The story of Britain's first fast-turnaround television serial... ATV   Network   is   proud   to   'Return   To   Crossroads'   with   a   look   at   the   award   winning   serial   which   first   aired   on   ITV   back   in   1964 and   was   soon   climbing   up   the   television   ratings;   the   show   ultimately   becoming   ITV's   most   popular   daytime   series   ever   -   a record   which   remains   unbeaten.   We   also   look   at   Crossroads   Care,   which   was   founded   in   the   Midlands   in   1973   and   is   now   a leading   respite   charity.   The   foreword   to   the   DVD   has   been   written   by   the   man   who   brought   the   show   to   life   for   ATV,   Reg Watson. Reg went onto create many other serial hits including The Young Doctors, Cell Block H and Neighbours. A   newspaper   once   claimed   "Crossroads   is   the   biggest   hit   of   1965"   and   the   programme   went   on   to   be   voted   "Best   ITV programme   1967".    Throughout   the   1970s   the   series   also   was   bestowed   gongs   including   winning   Best   TV   Programme   three years   running   in   The   Sun   Television   Awards.   It   wasn't   just   populist   publications;   Telegraph   readers   placed   it   as   their   most favourite   serial   in   1974   too.   The   show's   leading   lady,   Noele   Gordon,   was   crowned   'Queen   of   Serial'   when   she   won   numerous awards in the TV Times yearly celebration of ITV stars. It   wasn't   all   sweet   however.   Despite   reaching   up   to   18   million   viewers   at   teatime   the   UK's   first   full   length   daily   serial   was attacked   by   some   critics   who   compared   it   to   hit   shows   such   as   Coronation   Street.   Corrie   at   that   time   only   aired   twice   a   week and   was   produced   as   a   continuous   drama   serial.   Very   working   class   Britain.   Often   described   as   'kitchen   sink   drama'. Crossroads was based on the American Soap Opera format and was more escapist and melodramatic. For   every   critic   who   hated   the   show   there   were   famous   faces   willing   to   stand   up   and   defend   it.   None   more   so   that   comedian and   presenter   Bob   Monkhouse   who   appeared   in   the   series   back   in   1966   and   hosted   a   Variety   Club   celebration   of   the   saga   in 1980.   Other   stars   to   enjoy   Crossroads   -   many   who   went   on   to   appear   in   the   programme   include   Sue   Nicholls,   Ken   Dodd, Bryan Mosley, Paul O'Grady, Victoria Wood, Tony Blackburn and Prince Philip who at his request visited the set. The   show   was   devised   to   give   the   Midlands'   its   own   serial,   and   also   to   promote   the   region   to   the   rest   of   the   UK   and   beyond. Something   it   managed   with   much   success,   Noele   Gordon   became   an   international   star   thanks   to   the   serial.   And   many   West Midland   locations   were   shown   off   to   their   prettiest   effect   within   the   show,   including   the   Chateau   Impney   Hotel,   Coventry Cathedral,   Birmingham   City   Canal,   Baschurch   Village,   Birmingham   Cathedral,   Wolverhampton   Speedway,   Tanworth-in-Arden and Selly Oak to name only a few. By   the   1980s   Crossroads   wasn't   alone   in   the   soap   world   -   other   daily   serials   arrived   on   UK   screens   including   The   Young Doctors   and   Neighbours.   Despite   this   the   show   was   still   deemed   'low   budget'   and   snipes   remained.   At   the   same   time Crossroads   was   able   to   command   up   to   16   million   viewers   despite   not   being   shown   on   the   same   night   or   time   across   the   UK. In Wales viewers saw the Midland serial at 5.20pm in the North East at 6.00pm and in the south at 6.30pm. Interestingly    Emmerdale    Farm,    which    aired    at    7pm,    rarely    managed    to    rate    better    than    the   ATV    series;    this    rather disgruntled   the   television   watchdog   who   frowned   upon   a   daytime   soap   topping   the   ratings   and   more   so   beating   prime   time 'more polished' serials. The IBA said the motel based saga was "distressingly popular." In   the   end   Crossroads   was   revamped   in   1985   making   it   one   of   the   most   modern   soaps   on   British   television.   The   show   had always   been   more   glamorous   and   middle   class   and   this   was   re-established   as   the   case   in   the   mid-1980s.   However   Central bosses   in   the   Midlands   were   fast   becoming   ashamed   of   "soap"   and   decided   that   drama   was   to   be   the   future.   In   1987 Crossroads was discontinued in order for more drama slots to be allocated to the studios of ATV Centre in Birmingham. This   new   documentary   aims   to   chart   the   on-screen   and   off-screen   events   that   shaped   a   show   that   has   become   a   Midland institution   while   many   of   its   characters   have   gone   into   British   folk   law.   The   show   has,   despite   being   off   air   for   30   years, proved   to   still   be   fondly   remembered   with   Network   DVD   releasing   over   20   volumes   -   that's   over   300   episodes   -   of   classic editions. ATV   is   not   making   any   money   from   this   production,   the   ATV   cut   of   the   profit   is   to   be   donated   to   the   Crossroads   Care   (Caring   for   Carers)    charity   based   in Worcestershire.   This   charity   -   now   one   of   the   biggest   respite   care   groups   in   the   world   -   was   founded   by   ITV   and   ATV   Network   in   1973   after   a   storyline   in the   soap   saw   one   of   the   characters   confined   to   a   wheelchair.   It   soon   became   clear   that   families   across   the   country   were   not   getting   the   support   they needed and so ITV and ATV stepped in by launching Caring for Carers with a £10,000 investment.
Interviewees
JANE ROSSINGTON Actress,   played   Jill   Richardson in the series.
TONY ADAMS Actor, played Adam Chance.
CAROLYN JONES Actress,         played         Sharon Metcalfe.
RICHARD THORP Actor, played Doug Randall.
BILL BUCKLEY Broadcaster,   who   launched   the ‘Meg Is Magic’ campaign.
JOANNE GOOD Broadcaster       and       Actress, played Carol Sands.
STAN STENNETT Actor   and   Entertainer,   played Harry Silver and Sid Hooper.
JANET HARGREAVES Actress,       played       Rosemary Hunter.
LYNETTE McMORROUGH Played Glenda Brownlow.
CHRISTOPHER DOUGLAS Actor      and      Writer,      played Martin Bell.
JEAN BAYLESS Actress,        played        Cynthia Cunningham.
CHARLES DENTON ATV    and    Central    Television’s Head of Programmes.
JOANNE FARRELL Played    Sarah    Jane    Harvey    / Louise Dixon.
NEIL GRAINGER Actor, played Phil Berry.
ANNETTE ANDRE Actress,          played          Sarah Alexander.
IAN TOWERS Newspaper journalist.
FAMILY OF KATHY STAFF The   loved   ones   of   Kathy,   talk about   the   actress   who   played Doris Luke.
PATRICIA BENTLEY The    wife    of    lead    actor    John Bentley,   who   also   appeared   as a ‘supporting artist’.
TOM RICHARDS Actor,    who    has    appeared    in many    of    Reg    Watson’s    other Australian serials.
SUE MANGER Colleague    of    Reg    Watson    at Grundy Television in Australia.
ALAN COLEMAN Director     and     Producer,     the first director of Crossroads.
ANGELA WEBB Actress, played Iris Scott.
CROSSROADS CARE Barbara      Rudge      and      Neil Gammie       talk       about       the charity.
DOUG MOODY Memories    from    an    Australian viewer       from       the       Seven Network screenings.
UK VIEWERS Stephen      Savva      and      Jean Hochet    recall    Crossroads    as viewers.
RETURN TO CROSSROADS: CROSSROADS CARE CHARITY DVD
The Return To Crossroads DVD project, as reported by The Weekly News.
With thanks to: The below organisations and people have been hugely helpful with the project: Alpha Tower Birmingham, Apollo Hotel Edgbaston, Birmingham Cathedral, Birmingham Central Library, Château Impney Hotel, Crossroads Care West Midlands and Caring for Carers Worcestershire, Dajavu Video Editing Services Newcastle, Birmingham City Council/Lodge Hill Cemetery, Glen Allen, St David’s Hall Cardiff, St. Mary The Virgin Church Ross On Wye, St Lawrence Church Birmingham, Darren Gray Management, DC Thompson / The Weekly News, Reg Watson and ITV Rights / ITV Archive. Transport: London Cars / Unicon Carriages and Lady Cars with thanks to Martyn and Denise. With appreciation to Nick Coleman for filming in Australia.
Return to Crossroads produced by ATV Network in association with the Crossroads Appreciation Society and the Noele Gordon Estate.
Crossroads producer Reg Watson, pictured with lead actress Noele Gordon. Reg has written the foreword for the DVD.