Graham McGrath has been in many popular television programmes over the years; from Cadfael to Doctors and even EastEnders.
As a youngster, he first hit the television screens in 1981 starring as ‘Young Pip’ in the BBC mini-series version of Great Expectations. It wasn’t until 2003 however that he checked into Crossroads as Jimmy Samson.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got the role as Jimmy Samson in Crossroads 2003?
My first casting for Crossroads was for the part of Ryan; then a few weeks later I was called up to cast for Jimmy. I was told I had the part the same day and within a week I was in Nottingham filming the first episodes.
Did you enjoy your time on Crossroads?
I enjoyed working on Crossroads very much. It was fairly intensive, but I love being an actor and it’s not very often you have the chance to get up every day and do what you enjoy the most.
What stunt work was involved on the night your character nearly took his life on the bridge?
I really enjoyed getting involved in the stunt work during the scenes when Jimmy was pondering suicide at the bridge. A stunt double was available, but I ended up doing all the work myself.
It was a bit scary the first time I “jumped” because, despite having a harness to break my fall a couple of feet down, it goes against your instincts to leap off a bridge at night into a cold, swirling river below.
What no-one realises is that one of the camera crew was also dangling precariously on a girder on top of the bridge in order to get one particular shot – it wasn’t just me doing all the dangerous work.
Who within the cast did you get on well with and are you still in contact with anyone?
I can’t think of anyone I didn’t get on with within the cast. We worked hard together and had some good times. I’m still in contact with Luke (Roberts) who played my brother Ryan; Freema (Aygeman) who I’m delighted to see in the new series of Doctor Who – she’s such a lovely girl – and Shauna (Shim) too; I wouldn’t say I’m in contact with many but occasionally hear from quite a few of the company, and some crew, too.
This industry really is a small world and you always end up meeting or working with the same people again before too long.
Did the 2001 cast and 2003 cast mix well together?
The cast members who had worked on the previous version of Crossroads were great and really helpful. I was never aware of any distinction between 2001/2003 casts – we were all there together to get the job done.
What was it like to be within the family that run the hotel and central to the storylines?
It was exciting to be a member of the Samson family that was central to Crossroads. I really cannot reiterate enough how much I love to be working as an actor so it was fabulous to be “in the thick of it”.
What was your favourite storyline from your time at Crossroads?
Mmmm, difficult one… I enjoyed the stuff that went on between Jimmy and Belle. It was great to work with Jessica Fox on those storylines.
What was the general feeling when the axe fell and the show was cancelled?
The general feeling when the show was axed was of great disappointment. It wasn’t just the Crossroads cast and crew that would lose their jobs – the future of Lenton Lane studios and all those who worked there in Nottingham depended on the show, too.
It was an inevitable economical decision that came about because of the changing structure of Carlton and Granada as a company, and anyone with a business perspective can see that.
However, there was something special about Crossroads and nothing can take away the sadness felt as a result of its demise.
What did you think about the “dream” ending and how did it feel for Jimmy to become to “cool” character compared to Ryan?
The “dream ending” was a hilarious way to end the shooting – everything turned on its head! It would have been impossible to conclude the various storylines and plots so abruptly – everything was in mid-flow – so I guess it was one way for Yvon Grace to wrap everything up appropriately, perhaps with a little tongue in cheek.
And finally what are you up to at the moment?
I’m busy with lots of small projects and working hard to win the next big one!
Interview conducted by Tom Dearnley-Davidson, 2004