So here’s the issue that started it all. The blue cover with the big picture of the vain Emperor is now forever etched on many ST fans’ minds. In retrospect, I now think how inappropriate it was that Gobbolino did not appear on the cover, considering how iconic and popular the little cat was to become.
That said, Gobbolino had the honour of being the first ever story to appear in Story Teller (following a two-page spread introducing the series). The story of the witch’s cat’s search for a loving home would go on for three more issues (though, of course, owing to popular demand he returned in Story Teller 2 with further adventures with the Little Wooden Horse).
Sheila Hancock read Gobbolino brilliantly and I feel that she was one of the reasons why the serial became one of the most fondly remembered in the partwork’s history. However, I have to say that my favourite reader for this issue was Bernard Cribbins. He read The Hare and the Tortoise with gusto and his narration of The Emperor’s New Clothes came with infectious enthusiasm and a pinch of cheekiness that was difficult not to like. To this day, Emperor has remained one of my favourite stories.
Another endearing character, Aldo in Arcadia, made his debut in this issue. His comic adventures with his flying vacuum cleaner provided comic relief after the more serious and moralistic Shoe Tree and the thrilling Forest Troll. Nigel Lambert, Robert Powell, and John Brewer did a good job in bringing the characters to life, though I did observe that – unlike with the other stories – you had to look at the magazine while listening to the tape to follow the plot as Aldo was written more as a comic strip than a straight story.
The light-hearted and amusing Red Nightcaps completed the line up for Part 1, making me want to fast forward to the next fortnight so that I could buy the next issue …