' he recalled. Then: [Gulp.] 'I thought she'd gone.' Crumbs. That's heart-wrenching for you, right there. Picture him, on his hands and knees, tearing back layer after layer of blasted damn Yankee beanstalk leaves till there's nothing left. Just bare uncrept boards. 'She's gone!' The gulp gives way to a gasp, the gasp to a howl of gut-battering grief. Tears spew, fists fly up to heaven... Oh no - there she is. Behind that magic bean. But for a moment, maybe in his overwhelming panic, Ian had actually believed that the hideous boy-eating giant from the panto had somehow got the scent of Wee Jimmy's blood, and had eaten him up, bones and all.

Shit, no, wait! We missed a bit. He meant 'gone' as in 'dead'. Here: 'I fought my way into this cage and saw Janette lying out of the cage and blood was coming from her ear and she was unconscious. And Gary was unconscious. Although there was no blood on Gary.' No. Nor flies neither. And suddenly, just when you thought it really couldn't become so, our fantastical tale has become even more poignant.

If this story serves any purpose whatsoever, and we are striving to imply that it does, it reminds us that one should never, under any circumstances, judge a book by its cover. At least not if that book is a person. A proper book you can almost always judge by its cover, and with a certain degree of accuracy. But not a person. No. For years the Krankies have been the butt of ugly jokes suggesting either a) that they've got some sick faux-paedophile sex thing going on, with uniforms, or b) that Wee Jimmy is Ian's showbiz 'beard', like Cindy for Richard, or Tom for Nicole. This week however, the rumour-mill was derailed and laid once and truly to rest. With his heart-popping tenderness, Ian Tough has shown the nation that the only thing weird about his and Janette's marriage is how damn well sturdy it is after decade upon decade of working hard - and loving hard - together.

Imagine if it had been that Jennifer Aniston tumbling from a beanstalk. Would Brad Pitt have managed such a dignified and touching display of uxoriousness? Hardly. Why, the brute would probably have taken advantage of the darkness and stomped on her neck.

And that is pretty much that. This week, as Equity call for a review of the safety procedures at the Glasgow Pavilion, Janette lies in hospital, recovering. She complains of lower back pain, but Ian is there, as always, by her side, devoted, tireless, adoring. The telescopic beanstalk has been sent off for condemnation and the Krankies' replacements in the Scottish play - some ten a penny Scots soap actors, one of whom plays a character called 'Shell-suit Bob' (or possibly 'Boab') - will make do with 'a rope-style prop', which no-one will climb.

So, as you're tucking into your Christmas Day lunch this year, maybe having a wee giggle at Groundskeeper Willie in the corner of the warm and laughter-rich room, spare a thought for Ian and Janette Tough. And maybe, when you pull your crackers, you can shout 'Crackerjack' in their honour. That would be nice.

Crackerjack.



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