Jeremy Nicholas joined Crossroads as it transitioned into Kings Oak. He became one of the more popular characters from the final era of the serial as John Maddingham the landlord of The Stag.
How did you first get the role of John Maddingham?
I was first offered a role in Crossroads in 1986 – Lord Someone-or-other, which I turned down. Then they came back the following year to offer me John Maddingham, as a kind of romantic interest for Jill and silver-haired replacement for Ronald Allen who had recently left the cast. There was no audition – just a more interesting character and a much better offer on the board!
Did you watch the programme before you got the part?
Not particularly. I never watch soaps on a regular basis. I only watched Crossroads if I knew a mate was going to be on.
Were you aware of the changes that were going to take place on the show, such as the switch to Crossroads, Kings Oak and the changing theme tune?
Not in any detail. I knew there had been big cast changes, a bit of a make-over, and was told how my character was expected to fit into the new look. I had no idea what the storylines had been or were to be, and before I accepted the job I watched it every night. I did think the standard of acting and the scripts had improved a great deal.
But apart from wanting to experience working on a soap, I approached it as just another acting job, and an opportunity to work with some good actors.
Can you tell us a bit about William Smethurst?
Yes. That’s all I can tell you about him – a bit. He was always perfectly affable and considerate towards me, but we were never going to be bosom buddies. I often wondered what he was doing in show business. He had no apparent empathy with actors or the acting process, but he certainly left his mark on the show.
What did you think about many of the old characters being axed?
If I thought about it at all, I was sorry to see fellow actors put out of work. Some of the characters were way past their sell-by date. Other axings I was quite surprised about. But I had (still have) no sentimental attachment to Crossroads. Series have to move on, develop, move with the times or they become unbelievable and irrelevant. Actors have to accept the precarious nature of the business and the sometimes-incomprehensible whims of producers.
What did you think when they told you that the show was going to end with John running off with Jill?
I was a) chuffed that Jill had decided to go off with me, b) surprised that the writers had decided on that finale, c) delighted that that rotter Adam Chance wasn’t going to have a second helping and d) amused that I would be involved in what would probably be a memorable television moment.
How well did you get on with your screen family, wife Eve (Valerie Holliman) and son Jamie (Christopher Duffy)?
I adored them both – and I hope they liked me too. Working with people like Val and Chris makes the most of the high points and helps you cope with the lows. Funnily enough, Chris and I developed very much a father-and-son relationship off-screen. Duffy is an extremely clever guy, very talented and with a disgusting sense of humour. So we got on like a house on fire!
John had been killed off by the time the show returned. Did you see any of the new series of Crossroads?
I did. The first episode, and one other when a good friend of mine made his debut.
What did you think of the new series? Were you surprised that it was axed?
The two episodes I caught were a hoot. All the money had gone on the sets, none on the scripts. Television by committee never works – it needs to be a single person’s vision – so, no, I wasn’t the least surprised when it was axed.
Would you have gone back to Crossroads if they had asked you?
It would have been nice to have been asked – it could have been an interesting storyline – and I probably would have gone back if the money had been right, but if the first episode was anything to go by, I was very glad I wasn’t approached.
Do you still keep in touch with any of the Crossroads cast?
Sadly, no. Our paths haven’t crossed and I’ve even lost touch with Duffy.
Do you find that people still recognise you?
No thank God. But by a strange coincidence, having had nothing to do with Crossroads for years, within two days of receiving this questionnaire, two different people asked me if I was the pub landlord from Crossroads. Weird.
What is the highlight of your time at Central Television in Birmingham?
Nipping off every Wednesday lunchtime (in makeup and costume sometimes) for the weekly organ recital in Birmingham Town Hall.
Interview conducted by Tom Dearnley-Davidson for Crossroads Fan Club, 2004