The   BFI   have   noted   that   ‘Crossroads   was   ahead   of   it's   time.’   And   who   are   we   to   disagree   with   that.   Especially   as   in   many   ways   it   is   true.   The   show   dared to   be   a   daily   serial   in   the   UK   when   other   regional   ITV   companies,   and   the   BBC,   said   it   would   never   work.   It   wasn't   just   its   format   that   was   new   to   these shores - It covered taboos, it covered many social issues. Here you'll find some of those firsts, and a few other facts about the soap too.
Fact File
Research by Douglas Lambert, Peter Kingsman, Mike Garrett and Ian Armitage. Text: Copyright Crossroads Fan Club 2018.
Reg   Watson,   the   series'   producer,   created   the   name   Crossroads.   Suggestions   by   a   number   of   production   crew   had   come   up   with   rejects   such   as   "Motel"   and "Highway".   Also   a   newspaper   competition   for   public   suggestions   for   a   name   drew   a   blank.   The   original   title   devised   for   the   series   by   Peter   Ling   and   Hazel Adair was "The Midland Road" but ATV bosses didn't like the sound of it. While   the   name   'Motel'   was   rejected   by   ATV   the   Seven   Network   in   Australia   used   the   title   for   their   remake   of   Crossroads   in   the   late   1960s.   A   short   lived series for Network Ten in 1977 - Hotel Story - also failed to charm the viewers down under. Storylines   were   planned   three   months   in   advance,   and   although   during   the   1980s   only   three   episodes   aired   a   week   four   per   week   were   still   produced giving the crew long summer and Christmas breaks. 1979   figures   concluded   that   Crossroads   had   employed   thus   far   5,000   actors   and   issued   over   20,000   ATV   contracts.   The   stats   men   had   also   concluded that 52 tons of script paper had been used and over half a million words written. When   actors   first   joined   Crossroads   they   were   on   weekly   contracts.   These   progressed   to   three-month   and   then   finally   key   players   would   be   issued   yearly contracts. This   enabled   the   show   to   make   sure   the   actors   who   became   regulars   could   cope   with   producing   two   and   a   half   hours   of   drama   a   week   -   which   at that time was an hour and a half more than any other serial. Landmark   dates:   Episode   500   was   celebrated   with   a   cast   party   on   30th   September   1966,   episode   1500   aired   on   May   25th   1971   and   the   3000th   edition was   broadcast   on   August   18th   1978.   Edition   4000   was   transmitted   on   November   20th   1984.   The   2000th   episode   was   a   ‘two   hander’   between   Meg Richardson   and   Sheila   Harvey,   as   the   pair   reminisced   including   ‘flashback’   footage.   The   episode   ended   with   Sheila   giving   birth   on   the   Harvey’s   living room floor. By   the   end   of   the   1970s   over   3200   episodes   had   been   recorded   -   although   less   than   half   that   number   had   been   kept   in   the   archives.   Every   Central Television produced   episode,   made   between   1982   and   1988,   remains   in   the   archives.   The   ATV   Network   editions,   made   between   1964   and   1981,   suffer   missing programmes   in   every   year   up   to   Central   taking   over   the   serial.   These   losses   render   it   impossible   to   repeat   its   most   popular   era   on   mainstream   television such   as   ITV3,   however   a   network   could   screen   it   with   little   issue   from   late   1977;   as   many   episodes   survive   after   this   period.   Big   Centre   TV,   despite   the gaps, re-ran all surviving editions from 1965 to 1976 on their Midland-based service in 2016. Up   to   1984   when   the   original   format   of   the   series   came   to   an   end,   there   had   been   a   number   of   babies   born   in   the   series.   Controversial   ones   such   as Sheila   Harvey's   illegitimate   daughter   and   Kevin   and   Glenda   Bank's   test   tube   baby.   While   criticised   for   the   character   of   Glenda   (Lynette   McMorrough) 'getting   pregnant'   quickly   via   a   test   tube   process   the   show   did   feature   another   minor   character   that   had   tried   for   'a   long   time'   to   get   pregnant   in   this way, unsuccessfully. There   were   also   sad   miscarriages,   which   Ruth   Frazer   suffered   in   1968   after   a   hit-and-run,   and   Jill   Harvey   lost   a   child   which   left   her   obsessed   with sister-in-law   Sheila’s   baby,   who   for   a   time   she   and   Stan   ‘adopted’.   Some   children   were   not   to   remain   in   Kings   Oak   long.   Diane   Lawton’s   son   Nicky   was kidnapped   by   his   father   Frank Adam.   Diane   took   herself   away   to   Oxford   where   she   attempted   suicide   while   by   the   early   1980s   Jill   had   ultimately   lost both   her   children;   Stan   took   their   daughter   Sarah   Jane   to   Germany,   and   step-brother   Anthony   (yes   she   went   there)   took   their   child   Matthew   to America. In   the   first   20   years   of   the   Birmingham   production   there   had   been   25   Crossroads   deaths.   The   first   on-screen   death   was   that   of   Victor   Amos,   businessman and part owner of the Night and Day Car-Hire service in the village.
Some   characters   have   been   written   out   due   to   the   unexpected   death   of   the   actor.   The   first   Crossroads   star   to   die   while   still   active   in   storylines   was Beryl   Johnstone.   Beryl   played   one   of   the   leading   roles   in   the   saga   as   Kitty   Jarvis   -   Meg   Richardson's   sister.   She   fell   ill   during   the   night,   and   died   at home   in   the   small   hours.   The   cast   only   discovered   her   fate   when   she   didn't   turn   up   for   filming   later   in   the   day.   Kitty   was   killed   off   some   weeks   later with a heart attack. The loss of Kitty saw Joy Andrews' role of Tish Hope expand. The   last   actor   to   die   while   in   the   series   was   Roger   Tonge   who   played   Meg's   son,   Sandy   Richardson.   He   had   been   suffering   from   Cancer   since   1975,   but continued   to   work   on   Crossroads   right   up   until   the   week   before   he   died   in   1981.   Jane   Rossington   told   us   that   you   can   see   in   those   final   weeks   how   ill   Roger looks,   but   he   carried   on.   Roger   would   work   Monday   to   Friday   on   Crossroads,   and   then   spend   the   weekend   in   a   hospice   where   he   was   issued   treatment, before   driving   himself   back   up   the   motorway   to   Birmingham   on   the   Monday   morning.   Having   fallen   ill   with   Chickenpox   his   immune   system   couldn't   cope and he died only hours after speaking with Jane Rossington on the phone. He told her, in that final chat, how much better he was feeling. Some   actors   appeared   in   the   saga   with   different   characters.   Jack   Haig   first   appeared   as   a   taxi   driver   before   returning   later   as   semi-regular   Archie Gibbs.   (As   a   side   note   it   was   Archie   who   called   ‘Miss   Diane’   that   first,   long   before   Benny).   David   Lawton   is   best   known   as   chef   Bernard   Booth,   he appeared   as   an   Italian   chef   who   lampooned   Spanish   chef   Carlos’   cooking   (Tony   Morton).   Heather   Chasen   appeared   as   a   newspaper   reporter   before joining   as   superbitch   Valerie   Pollard   while   Angus   Lennie   played   a   solicitor   before   returning   as   chef   Shughie   McFee   and   Tony   Adams   featured   as   an estate agent a decade before returning as accountant Adam Chance. Meg   had   three   adopted   children:   Stevie   Harris   played   by   Wendy   Padbury,   Melanie   Harper   played   by   Cleo   Sylvestre   and   Bruce   Sorbell-Richardson   played   by Paul   Aston.   Meg’s   sister   Kitty   also   took   in   a   teenager,   with   plans   to   adopt.   The   Jarvis   family,   Kitty   and   Dick   with   son   Brian   welcomed   Shirley   Perkins   into the family home. Between   1964   and   1988   there   had   been   29   weddings   in   the   series.   In   1965   the   first   was   that   of   Tom   Yorke   to   Joyce   Hepworth   swiftly   followed   by waitress   Christine   Fuller   and   village   Milkman   Ralf   Palmer   in   the   same   year.   The   first   to   mark   an   off-screen   celebration   was   the   marriage   of   Andy Frazer   -   Meg   and   Kitty's   brother   -   in   1966   to   motel   secretary   Ruth   Bailey.   It   was   to   mark   500   episodes. The   next   milestone   marked   with   a   wedding   was that   of   Motel   Housekeeper   Kath   Brownlow   to   Stephen   Fellows   in   November   1985.   That   celebrated   21   years   of   the   soap.   The   last   Crossroads   marriage in the original series was Sid Hooper's marriage to Ivy Meacher in 1987. The   series   was   a   big   hit   with   viewers,   not   just   in   the   UK   but   also   in   several   other   countries   over   the   years.   In   1965   a   critic   said   Crossroads   was   the ‘television success of the year’ while Crossroads won ITV Programme of the Year as voted by TV Times readers in 1967. In   1971   and   1972   a   gallop   poll   asked   the   question:   "Which   is   the   best   TV   programme   you   have   seen   this   year?"   At   number   four   was   Crossroads.   In   1973, Crossroads had reached number one in the poll! There after it was a regular in the top ten rating programmes, and never out of the top twenty. Noele   Gordon   scored   a   notable   triumph   in   1969   when   she   was   the   only   woman   to   appear   in   the   TV   Times   Top   Ten   list   of   most   popular   performers.   She   was placed   eighth   despite   the   fact   that   Crossroads   was   not   fully   networked   across   ITV.   In   1970   viewers   again   demonstrated   their   affection   for   Noele   by   again voting her back into the Top Ten - and this time in seventh place. She would then go on to spend several more years at number one in the chart. From   1969   to   1978   Noele   won   at   least   one   award   in   the   TV   Times   awards,   one   year   she   took   away   three   gongs.   In   1974   and   1975   Crossroads   was   voted Programme   of   the Year   by   Daily Telegraph   readers   while   Crossroads   won   best   programme   in The   Sun Television Awards   four   years   running   and   Noele   Gordon was the first person to be placed in the TV Times Hall Of Fame in 1978.
Crossroads   was   the   first   television   drama   serial   to   put   a   telephone   help   line   on   the   end   of   the   programme   for   viewers   in   similar   situations   as   the characters to be offered help and advice. This is now a common practice across serials and drama. Unlike   other   soaps   where   ethnic   actors   were   added   for   simple   race,   or   racist,   storylines   Crossroads   added   all   kinds   of   actors   of   all   creeds   and   colours   to play   every   day   regular   people.   As   race   was   not   the   principal   reason   for   casting   actors   this   made   Crossroads   one   of   the   first   soaps   to   employ   many   Asian and African   performers   in   the   UK.   These   include   the   long-term   stars   such   as   Cleo   Sylvestre,   Salmaan   Peer   and   Daphne   Foreman   in   the   1960s,   Carl Andrews and Merdelle Jordan in the 1970s and Dorothy Brown in the 1980s. Crossroads   was   the   first   British   serial   to   introduce   a   regular   leading   black   family   to   soap.   The   Jamaica-born   Jameson   family   arrived   in   1974   after   Equity complained   about   the   lack   of   coloured   families   in   television   drama.   It   was   noted   other   twice-weekly   serials   ignored   these   findings.   (more   details   in   the 1998 book: Black In The British Frame, which lists all of Crossroads various ethnic characters.) ATV   sagas   were   the   first   to   regularly   use   Outside   Broadcast   Videotape   units   on   UK   serials.   Although   film   would   also   be   used   on   the   Crossroads production   until   1985;   when   OB   vans   were   un-available.   In   the   early   years   Crossroads   had   to   share   the   three ATV   film   cameras   located   in   Birmingham with ATV   News.   Production   notes   reveal   that   Crossroads   from   as   early   as   1965   were   using ATV's   pioneering   mobile   video   recording   equipment   for   the majority   of   location   work.   The   OB   Trucks   had   been   launched   in   1959   as   a   co-production   with ATV,   CBS   and   Radiodiffusion   France.   They   were   the   best OB facility of their day. Production notes from early 1965 showing Crossroads OB Video recording on location can be found in the document archive. The saga covered the taboo issue of a teacher and pupil affair in 1977 when teacher Richard Lord seduced his pupil, Lucy Hamilton. Crossroads   covered   illegal   immigration   in   1970   when   Melanie   Harper   tried   to   help   smuggle   her   French   boyfriend   into   Britain   while   in   1984   the   soap dealt   with   further   immigration   issues,   resulting   in   a   Polish   character   being   deported.   She   had   married   motel   restaurant   manager   Paul   Ross   to   stay   in Britain, but the authorities exposed her con. ATV   PR   notes   that   Crossroads   was   the   first   daytime   saga   to   record   episodes   abroad.   It   was   the   second   of   all   ITV   serials   to   record   abroad,   following Emergency   Ward   10   which   had   recorded   in   Paris   a   couple   of   years   earlier.   In   1965   the   team   also   flew   to   Paris   in   France   and   later   Torremolinos   in   Spain. Firstly   for   a   school   trip   storyline   with   Sandy   Richardson.   The   episodes   set   in   France   saw   the   teenager   enjoying   the   nightlife   of   Paris   including   a   visit   to Moulin   Rouge   and   the   Eiffel   Tower.   Later   in   the   same   year   Meg   Richardson   holidayed   in   Torremolinos   where   she   met   Australian   Kevin   Macarthur   -   who returned   to   the   motel   with   Meg   to   take   on   the   role   of   motel   manager.   Crossroads   would   venture   abroad   once   more   in   the   1960s.   In   1967   ATV   spent   a couple   of   weeks   recording   sequences   in Tunisia,   North Africa,   for   a   storyline   in   which   Meg   Richardson   oversaw   the   opening   of   the   Desert   Coral   Hotel   in   the City. Amazingly footage from all these ventures away survives in the archives. The   show   introduced   a   lesbian   to   the   proceedings   in   1983.   Gloria   Tilling,   niece   of   Doris   Luke,   had   a   female   lover   in   Greece   much   to   mother   Edna's disapproval. This   is   one   story   that   didn't   cross   over   to   the   2001   series   by   which   time   Gloria   had   a   son   -   motel   handyman   Bradley   Clarke,   who   ironically was gay! Interracial   issues   were   introduced   in   the   saga   in   1965   when   white   waitress   Marilyn   Gates   found   a   new   boyfriend   -   Asian   Jamil   Ashruf.   Crossroads   also looked   at   racist   abuse,   but   from   a   different   angle.   Certainly   ground   breaking   for   the   1970s   when   the   show   developed   a   storyline   where   an   Asian   family living in the village were very opinionated and greatly disapproved of their daughter’s relationship with a white man. Crossroads   bravely   ventured   into   the   world   of   unmarried   mothers   in   1964,   this   caused   fury   on   the   ATV   switchboards.   The   show   covered   it   again   a number of times across the years including with the characters of Diane Lawton, Sheila Harvey and Debbie Lancaster. Another   storyline,   which   caused   furious   viewers,   was   the   1969   witchcraft   storyline   taking   place   in   the   village   churchyard.   The   scenes   were   ‘too distressing’   noted   the   ITA   -   the   television   regulator   -   who   demanded   the   storyline   was   ‘quickly   brought   to   a   conclusion’.   One   of   these   spooky   episodes survives   as   an   audio   only   recording.   The   programme,   just   like   witchcraft   and   ghosts   in   the   60s   and   70s,   also   carried   a   storyline   concerning   Spiritualists. This 1983 story featured Ma Flood, local medium to Kings Oak.
The show is credited as being the first saga to have a Welsh family where the entire ensemble of actors were from Wales. Union   strikes   and   protests   were   covered   several   times,   some   in   more   detail   than   others.   In   1981   tomboy   car   mechanic   Carol   Sands   was   injured   during   a Birmingham protest. Later Kevin Banks found himself unemployed at the hands of a building union. The   programme   made   UK   history   by   having   the   most   episodes   for   any   non-factual   programme.   It   held   the   record   for   the   UK   serial   with   most   episodes up until 1997 when finally Coronation Street caught up over-taking the 4512 made in the original Crossroads run. In   1979   the   nation   went   into   a   campaigning   state   for   Benny   (actor   Paul   Henry)   in   Crossroads   when   he   was   wrongly   accused   of   murder. A   "Benny   is   Innocent" campaign   saw   t-shirts,   banners   and   petitions   across   the   UK   to   get   the   character   released.   It   was   noted   that   Birmingham   University's   buildings   (along   with   a number of others in the UK) were draped in Benny is Innocent banners. Previously   ATV   had   to   install   a   special   line   from   Winston   Green   Prison   in   Birmingham   through   to   ATV   when   a   storyline   saw   Meg   Richardson   jailed   for dangerous   driving.   Viewers   had   bombarded   the   prison   line   demanding   her   release,   and   continued   to   do   so   for   a   number   of   weeks   until   she   was.   Others wanted   to   visit   her   or   send   gifts!   Again   in   1980   the   same   happened   when   the   character   of   David   Hunter   was   shot,   100s   of   people   telephoned   the   local hospitals to see if he had arrived, many more rang ATV to discover what had happened to David (Ronald Allen). Other   instances   include   Stan   Stennett   helping   a   lady   who   had   broken   down   on   the   motorway   fix   her   car,   believing   it   was   ‘Sid   Hooper’   she   said   she   would send   payment   to   the   Crossroads   Motel   Garage.   ATV   also   had   letters   asking   for   waitress   roles   at   the   motel,   some   companies   tried   to   book   the   conference facilities and when a chef left the series real hotel chefs would offer to take their place! EastEnders   has   been   in   recent   years   hyped   up   as   the   soap   that   went   out   of   its   way   to   play   cat   and   mouse   with   the   press.   In   1981   Crossroads   staged numerous   fake   recordings   to   put   the   press   off   up-and-coming   plots.   Notably   the   fake   funeral   of   Meg   Mortimer   which   was   snapped   by   The   Sun newspaper   and   both ATV   News   and   ITN   News   recorded   undertakers   removing   a   body   from   the   ashes   of   the   Crossroads   Motel.   There   were   also   scenes recorded   with   Anthony   Morton   -   who   had   played   Motel   Chef   Carlos   in   the   1960s   -   lurking   in   bushes   near   the   motel,   ready   to   murder   Meg.   He   was reprising his role as Carlos' brother, Georgio - his evil twin out for revenge. Rape   first   featured   in   1965   and   sexual   assault   in   1967.   Crossroads   tackled   rape   again   in   1976   and   1985.   It   should   be   noted   also   that   the   end   of   episode   one in   1964   sees   Meg   Richardson   about   to   be   sexually   assaulted   by   a   drunken   site   worker   from   the   nearby   motorway   road   works.   Crossroads   covered   the   issue of underage sex numerous times. In 1984 the show went as far as to look into whether it was right for doctors to give young teenagers contraception. Drugs   were   never   too   far   away   from   the   motel.   From   being   addicted   to   prescription   drugs   to   the   harder   illegal   habits,   Crossroads   looked   into   the   UK's drug   problem   years   before   Brookside.   In   1978   concerns   were   raised   that   one   guest   was   taking   illegal   substances,   while   in   1984   a   more   detailed   look at illegal drug use climaxed in the death of the character Pete Maguire when he overdosed on heroin.
"Crossroads,   unlike   other   soap   operas,   has   a   strong   and   active   social   conscience,   illustrated   by   the   topical   and   often   controversial   subjects   it   covers" - Central press release. The   Crossroads   Caring   For   Carers   Scheme,   is   now   the   world's   biggest   voluntary   organisation.   It   all   started   in   the   soap   opera,   following   a   1972   storylin which   saw   the   character   of   Sandy   Richardson   lose   the   use   of   his   legs   after   a   car   accident.   Much   more   on   this   in   our   dedicated   Crossroads   Care section. The   Crossroads   production   team   helped   found   a   ward   in   a   Birmingham   hospital   dealing   with   Kidney   disease   after   a   1977   storyline   featured   the   issue.   How to   avoid   a   heart   attack   and   the   after   care   having   suffered   one   was   weaved   into   the   storylines   between   1974   and   1977   when   the   businessman   Hugh Mortimer suffered an attack. The show also covered, in 1966, blood donation covered which also tied in with a blind girl's storyline. Anti-smoking   may   be   a   part   of   everyday   life   now,   but   back   in   the   1960s   it   was   un-heard   of   pretty   much   on   television.   In   1968   Crossroads   covered   the issue   of   smoking   related   illnesses,   although   no   character   died   -   due   to   the   IBA   not   allowing   characters   to   smoke   in   Crossroads   without   special permission. Permission was granted only once in the 1970s when a character before jumping under a moving train was allowed to light up. In   1981   Doris   Luke   was   attacked   in   her   own   home   after   answering   a   door   to   a   stranger,   this   lead   to   an   awareness   drive   to   get   the   elderly   to   fit   chains   on their   doors   and   to   always   ask   for   ID   from   callers,   such   as   gas   and   electric   board   officials   while   In   1975   Diane   Parker   taught   Benny   Hawkins   to   read   and write   -   this   lead   to   a   national   literacy   campaign   which   was   praised   by   education   officials   and   MPs.   Another   story   which   gained   praise   was   that   of decimalisation and how the older Kings Oak villagers were coping. These scenes were praised in Parliament on behalf of The Post Office. Crossroads   won   much   praise   for   its   handling   of   the   Downs   Syndrome   story   of   Nina   in   1983,   the   story   became   national   news   when   it   featured   on   ITV's News   at Ten,   Lunchtime   News   and   many   newspaper   articles   followed.   Parents   of   downs   children   said   the   show   gave   an   accurate   portrayal   of   how   life is for such families. The work of the Samaritans was a long running storyline in the 1970s when Sandy Richardson decided to work for the helpline. Crossroads   also   covered   in   many   plots   alcoholism,   agoraphobia,   gambling,   squatters'   rights   along   with   the   already   mentioned      -   now   a   staple   part   of soap   opera   -   but   rare   at   the   time;   sexual   harassment,   adoption,   bigamy,   illegitimacy,   abortion,   suicide,   murder,   blackmail,   homelessness,   strikes, terrorism, abductions, cults, ghost haunting, political stances, mental health and physical disability.