“Crossroads   was   the   kind   of   show   that   generated   a   lot   of   myths   and   stories…”   -   actor   Paul   Henry,   who   played   Benny   Hawkins.   Of   course   any   long   running television   production   is   going   to   be   host   to   such   things,   and   we’re   here   hopefully   to   provide   some   answers   to   those   myths   and   stories   seen   in   the   press, and more recently online.
Motel Myths?
Were Coronation Street and Crossroads 'Rivals'? No.   Both   shows   were   on   ITV   bringing   viewers   to   that   channel.   And   while   the   press   may   have   made   it   seem   like   the   shows   were   battling   each   other,   they weren't.   Granada   -   producers   of   Coronation   Street   -   may   have   however   at   times   been   baffled   that   a   cheap   'dodgy'   daytime soap   would   sometimes   beat   their   primetime   serial   in   the   ratings.   It   has   to   be   said   that   when   Granada   first   started   showing Crossroads   in   1972   they   only   showed   three   episodes   a   week   instead   of   four,   and   also   aired   the   motel   saga   in   an   early afternoon slot. Some suggest to try and stop the teatime show gaining such massive ratings. But   as   far   as   the   production   teams   go,   there   wasn't   even   that   kind   of   'production   company'   politics.   In   fact,   Crossroads producers   and   Coronation   Street   producers   have   co-operated   in   the   past   -   with   several   cast   members   switching   soaps. Johnny Briggs recalls his time at the Crossroads Motel lead directly to a 30-year stay in Weatherfield: "It   was   when   I   was   in   Crossroads   playing   taxi   firm   boss   Clifford   Leyton   that   the   Coronation   Street   producer,   Bill Podmore,   wanted   a   Londoner.   He   said   to   the   Crossroads   producer,   Jack   Barton,   'That   Johnny   Briggs,   is   he   alright?'   Jack said   'Yeah,   he   knows   his   lines,   he   turns   up   to   the   set   on   time,'   so   I   was   asked   to   do   it   and   I   said   'Ok,   I'll   do   three   months.'   Then   the   years   have   just crept up.." Deaths   of   actors   have   also   seen   both   shows   show   respect   for   their   fellow   thespians.   Its   noted   that   Coronation   Street   sent   flowers   to   both   the   funerals   of Noele Gordon and Roger Tonge. What is the name of the real motel that Crossroads is based on? It   is   said   that   Peter   Ling   drove   past   -   the   now   named   -   'The   Open   Country   Motel'   at   North   Gorley,   Fordingbridge   in   1964   and   the   idea   for   Crossroads   was born. It was one of the first motels to open in the UK. The complex was a haven for long-haul motorists becoming a popular stopping-off point on the A338. In   2003   plans   to   demolish   the   motel   were   submitted,   with   a   public   hearing   told   that   the   ageing   buildings   could   no   longer   pay   their   way,   and   the   complex should   be   replaced   with   private   homes.   The   motel   has   undergone   a   number   of   changes.   A   spell   as   a   nightclub   triggered   controversy,   culminating   in   a £6,000 court fine in 2002 for noise nuisance. The   Open   Country   was   still   trading   in   2006,   listed   in   online   web   directories   as   an   'all   day   diner'   -   The   Open   Country   isn't   the   complex's   real   name,   and   we are told it had many name changes over the years. If you know of its original name.. ..let us know! Can people really say they saw the walls sway? The   show   was   originally   only   due   to   run   a   few   weeks   so   ATV   didn't   invest   in   'proper'   sets.   Added   to   the   fact   the   show   was being   made   in   a   former   cinema   -   which   the   floor   space   was   shared   between   all   other   ATV   Midlands   (and   indeed   ABC Midlands)   programming.   For   those   early   months,   easy   to   store   and   quickly   build/remove   sets   were   used.   These   did   sway more   than   your   regular   studio   sets   -   but   once   Crossroads   was   commissioned   as   an   all   year   series   those   'proper'   studio   sets were built. The sets have slight wobbles no worse than those in any other series or show of that era there after. And   watch   any   show   of   the   same   era,   Coronation   Street,   Emmerdale   Farm   or   Emergency   Ward   10   and   you’ll   see   the   same mistakes,   set   issues   and   actor   gaffs   only   credited   to   Crossroads.   Producer   William   Smethurst   believed   Crossroads   got   the stick   more   than   the   others   due   to   Yorkshire   TV   protecting   Emmerdale   Farm’s   image   and   Granada   caring   about   Corrie   -   where,   he   believes,   no   one   was bothered to care or support Crossroads at ATV or Central. Mistakes only happen in Crossroads? Same   old,   same   old   peddled   out   by   obit   writers   and   critics   time   and   time   again   the   show   with   ‘wobbly   walls,   fluffed   lines   and   stilted   acting’.   If   you   believe the   rather   distorted   vision   of   the   soap   as   portrayed   through   some   of   the   media   ever   since   it   was   axed   in   1988   then   yes. The   truth   however   is   that   mistakes happened in all the shows of that era - even the lavish dramas and certainly the twice-weekly serials. There   are   wobbly   walls,   fluffed   lines,   cameras   showing   parts   of   the   studio,   microphones   in   shot   and   even   heard   prompts   in   episodes   of   1960s   Coronation Street. Even today in shows such as Emmerdale and EastEnders you'll see the odd microphone in view or slightly wobbly scenery. Soap Critic Tina Baker once said people laughed at Crossroads rather than with it, is that true? Well   people   who   didn't   watch   it   in   the   context   of   what   it   was   -   an   escapist,   entertaining,   soap   opera   no   doubt   did   do;   but   Tina   'rent-a-quote'   Baker   isn't right if she's referring to the regular sixteen million viewers. People   don't   watch   television   when   its   awful,   really   awful,   in   that   number   of   viewers.   People   don't   go   out   and   vote   for   the show   and   its   cast   in   award   shows   year   after   year   -   some   of   which   they   win,   if   they're   laughing   at   it. There   is   no   such   thing   as television   which   is   so   bad   that   it   becomes   must-see.   One   of   the   most   recent   shows   where   people   did   watch   to   laugh   at   it, rather   than   with   it,   was   ITV's   'That   Antony   Cotton   Show'   which   flopped   in   dramatic   style   -   by   being,   in   the   end,   beaten   by Children's BBC on BBC One. People   watched   to   see   how   horrendous   it   was   over   the   first   week,   which   gained   reasonable   ratings.   There   after   for   the   rest of the shows run the ratings dived, not slowly, but large drops week on week. Furthermore   people   would   not   invest   in   up   to   £40   a   month   on   DVDs   of   Crossroads   to   simply   laugh   at   it.   They   are   buying   the DVDs   because   they   love   the   characters   and   enjoy   the   serious   or   amusing   and,   yes,   sometimes-ridiculous   storylines   that   the   soap   covers. Tina   Baker   hasn't   a clue   what   she's   talking   about,   and   I   doubt   ever   did.   She   is   just   one   of   the   many   critics   with   'handed   down'   views   of   the   show.   I'm   sure   if   she   was   asked   for direct memories she'd be unable to bring up any personal memories of Crossroads that would match her statements. Most   media   outlets   comment   as   fact   the   distorted   version   of   the   soap   that   the   likes   of   Mike   Yarwood,   Janet   Brown,   Jasper   Carrott   and   Little   and   Large devised   -   based   on   those   original   views   of   critics   in   1964   about   a   show,   which   by   1965,   had   address   most   of   those   issues   originally   mocked   by   the   reviewers who didn't like the US-soap format being produced in Britain. We   should   probably   note   that   from   time   to   time   -   like   many   ‘soap   operas’   Crossroads   did   introduce   baffling   and   strange   storylines   that   had   viewers   more bemused than laughing at it, but that’s the nature of the fast turnaround storytelling format. Critics didn't like it because it was too much like the 'American' soap operas? When   Independent   Television   launched   it   was   knocked   for   being   'too American'.   Views   held   by   the   BBC   and   many   MP's   of   the   time.   They   frowned   upon   ITV as   being   too   vulgar   and   commercial.   Crossroads   being   based,   all   be   it   faster-paced,   on   the   hour-long   daily   daytime   American   soap   operas   didn't   sit   well with the ITA regulator nor the critics. Middle class soaps have also always been frowned upon. The   setting   of   Crossroads   was   also   a   USA   creation   -   a   motel.   Coronation   Street   may   have   escaped   the   snipes   for   wobbly   walls   and   fluffed   lines   because   it was at least a grotty British back street. Crossroads and Blue Peter - I was told there was a link between the two shows? There   are   two   links   between   Crossroads   and   Blue   Peter.   First   off, Anita   West   was   a   Blue   Peter   presenter   in   1962.   She   later   starred   in   Crossroads   as   Dr   Hilary Maddox in the 1970s. Secondly,   Noele   Gordon's   mother,   Jockey,   used   to   enjoy   making   bog-standard   trays   a   bit   more   exciting   to   look   at.   This involved   covering   the   tray   in   foreign   stamps   -   and   the   covering   them   with   glue.   Apparently   one   such   tray   appeared   in Crossroads,   however   it   wasn't   until   the   TV   Times   ran   an   article   on   Noele   and   her   mother,   who   discussed   her   hobby   that something odd started happening. The   ATV   mail   room   were   flooded   for   weeks   with   mail   full   of   old   stamps,   all   for   Jockey   to   use   on   her   trays.   After   a   few weeks,   ATV   had   to   announce   on   their   local   news   that   Jockey   had   enough   stamps   and   no   more   were   required.   They   had received   so   many,   that   ATV   donated   sack   loads   to   the   BBC   Blue   Peter   stamp   appeal,   which   ran   yearly   to   raise   money   for charity. Did Crossroads ever do a 'who dunnit' or 'Murder Mystery' type plot which has become more popular on recent soaps? In   1974   Noele   Gordon   talked   a   little   of   how   the   ITA   were   terrible   at   spoiling   plots. They   had   in   1970   made   the   show   drop   the   witchcraft   and   ghost   haunting plot   early   -   as   they,   as   the   television   regulator,   -   thought   those   plots   were   too   scary   for   teatime   viewing.   The   Independent   Television   Authority   also scuppered a murder mystery as Noele Gordon explains: "We   had   a   mystery   involving   a   sudden   death   going   at   the   time. A   touch   of   the Agatha   Christie.   Perhaps   you   wouldn't   expect   this   kind   of   mystery   in   a show such as ours but those of you who are regular viewers will know how varied our plots have become over the years. We   originally   wanted   to   do   a   murder   mystery   but   as   Crossroads   is   for   family   viewing,   the   Independent   Television Authority   stepped   in   and   told   us   we couldn't   show   a   murder   at   a   time   when   young   children   might   be   watching.   They   did   however   approve   an   accidental   death   -   as   long   as   no   body   was seen on screen! It took some ingenuity to over come their ban and this is how we did it: Our   plot   was   centred   around   a   mysterious   stranger   who   booked   into   the   motel,   wearing   a   gold   ring   in   the   shape   of   a   skull.   At   his   check-in   the   ring was   seen   in   close   up,   and   when   the   death   had   taken   place,   instead   of   showing   the   dead   mans   body,   it   was   sufficient   to   show   only   the   hand   with   the ring on again." There were lots of accidental murders however, right from the 1960s into the 80s. Did Crossroads have hardly any 'outside' scenes before 1985? All   soaps   in   the   early   years   used   in-studio   sets   as   the   'outside'   of   buildings,   Coronation   Street   certainly   did   -   simply   view   the Martha   Longhurst   death   episode   to   see   the   outside   of   the   Rovers   Return   Inn   is   cleary   studio   based,   its   just   the   way   things were   in   all   television   dramas   back   then.   And   frankly,   even   in   Corrie   through   to   the   late   1980s   (Fairclough’s   Builders   Yard, seen with Alan Bradley as the occupant, is still using an studio set for its outdoor yard in 1988). Crossroads   was   the   first   ‘serial’   to   start   regularly   using   Outside   Broadcast   units   to   record   location   scenes   rather   than   film cameras   from   its   launch   1964.   The   programme   did,   when   OB   video   recording   wasn't   available   or   impractical,   use   film cameras across its run. But   it   is   untrue   to   say   that   Crossroads   had   less   outside   filming   than   other   soaps   in   as   much   that   Coronation   Street   had   a back   lot,   Crossroads   didn't;   so   yes   it   wasn't   outside   as   much   for   the   local   buildings   in   the   soap   (those   remained   in-studio   or   still   image   shots)   -   but   it   did have around the same location recording as any other soap for special events or scenes in the village. It   should   be   noted   that   all   shows,   sometimes   for   ease,   just   used   their   internal   ‘outdoor’   set   areas   rather   than   going   out   onto   location   to   save   time,   and money.   Again   in   Coronation   Street   as   late   as   1988   scenes   on   ‘the   doorstep’   of   the   Corrie   houses   are   actually   done   in   the   studio   rather   than   out   on   the backlot from time to time. Crossroads   were   using   OB   trucks   in   1965   with   lots   of   outdoor   sequences   recorded   over   a   week,   which   would   be   inserted   across   several   weeks   in   the   show. Many hours of inserts from the 1960s and 70s survive on film showing the ATV series often ventured onto location. Was the supposed location filming in Tunisia really just a mocked up set in Birmingham? All   the   outside   shots   of   Tunisia   were   really   filmed   in   that   location,   as   noted   above   many   of   the   1960s   film   inserts   for   Crossroads   survive,   and   the   scenes recorded   in   North   Africa   survives,   as   do   the   scenes   recorded   in   France   (1965),   Spain   (1966)   and   later   in   the   1980s   Italy.   The   inside   sets   for   the   Tunisia locations   were   all   done   in   the   Alpha   Studios,   Birmingham.   Jane   Rossington   recalled   how   she   was   a   bit   annoyed   with   the   fact   all   the   other   leading   Motel stars   had   gone   off   on   the   location   filming,   and   she   was   left   behind   due   to   the   storyline   having   Jill   overseeing   the   rebuilding   work   of   the   damaged Crossroads Motel after it was damaged in a bomb blast. Did Shughie McFee really disappear from screens for several years? In   1980   Shughie   suffered   a   breakdown.   Doing   terrible   things   at   the   motel,   including   smashing   up   the   kitchen.   With   such goings on, Shughie's mother had to pop down to Kings Oak to sort her son out. It didn't really work! His   mothers   last   words   to   him   at   the   train   station   were   "Oh   and   Shughie   dear,   make   sure   I'm   cremated   and   not   buried,   I absolutely dread the thought of spiders creeping all over me." This   lead   to   the   famous   scene   of   the   spiders   in   the   trifle.   (which   Shughie   put   there   himself.)   This   was   Shughie's   last   major storyline. In 1981 the kitchen set was discontinued as the producers decided that they no longer required kitchen scenes. However   even   Shughie's   departure   story   wasn't   quite   the   full-length   feature   it   was   supposed   to   be.   The   story   was   not   fully   completed   due   to   the   writer   of it pulling out midway after falling out with director Kenneth Carter. So Shughie never did leave the motel.. Between   1982   and   1985   although   the   set   had   gone   -   and   the   actor   too   -   Shughie   was   still   spoken   of   from   time   to   time,   still   working   away   in   the   motel kitchen,   just   never   seen.   Shughie   left   the   motel   in   1985   -   and   a   new   chef   -   Andrew   -   arrived.   He   however   was   seen,   along   with   his   assistant,   Paul.   The kitchen set however never returned. Angus Lennie last appeared as Shughie for Crossroads in November 1985 in the special 21st anniversary programme. Were the "video tapes" as seen on the Crossroads documentary "30 Years On" faked? The   quads   (professional   television   tapes)   were   fake.   The   documentary   production   crew   had   problems   in   locating   a   large   number   of   tapes   to   film   -   so   they mocked   up   the   labels.   If   you   look   closely,   you   can   see   the   "ATV"   covers   for   the   tapes   are   far   cleaner   than   the   actual   quads.   Two   ITV   employees   have confirmed the documentary team faked it for artistic licence. Tanworth-in-Arden became Kings Oak in 1980? The   Crossroads   Years   book   by   Jane   Rossington   says   this   is   so,   however   photographs   from   the   1970s   prove   Tanworth   was   being   used   long   before   1980.   It appears   the   documentation   of   location   filming   by ATV   had   been   lost   some   years   earlier,   and   possibly   Jane   guessed   1980,   either   that   or   it   was   a   typing   error and should have said 1970. (Which is the correct year.) The   village   can   be   seen   in   the   Christmas   1975   and   1978   episodes   on   the   Network   DVD   releases. The   original   Crossroads   recording   location   was   the   village   of Baschurch   in   Shropshire,   why   ATV   abandoned   this   village   isn't   noted   however   Tanworth   In   Arden   is   nearer   to   the   ATV   studios   than   the   original   village location, which may have been one of the reasons for changing the village setting. Did David Hunter really suffer a gambling addiction for only one week? No,   we   don't   know   where   this   myth   came   from.   But   having   checked   the   TV   Times   for   the   ATV   region   we   can   report   that details   of   David's   addiction   run   for   over   a   month.   The   story   also   didn't   just   vanish   there   was   a   proper   ending   to   it   too, despite   what   others   may   say. Around   six   weeks   worth   of   Crossroads   features   David's   flirting   with   gambling. The   story   also   re- surfaced   from   time   to   time   -   including   in   part   of   a   1982   storyline   and   it   was   featured   as   part   of   David's   last   story   in   1985.   So it was quite a 'slow burner' of a recurring problem for David. Lew Grade paid the ATV staff with cash? According   to   a   couple   of   ex-ATV   staff   Lord   Lew   Grade   would   arrive   once   a   month   at   the ATV Alpha   studios   during   its   early   days   and   pay   the   staff   with   cash. This practice had long stopped by the time ATV Centre opened in 1969. The cast of Crossroads performed an opera? Yes in the late 1960s, although sadly the recording hasn't lasted the test of time, it was also never broadcast - Noele Gordon explains more: "The   Design   Department   had   been   asked   to   provide   a   flat   for   the   characters   of   Brian   and   Janice   Jarvis,   and   the   details   of   the   flat   had   been   left   to the designers. The couple were just starting their married life, so all that was really required was a rather small apartment. However   the   scenic   people   came   up   with   a   very   splendid   set,   bay   windows,   Gothic   arches   -   and   that   sort   of   thing.   The   outside   sequences   of   their apartment   had   been   shot   at   the   Cháteau   Impney   Hotel   in   Droitwich.   In   the   interests   of   accuracy,   our   design   department   had   produced   a   set   which had the inside with the same lavish architecture. 'It looks like a grand opera' one of the crew giggled. And this all gave us an idea. We   all   went   along   to   the   wardrobe   department   and   got   ourselves   fitted   out   in   medieval   costumes   -   just   the   kind   of   outfit   you'd   expect   to   see   on   the stage of Covent Garden or La Scala during a grand opera season." An   instrumental   recording   of   March   Of   The   Toreadors   was   found,   and   then   when   the   moment   'Crossroads'   came   to   record   the   cast   all   marched   into the Jarvis' set performing the grand opera. Noele comments, "It really was very funny, and quite a shock for Reg Watson looking down on us from the control room." In the 2003 episodes of Crossroads, the newspapers boasted that the new uniforms were all 'designer labels' is this true? No.   We   took   a   close   look   at   Tracey   Booth's   bar   uniform   -   it   came   from   Marks   And   Spencer.   That   isn't   what   we'd   call   a   designer   label,   although   2003   series producer, Yvon Grace may do. Did Benny vanish for a year looking for a spanner? According   to   Paul   Henry,   who   played   Benny   -   no.   He   made   the   story   up   as   a   joke,   however   it   has   now   gone   into   folk   law   as fact.   Benny   did   often   'leave'   the   village   from   time   to   time   -   however   most   times   an   explanation   was   given.   He   would   travel on   the   road   a   lot,   for   example.   Benny's   final   appearance   was   a   little   unexpected. The   Christmas   1987   episode   saw   Benny   go up the ladder to put the fairy on top of the Christmas tree - he never came down! Was there a fire in the mid-1960s that destroyed all the early episodes of Crossroads? No.   None   of   the ATV   staff   at Alpha   Television   recall   a   fire.   More   so,   it   would   have   seemingly   been   a   very   selective   fire   if   true   -   as   all   the   1964   Crossroads promotional   footage   is   still   around.   It   seems   to   have   been   made   up   at   one   point   by ATV   possibly   to   cover   up   the   fact   they   wiped   them   all   -   even   the   first episode. Also   it   has   been   said   there   was   a   fire   at   ATV   Centre   in   the   early   1980s.   Again   this   is   not   true.   There   was   a   flood,   but   none   of   the   archive   material   was damaged. What was Jill and Stan's relationship like in the original series? Jill   married   Stan   in   the   early   1970s,   but   the   relationship   was   always   difficult,   with   Stan's   temper   and   Jill's   lack   of   common   sense.   In   1977   the   couple   split up   over   Jill's   affair   with   her   half   brother   -   Anthony   Mortimer.   Although   it   was   Jill's   fault   she   ended   up   hating   Stan   because   he   moved   to   Germany   -   with their daughter, Sarah Jane. Jill never forgave Stan, but she did abide him on her regular visits to Germany. Sarah   Jane   also   often   visited   Kings   Oak   to   see   her   mother.   Sarah   Jane   was   bridesmaid   at   Jill's   1983   wedding   to Adam   Chance.   These   facts   conflict   with   the Carlton series' 'history' of Jill and Stan. Were there two Benny characters in Crossroads? Yes.   Benny   Wilmott   was   played   by   Deke   Arlon   (real-life   husband   of   Jill   Betts   who   played   Carlos'   wife)   was   the   original   Benny,   the   character   ran   the Crossroads   Café   in   the   motel   grounds.   This   original   Benny   left   in   1966,   although   he   didn't   get   written   out   -   one   of   the   many   who   simply   'vanished'   from   the motel.   He   was   last   seen   going   out   to   buy   a   bag   of   sugar   for   Meg   Richardson   (Noele   Gordon)   in   the   plot.   Deke   did   return   as   Benny,   however   only   for   one episode   which   was   a   special   'tongue   in   cheek'   edition   celebrating   1500   episodes   in   1971.   He   returned   to   the   kitchen   -   with   the   sugar!   While   none   of   his episodes survive, a 1960s insert shows him in character with Sue Nicholls flying a light aircraft. The   second   Benny   of   course   was   the   "famous"   one   everyone   knows   -   Benny   Hawkins,   played   by   Paul   Henry   between   1975 and 1987. Were scenes of Meg really filmed in 1985 or is that just a myth? The   then   producer,   Phillip   Bowman,   talked   a   little   about   Noele   Gordon's   return   just   after   her   death.   We   know   she   had   met with   Phillip   in   November   1984   to   discuss   her   regular   returns   to   the   programme.   She   was   given   a   three   month   contract, which   she   signed.   This   would   see   her   filming   on   the   sets   from   January   to   March   of   1985.   Noele   attended   the   Crossroads Christmas   party   of   1984,   and   former   Producer   Jack   Barton's   leaving   party   in   the   same   month.   In   1984,   she   spoke   to   TV-am about her return, and seemed excited that Meg was finally coming home. She   had,   by   all   accounts,   been   welcomed   back   into   the   "Crossroads   family"   and   Phillip   Bowman   was   pleased   to   have   her   on   board.   Sadly,   after   what   seemed like   a   grand   recovery   in   December/January,   Noele   relapsed,   and   died   in   the April. The   scripts   were   written,   the   storyline   was   in   place. The   Mirror   reported due   to   her   ill-health   any   scenes   had   to   be   dropped,   and   sadly   she   died   before   any   were   recorded.   The   Sun   (headline   right)   noted   after   her   death   she   was due to return to the show with the character eventually ‘moving back to Kings Oak’. How much did an episode of Crossroads cost to make? When   Crossroads   started ATV   allocated   £700   to   it   -   per   episode.   By   1974,   Crossroads   per   episode   cost   £1,200.   In   1974   Coronation   Street   was   provided   with £3,000   per   edition.   Cast   on   Coronation   Street   were   paid   up   to   as   much   as   £400   per   week,   Crossroads   cast   were   lucky   if   they   were   earning   more   than   £160 per week. Between   1964   and   1968   Noele   Gordon   was   paid   £30   per   episode.   Which   is   very   little   when   you   think   that   the   cast   of   Emergency   Ward Ten   at   the   same   time were on £80 per episode. Did Crossroads offend Birmingham City Council? Yes,   back   in   the   days   when   the   City   Council   failed   to   note   that   Crossroads   was   set   in   Kings   Oak   -   a   fictional   village   -   rather   than   Birmingham   some   council members got offended by various plots. The   most   documented   one   was   from   the   early   1970s.   In   one   episode   a   councillor   was   seen   asking   a   couple   for   a   bribe   in   return   for   helping   them   get   a council   house   quicker.   Crossroads   aimed   to   reflect   real   life,   but   this   real   life   issue   -   which   had   actually   happened   only   not   in   the   Midlands   -   must   have   been a   bit   too   close   for   comfort   for   the   Birmingham   Councillors,   including   Alderman   Harry   Watton   who   called   Crossroads   'pig   swill   entertainment'   at   a   council meeting. Another   member,   Geoffrey   Austin   told   the   meeting   that   Crossroads   was   widely   accepted   that   most   people   knew   Crossroads   was   based   in   the   City   of Birmingham. ATV   pointed   out   that   Crossroads   was   not   set   in   Birmingham   City   -   but   ten   miles   south   of   the   city   in   a   fictional   village.   It   didn't   stop   Mr Austin continuing; "The   suggestion   that   a   councillor   would   ask   for   money   under   these   circumstances   was   an   imputation   against   the   chairman,   members   and   officers   of the Birmingham Public Works Committee." Crossroads with the same episode also offended the Mayor of Birmingham, Alderman George Barrow who said he "deplored the episode." The   people   of   Birmingham   were   not   so   offended,   one   tax   payer,   Nora   Hinks,   asked   if   the   council   in   addition   to   its   other   duties   would   now   be   also   vetting ATV's programme content! It   should   be   noted   that   for   the   most   part   however   ATV   and   the   council   along   with   the   programme   co-operated   happily,   with   the   programme   involved   in many publicity drives for the city as well as attending special events held by the council. When   Amy   Turtle   returned   in   1987   was   her   role   restricted   to   occasional   'cameo's'   due   to   the   ill   health   of   actress   Ann George? Her   role   was   always   intended   to   be   an   occasional   character.   She   was   simply   the   housekeeper   for   the   Lancaster   family, which   meant   she   wasn't   often   seen   in   the   programme;   only   when   required.   Her   ill   health   however   later   brought   those appearances to a close. The   suggestion   by   the   press   that   she   couldn't   record   often   'in   studio'   due   to   being   too   overweight,   was   rubbish,   the   society has   visited ATV   Centre   -   and   the   studios   had   lifts!   Which   she   did   use   to   reach   the   studios   when   filming   demanded   it. The   fact   was   she   was   ill,   and   the   stress of working in studio full time was too much for Ann. She was returned as a cameo, often seen casually out in the village. As a side note, when Ann George walked back onto the Crossroads set after over ten years away, the entire cast and crew cheered her. Is it true the BBC made nine episodes of Crossroads? Well,   not   exactly.   They   did   make   nine   short   editions,   however   they   were   just   for   BBC2's   ATV   Night   slot   in   1994.   The   Crossroads   Motel   was   the   setting   for the   continuity   links   between   the   ATV   programmes.   These   special   episodes   which   did   include   some   Crossroads-style   drama   starred   Jane   Rossington,   Angus Lennie and Tony Adams. Noele Gordon Sings was recorded in 1967, not 1976! This   is   a   typo   by   the   record   company   on   the   sleeve,   it   was   very   much   recorded   in   1976   as   the   EMI   Abbey   Road   studios’   history   archive   note.   CAS   leader Peter   Kingsman   was   also   at   the   recording   having   been   invited   by   Noele,   who   he’d   first   met   a   year   earlier.   The   album   was   produced   at   Abbey   Road   with Geoff Love’s orchestra as backing. More on Crossroads songs here . Former   ITV   boss   David   Liddiment   skipped   over   Crossroads   quickly   in   his   documentary   about   soaps,   he   placed   things   that   happened   first   in   the Midland motel firmly at the door of other shows, a total research disaster or deliberate attempt to re-write history? In   his   dubious   'soap   history'   show,   what   brief   coverage   of   Crossroads   we   got   we   found   him   comparing   Brookside   to   Crossroads,   which   is   really   like   comparing BBC   daytime   daily   soap   Doctors   with   once   a   week   lavish   drama   Downton   Abbey.   Both   very   different   productions.   It   is   quite   funny   how   executives   pigeon hole   all   serials   in   ‘one   box’.   It   seems   they   just   don’t   get   there   are   many   different   types   of   saga,   just   as   there   are   varying   kinds   of   drama.   I’m   not   sure   you could compare a high tech spy thriller to a slow paced period drama, but maybe Liddiment could try for a witty documentary… Noele   Gordon   explains   perfectly   why   Crossroads   could   never   be   like   Brookside,   and   nor   did   they   want   it   to   be:   "When   Crossroads   started   we   were often   knocked   for   being   full   of   cardboard   situations   and   plots.   But   the   truth   is,   back   in   the   1960s   this   is   what   the   viewers   wanted.   They   wanted escapisms, they didn't expect anything more of television other than plastic plots having little or nothing to do with present day life. But   viewers   tastes   changed,   and   stories   have   to   become   more   adult.   So   Crossroads   changed   with   the   tastes.   Viewers   today   expect   realistic   situations and   the   plots   in   Crossroads   have   dealt   more   and   more   with   contemporary   life.   But   at   the   same   time   we   are   very   conscious   that   what   is   seen   and accepted   in   a   family   living-room   is   very   different   to   what   you   would   be   prepared   to   accept   in   a   film   or   in   a   soap   airing   later   at   night.   So   while Crossroads   does   handle   taboo   and   socially   aware   subjects   there   is   always   a   knowledge   that   such   situations   and   dialougue   must   be   presented   in   a   way that will always be acceptable to family audiences." Also   Brookside   had   the   good   fortune   of   not   only   airing   later   at   night,   it   also   didn't   have   the TV   regulator   watching   its   every   plot   -   due   to   it   not   airing   on   ITV or   at   teatime.   It   is   a   noted   fact   the   regulator   shunted   a   programme   made   for   ITV   to   Channel   4   as   it   was   deemed   unacceptable   on   the   mainstream   network, but fine to air on the other. ATV made sure Crossroads was tame visually, because of the young audience. Director Michael Hart sums up perfectly how the motel soap worked: "I   think   it   is   [popular]   because   it   portrays   life   as   people   like   it   to   be.   It   is   escapist   enough   for   that.   It   doesn't   offend.   It   doesn't   over   stimulate. And it   does   go   along   in   a   way   that   people   can   recognise   and   accept   what   is   happening   without   making   them   think   terribly   hard.   In   short,   it   appeals   to   a large section of the tea-time viewing public." Mr   Liddlement,   we   notice,   didn't   comment   on   any   of   his   numerous   failed   soaps;   none   of   which   have   come   anywhere   near   to   running   24   years.   I   doubt   it was a deliberate attempt, just terrible research by the factual department at the production. Sandy Richardson was a token wheelchair character? According   to   the   BBC   Two   show   'TV   and   Disability,   Are   you   having   a   Laugh?'   then   apparently   so.   Interesting   to   note   it   was made by the same people as the David Liddlement misleading series from a few years earlier. Apparently   because   Sandy   was   a   motel   manager,   who   was   treated   'as   normal'   by   everyone.   That   makes   him   cardboard   and token. They   state   all   he   did   was   wheel   himself   around   the   motel   in   a   token   fashion.   Utter   rubbish.   He   had   romances,   he   had arguments,   he   did   charity   work   and   yes   at   times   issues   about   being   in   a   wheelchair   came   to   light.   He   was   an   all   round decent wheelchair based character. The   BBC   Two   show   just   wanted   to   run   a   myth   that   TV   was   terrible   to   wheelchair   uses   up   until   the   1990s;   so   ignored   all   the positive   portrayals   prior   to   that   point.   It   was   misleading,   and   worse   it   excluded   the   fact   TV   has   lead   to   one   of   the   greatest things   for   the   families   of   wheelchair   users   -   the   Crossroads   Caring   for   Carers   charity   which   assists   families   in   caring   for disabled   people.   One   talking   head   said   she   couldn’t   identify   with   Sandy.   Well   as   she   was   a   teenage   girl   at   the   time,   I   doubt   she   would   identify   with   a   late 20s manager of a hospitality establishment. But just because he was in a wheelchair she was supposed to be able to identify with him? We   weren’t   the   only   ones   noting   its   flaws.   The   Points   Of   View   message   board   was   inundated,   and   even   for   once   TV   critics   noted   the   show   was   unfair toward our Sandy. Was Amy Turtle really accused of being a Russian Spy? Oh   how   the   nation   laughed   -   not   at   the   time   -   but   years   later   when   some   newspapers   decided   to   make   it   into   something   it   wasn't,   and   then   30   years   later   a real   old   lady   was   discovered   to   have   been   a   Russian   spy.   Not   so   out   of   place   after   all   then!   But   yes, Amy   was   accused   of   being   a   spy   for   Russia   within   the programme. It was of course just a case of mistaken identity: A   sinister   looking   guest   from   Eastern   Europe   checked   into   the   Crossroads   Motel   in   1973   and   was   sure   he   recognised   our Amy.   He   was   positive   that   she   was   in fact a former KGB spy with a real name of Amelia Turtlovska. The story was a light-hearted sub-plot. The   legend   of   this   story   seemed   to   imply   that   the   authorities   swooped   on   Crossroads   and   trooped   off Amy   to   the   spy   interrogation   centre.   That   of   course, didn't happen. And the guest went away simply leaving Amy slightly miffed. Was the painting of the vase of flowers in Meg's sitting room famous? The   original   painting   was   created   by   artist   E.   Van   Guelt.   There   are   no   further   details   on   the   artist   or   the   painting.   The original   was   sold   off   by   Central   in   1988,   however   in   1976   ATV   and   the   Woman's   Weekly   magazine   joined   forces   to   offer   a limited   edition   replica   of   it.   The   poster   version   sold   for   98p,   or   just   over   £2   for   three   copies   and   a   signed   photo   card   of Noele Gordon. Did David Lawton die in 1979? For   many   years   it   was   unclear   if   the   actor   and   writer   had   passed   away   in   the   late   1970s.   However   a   friend   of   the   actor informed   the   CAS   Facebook    page   in   late   2017   that   David   was   very   much   alive.   In   fact   the   retired   performer   had   been involved   with   local   dramatics   for   decades,   had   celebrated   his   50th   wedding   anniversary   to   wife   Rebecca   earlier   in   the   year and   would   be   turning   95   in   2018. A   photograph   of   David   and   his   wife   from   their   wedding   anniversary   was   also   shared.   Where his death myth came from no one really knows. Was there a musical version of Crossroads? Not   as   such.   In   1980   The   Variety   Club   of   Great   Britain   hosted   a   celebration   of   Crossroads   at   a   Birmingham   venue.   It   was   presented   by   comedian   Bob Monkhouse, who had appeared in Crossroads in the 1960s. Attendees   included   Noele   Gordon,   Tony   Adams,   Susan   Hanson,   Paul   Henry,   Pamela   Vazey,   Peter   Hill,   Lynette   McMorrough,   Ronald   Allen,   Sue   Lloyd,   Ian Liston, Janet Hargreaves, Roger Tonge and Jane Rossington. Sandy was supposed to walk again but a viewer called in and said he couldn't with those injuries. Not   a   lot   can   be   said   on   this,   we   have   covered   Crossroads   Care   and   Sandy’s   story   in   great   detail   elsewhere ,   but   we   will   respond   with   producer   Reg   Watson’s comment at the time. It is likely storyliners discussed Sandy being able to walk again, but as Reg said - it was never going to happen: “Everything   is   carefully   researched   to   make   sure   we   have   no   inaccurate   impressions   given.   For   example   when   Sandy   had   the   accident   we   argued   for a   long   time   about   whether   he   would   really   have   let   someone   who   was   obviously   drunk   take   over   the   driving.   We   were   talking   to   one   of   the   surgeons at   Stoke   Mandeville   Hospital,   which   were   our   source   of   information   for   the   spinal   injuries,   and   he   said   'The   same   thing   happened   to   me,   only   luckily we did not have a crash. We   had   to   take   the   whole   storyline   very   seriously   we   also   had   advice   from ATV's   own   Dr.   Richard   Hudson-Evans   and   the   Robert   Jones And Agnes   Hunt Orthopaedic   Hospital.   We   had   to   make   sure   that   the   actor,   Roger   Tonge,   realised   it   would   mean   sitting   in   a   wheel-chair   for   the   rest   of   his   time   in Crossroads.   Yes   it   would   have   been   wonderfully   dramatic   if   suddenly   he   could   stand   up   and   walk,   but   we   knew   from   the   start   medically   that   just cannot   happen,   so   it   will   not   happen.   Crossroads   is   about   people,   real   every   day   people,   so   it   has   to   be   real   we   cannot   cheat.”   -   Reg   Watson,   June 1973
Research by Douglas Lambert, Peter Kingsman, Mike Garrett and Ian Armitage. Top montage: Headlines from The Sun and The Mirror on Noele Gordon’s 1985 Crossroads comeback - that sadly never was to be. Text: Copyright Crossroads Fan Club 2018.