Crossroads - 50 years on

What's not currently on the box
SgtPepper
625 lines
Posts: 300
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:37 pm

Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by SgtPepper »

My late mother and aunt would never miss an episode in the 60's and 70's so it was often on when I was in the house. I became very familiar with Meg Richardson, Amy Turtle, Diane Lawton, Vince Parker etc, but I can't recall any storylines. My lasting memory of it is actually more recent. When it was on in 2001 it clashed with something else my mother watched (probably Neighbours or Home & Away) so she recorded it. One episode was interrupted with the attack on the Twin Towers. I know I took the tape for posterity, but unfortunately I have no idea what became of it (not a majorly calamitous viewing loss, but it could potentially be interesting to watch again as it unfolded live.)
I bought the first couple of DVD sets that came out but then my mother passed away in 2007, so that was that.

Crossroads 50th Anniversary

thebeekeeper
625 lines
Posts: 454
Joined: Wed May 14, 2014 9:28 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by thebeekeeper »

Cast members reunited for a 2 hour celebration on the Paul O Grady show today 5pm Radio 2

MAldridge
405 lines
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 12:14 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by MAldridge »

SgtPepper wrote:My late mother and aunt would never miss an episode in the 60's and 70's so it was often on when I was in the house. I became very familiar with Meg Richardson, Amy Turtle, Diane Lawton, Vince Parker etc, but I can't recall any storylines. My lasting memory of it is actually more recent. When it was on in 2001 it clashed with something else my mother watched (probably Neighbours or Home & Away) so she recorded it. One episode was interrupted with the attack on the Twin Towers. I know I took the tape for posterity, but unfortunately I have no idea what became of it (not a majorly calamitous viewing loss, but it could potentially be interesting to watch again as it unfolded live.)
Yes, I was watching it too. Later in the day they showed the full episode on ITV2 (as the news came during the commercial break IIRC) so it never got a screening on the main channel.

Left Field
405 lines
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:03 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Left Field »

Crossroads was never watched in our household - not sure why - but I grew up watching Coronation Street. I did pick up the Crossroads DVDs a few years ago initially out of curiosity and must say I've hugely enjoyed them and - dare I say it - I far more enjoy watching it to archive Coronation Street now. Maybe this is because the Crossroads story-lines and characters are less familiar to me and therefore more engaging. Not sure I would admit this Crossroads fascination outside of this Forum - it's the guiltiest of TV guilty pleasures - but perhaps it is rather better than it's give credit for. For me the show's peak years - at least in terms of those surviving on DVD - are from around 1968 to 1975. Lots of interesting issues covered including Sandy's accident, disability and subsequent recovery which perhaps have extra poignancy given that actor Roger Tonge was later to die tragically young of cancer. I felt the show went downhill from the mid-70s with the arrival of the dismal Benny character and the departure of the likes of the very amusing Amy Turtle. Maybe other viewers felt completely otherwise and certainly "Benny" was a very popular character it seems with the general public.

I haven't seen many episodes from the 80s - those released on DVD stop before this point I think. There were attempts to reinvent the show and make it more "middle class" but it seems these just alienated its core audience while failing to win over new viewers. Maybe if Crossroads had stuck to its original style it would have survived longer but I doubt it would have lasted fifty years like Coronation Street. Unfortunately it had gained a negative label it just couldn't shake off.

SgtPepper
625 lines
Posts: 300
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:37 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by SgtPepper »

Left Field wrote: Lots of interesting issues covered including Sandy's accident, disability and subsequent recovery which perhaps have extra poignancy given that actor Roger Tonge was later to die tragically young of cancer.
For some strange reason I vividly recall a conversation in our house at the time about that between my aunt and cousin. The character was in a wheelchair for some reason and it was intended that he would make a full recovery. They had a number of letters from viewers saying that in real life he wouldn't recover the use of his legs so they shouldn't use it in the storyline. As a result they left him in a wheelchair. I recall my aunt saying that she expected they would eventually find an excuse for him to start walking again. But then within a short time the actor needed a wheelchair in real life.

Left Field
405 lines
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:03 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Left Field »

Later episodes did show Sandy going through various treatments and managing a small recovery in his legs where he could stand on crutches but as far as I remember he wasn't able to walk on them and so he moved around in a wheelchair. There are some interesting episodes where he strikes up a friendship with a young woman who has terminal cancer although in the tradition of the programmes of the time she looks in the fullest of health. Again this is somewhat poignant viewed today when we know what later happened to Roger Tonge. Sadly it seems the episodes showing how this story-line transpired are lost but apparently and rather unconvincingly the same actress reappeared following year as her character's twin sister! In fairness Crossroads is not the only show to have suddenly discovered twin brothers and sisters to suit a story-line.

The show covered the issue of abortion very well around the same time as Sheila Harvey deliberated on whether to terminate her pregnancy - again an actual abortion was taboo in soaps of the time and she continued with the pregnancy and had the baby adopted. Her travails as a single pregnant woman in those morally harsher times are an interesting sign of how times have changed. I think the show did cover various issues very well but this tends to be overlooked by the critics, no doubt as they had long written the show off.

Finally thanks for flagging up the anniversary programme on Radio 2 which I managed to catch. Whatever we think about it, Crossroads is a key part of TV history and deserves to be remembered.

thebeekeeper
625 lines
Posts: 454
Joined: Wed May 14, 2014 9:28 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by thebeekeeper »

My mum was a casual Crossroads fan in the 70's . I think the only reason I watched it was because there were often things I wanted to watch after it.
My main memory of the 70's was being able to watch episodes twice 6 months apart.
Anglia had continued to show it but when Thames took over in Summer 1968 they removed it from the schedule along with Peyton Place.
I think it was the Xmas 1968 edition of the TV Times where the London edition had a full page feature on viewer power after Thames caved in and returned both shows to the schedule.

My favourite remembrance is the sequence of episodes where Meg lost her memory. I enjoyed those on Anglia and went out of my way to catch them again on Thames although I don't recall doing it for any others.
I think Crossroads spent most of its original life being screened at different times and on different days in each region . Some showed it 4.30 , some 5.20 .
Anglia spent many years showing it at 6.35 so I always felt very lucky that I could switch to Thames and watch The Saint instead at 6.30 ( then another Saint on Anglia at 8pm during some periods)

John McE
405 lines
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:55 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by John McE »

I used to rush home from school to watch Crossroads - I think it was on at 4.20pm in the London region.

I remember going up to Manchester to university, in the period when London was six months behind, due to it having been taken off in London, when Thames Television took over, and buying a TV times up there just to see what was happening. Reading that Jill Richardson was now Jill Crane was hugely exciting! I also remember trying to watch it on Anglia TV at home, which was barely visible through a forest of analogue picture noise... and trying to convince by father that (a) it wouldn't damage the TV nor (b) ruin my eyesight!

I know Crossroads was never produced to as high a standard as Coronation Street, but Meg was a hugely charismatic character, as were many of the supporting actors, and storylines, while often daft, could also push boundaries far beyond today's standard fare of murders, explosions and endless affairs.

fatcat
D-MAC
Posts: 831
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:02 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by fatcat »

John McE wrote: I know Crossroads was never produced to as high a standard as Coronation Street, but Meg was a hugely charismatic character, as were many of the supporting actors, and storylines, while often daft, could also push boundaries far beyond today's standard fare of murders, explosions and endless affairs.
So true, the plots were often gripping and you only had to watch that little teaser before the ATV caption to know you would be back tomorrow to watch it...without murders and people shouting at each other all the time. The main characters had continuity ie you know you could trust them to be what they were so to speak- not like now where in the case of a recent soap a lesbian has suddenly turned into a man eater without any explanation.
I do miss the Christmas time on TV of those years, Crossroads was especially warm and nice and Meg suddenly breaking out of character to start singing against a piano that just appeared was just part of the wonderful charm.

Left Field
405 lines
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:03 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Left Field »

Clearly as a daily soap - at least in its earliest days - Crossroads was made to a very tight production schedule which made it hard to match the production quality of Coronation Street. However entertainment value doesn't just hinge on production quality but more importantly on story-lines and characters and Crossroads was successful for much of its life on those terms. Those production issues and how well Crossroads engaged with its audience are excellently examined in Dorothy Hobson's book on the show which to my mind is one of the very best books written on television, featuring lots of interviews with production staff, actors and the viewers. The book was written in 1982 just after Noele Gordon's contentious departure from the show and is therefore a fascinating piece of history with various production personnel outlining why they think she had to go and evidence of the strong viewer reaction. Meg was at the centre of the show and whatever the merits of the character it certainly didn't revive after her departure, nor did it after the departure of other high profile actors and characters.

User avatar
Simon36
HD
Posts: 1096
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:43 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

I loved Crossroads as a tot, although I was always immune to the cult of Noele Gordon, who I found scarily orange and worryingly bombastic. I was one of the few people who got keener on the show after she got the boot (for reasons that seem now to be an open secret?)

The star of it for me was Jane Rossington, who I've always had a huge crush on and who, game player that she is, seemed able to soldier on giving her all no matter how unlikely the task.

I rather warmed to it again in the Gabrielle Drake era, and thought Terence Rigby was hysterical, but while it seemed to have got itself together in some areas, in others it looked worse than ever. A new theme tune was a good idea, but the one they chose was so bland and ended on a lousy chord!

Random memory here: Daniel Freeman and his mate rescuing a waitress from a cult, with incidental music as they ascended the darkened staircase. Tremendously naff...

Brian F
D-MAC
Posts: 500
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:09 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Brian F »

Left Field wrote:Clearly as a daily soap - at least in its earliest days - Crossroads was made to a very tight production schedule which made it hard to match the production quality of Coronation Street. However entertainment value doesn't just hinge on production quality but more importantly on story-lines and characters and Crossroads was successful for much of its life on those terms.
Indeed, I thought the IBA (?) ruined it when they wanted it to "improve" by cutting the number of shows and making them do more location shoots. Crossroads wasn't just another soap it was a different show on its own terms then, almost as if it was live. Though I did hear that it was virtually "live to tape" and that things had to go seriously wrong to get a re-shoot of one half of an episode int he early days - I suspect that gave it an extra "edge".

User avatar
Billy Smart
625 lines
Posts: 421
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:13 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Billy Smart »

Here's an interview about the pressures of directing Crossroads that my colleague Leah Panos and myself conducted a few years ago - http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/spaces-of-te ... ap-operas/

TonyCurrie
625 lines
Posts: 147
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:19 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by TonyCurrie »

"Crossroads" was of course initially a local programme in the Midlands, created to satisfy an ITA requirement that ATV made more programmes in Birmingham for the local audience. Slowly, it started to be part-networked, and I vividly recall the first episode to be shown on STV. In order to lead us into it, it began with Larry Marshall (at the time recently deposed from his role as king of lunchtime when the ITA 'persuaded' STV to drop "The One O'Clock Gang", a truly dumb London-centric decision, but that's for another posting sometime.) interviewing Meg about her Motel. Shortly afterwards, Larry joined the cast for a while in a semi-regular role. I was a young teenager, and I loved the show - the characters, the stories, the music and the unique end credits.

Like others, I became rather tired of the series when Meg left and a succession of unattractive characters wehe parachuted in to King's Oak. But by this time I was doing my "Now on STV it's time for 'Crossroads'" bit most afternoons so I had to watch it anyway. The last straw came with the dreadful new titles and music and the total failure on the part of new creative blood to understand what had made the serial popular with its core audience in the first place.

Having watched it throughout my teenage years, I naturally had a variety of crushes. Diane Grayson was the first - she was herself a teenager when she played Meg's niece, Penny. Meg had in fact adopted a young girl - Stephanie Harris - who was very ably played by Wendy Padbury. Wendy had to leave (she got a better offer!) and the character continued but with a different actress, who simply wasn't in the same league as Wendy. So Stevis Harris was written out and a previous unmentioned neice discovered in the form of Penny. Diane was a dancer with plenty of major stage experience, and played her character with ease and conviction. Her signed photo had pride of place on my bedside table for a couple of years. When she left "Crossroads" she popped up for a while in "Coronation Street" before a spell as a fulltime mother before - as she now is - becoming a drama teacher. We had a very nice lunch together a couple of years ago and she turned out to be every bit as nice as I had imagined.

But of course I also had a soft spot for Jane Rossington, who I have in later life worked with a few times, and who is a sheer delight to be with. And both she and Diane made it evident that generally speaking, the cast were much like a family, with their internal ups and downs but always standing together aginst the world. And there was clearly enormous love and affection between Noele Gordon, Jane, and Roger Tonge.

Noele's secret affair with Val Parnell might have had something to do with her getting the gig in the first place, but does not take away from her enormous talent as a producer, broadcaster, actress and singer. Whatever the reason, she did not deserve to be dumped by ATV in the cruel way that she was.

The music was interesting. Tony Hatch's brief was to write two separate themes. One for Meg and the Motel; the other for her sister Kitty, who ran the local Post Office. Tony wrote and recorded many variants on these two themes, on the understanding that the opening or closing would reflect whichever character had the dominant storyline. But that never happened, and almost all of his cuts remained unused on a shelf. The guitar on the original theme was played by the great Vic Flick, by the way.

Simon Mclean
405 lines
Posts: 74
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:58 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon Mclean »

One interesting legacy of the Sandy disability storyline was the foundation of the Crossroads Care charity, which still exists today (albeit recently merged with the Princess Royal Trust For Carers) - I didn't know there was a connection until relatively recently.

While all the recent tributes to Raf Ravenscroft mentioned his role on Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street, his theme tune for Crossroads: Kings Oak was rather less celebrated, though it was released as both a 7" and 12" single.

User avatar
Simon Coward
D-MAC
Posts: 906
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:56 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon Coward »

Lots of great info there, Tony. That's terrific.
TonyCurrie wrote:"Crossroads" was of course initially a local programme in the Midlands, created to satisfy an ITA requirement that ATV made more programmes in Birmingham for the local audience.
ATV still managed to persuade Border and Ulster to show it from day one, though, all three starting at 18:30 on 2 November 1964.

The big leap came on Monday 28 December 1964 when Rediffusion started to take it, though they gave an earlier timeslot, from 16:35. On the same day, Anglia, Southern, TWW, WWN, Westward and Channel all came on board too. The last pair of these started by showing it simultaneously with ATV, the other four joined Rediffusion earlier in the day. STV's resistance crumbled on 29 March 1965... only Grampian and Granada remained stubborn!
We all have to eat a peck of dirt before we die.

thebeekeeper
625 lines
Posts: 454
Joined: Wed May 14, 2014 9:28 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by thebeekeeper »

The axing of Noele Gordon was sheer stupidity and I think most people knew that at the time aswell.
It was the first time that I recall a producer trying to make a name for themselves by doing something drastic just because they could . It's something new producers seem to do regularly on soaps but I guess they realise that they'll be long gone before anyone realises how stupid it was.
It's a shame the producers didn't have the balls to admit their mistake at the time . I got the feeling they knew it was wrong but they didn't want to back down . Killing off Meg would have made sense in the light of the axing but just sending her off on a cruise was idiotic.
It's bizarre to think they really thought it would improve the show - assuming that was the genuine intention.

The IBA had poked their noses into the series often in a way that would not be tolerated now and they were allowed to get away with it despite Crossroads ratings success

Left Field
405 lines
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:03 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Left Field »

I don't think the decision to end Noele Gordon's contract was simply down to the views of one producer but had been discussed for some time. Those involved clearly thought that she detracted from the credibility of the show and made it difficult to move it on. This is though one of the clearest examples of a disjuncture between producers and audience with the latter overwhelmingly in favour of Meg. In retrospect it does seem a badly misjudged decision, likely to alienate current viewers and hardly likely to win over those who weren't watching. As far as the Crossroads sceptics were concerned nothing would have convinced them to watch the show, even if all the characters had been replaced - for them it would still be "Crossroads" and a tainted brand. The committed audience clearly felt very differently.

The original plan was apparently to kill off Meg but the producers felt this would have antagonised viewers even more and so a different departure was chosen. I think on reflection this was a good decision. It was also more realistic as far too many soap characters succumb to premature deaths by accident or - particularly today - murder. It also did leave the possibility of bringing her back but Noele Gordon's death a few years later ended that option. By that stage though the programme was in deeper decline and even a return for Meg would probably have made little difference.

User avatar
Simon36
HD
Posts: 1096
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:43 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

Wasn't she axed most of all because she couldn't act? (Running for cover now...)

I always liked the phrase used in The Guinness Book of Classic TV: "an actress of slender natural ability..."

brigham
HD
Posts: 1061
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:59 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by brigham »

Simon36 wrote:Wasn't she axed most of all because she couldn't act? (Running for cover now...)

I always liked the phrase used in The Guinness Book of Classic TV: "an actress of slender natural ability..."
Not from Crossroads. It was a requirement!

thebeekeeper
625 lines
Posts: 454
Joined: Wed May 14, 2014 9:28 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by thebeekeeper »

She wasn't the best actress in the world but she really was Crossroads - as the slow decline showed over the next 7 years.
Didn't the producers actually film a death scene for Meg ? I thought the general feeling at the time in not using it was because they bottled out after the more extreme fans issued death threats and were quite unpleasant .

Although the decision to axe her was probably discussed by a team I think the producer at the time could have stopped the axing had he wanted to . But he was brought in to change the show ( possibly on the back of more IBA whinging) and decided that he was untouchable enough to go ahead with the radical decision that most viewers could have told him at the time would be a mistake.

Rather like the BBC's decision to move Dr Who from saturdays to opposite Corrie as a means of killing it off when nobody watched , it appeared that ATV were embarrassed by it and also wanted to kill it off although they were killed off even sooner.

John McE
405 lines
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:55 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by John McE »

I was told by someone at ITC that Noele's axing was more to do with the fact that her contract was with ATV, and Central when it took over wasn't prepared to pay her as much as she was used to. Whether that was actually true I have no idea.

fatcat
D-MAC
Posts: 831
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:02 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by fatcat »

Simon36 wrote:Wasn't she axed most of all because she couldn't act? (Running for cover now...)

I always liked the phrase used in The Guinness Book of Classic TV: "an actress of slender natural ability..."
I think Roger Tonge who played Sandy had only gone to ATV to fix the telephones as he worked for the GPO.. LOL

User avatar
Simon36
HD
Posts: 1096
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:43 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

I suspect her axing was more due to the fact that people who were on her side and indulged her were suddenly gone and Central, if it reluctantly had to maintain Crossroads, at least wanted to change the figurehead of it, as she was associated with all that was bad about it despite being popular. ("I'm a Scot born and bred... over... the border...")

She always struck me as someone who belonged to a different age. I couldn't really imagine her still being a draw in the 80s, she seemed to belong to a more innocent era, exemplified by the copy about her in the TV Times of the 70s. They obviously wanted to shake the show up in some way, as it had been running on the spot for years.

It's interesting to ponder some other occasions when dramas suffered from a character's rather perplexing departure. Anna Friel's sudden disappearance from Brookside springs to mind, and also, while not exactly a departure, I always felt EastEnders ate itself in the Christmas 1986 edition, and never quite achieved the same popularity again. Okay, its always been at the top of the ratings, but it was at fever pitch in 1986, and alot of it was down to the Den/Angie stuff. That Christmas Day saw them split, and also Pauline find out Den was the father of Michelle's baby. It all felt to me like sacrificing a lot of good on-going drama for the sake of a cliffhanger. OK, those stories coulnd't last forever, but it immediately began to feel directionless afterwards to me.

Some would say Rachel Gurney leaving Upstairs Downstairs was a devastating blow, although persoanlly I think it shook things up nicely. ON the other hand, imagine if Tom Baker had left Dr Who after his third season...

PS re Roger Tonge: I seem to recall aforementioned Guiness Book called him "one of the soap's better actors.." There's a very bizarre clip somewhere of he and some of the other cast being interviewed and he has everyone in stitches without any apparent reason.

Brian F
D-MAC
Posts: 500
Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:09 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Brian F »

Like Tony I also had a bit of a teenage crush on Diane Grayson and was very pleased to see her in Emmerdale Farm series 1 & 2 on the DVDs when I bought them. As that was a lunchtime show then I hadn't seen any due to being at work.

ian b
D-MAC
Posts: 662
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:58 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by ian b »

thebeekeeper wrote:Although the decision to axe her was probably discussed by a team I think the producer at the time could have stopped the axing had he wanted to . But he was brought in to change the show ( possibly on the back of more IBA whinging) and decided that he was untouchable enough to go ahead with the radical decision that most viewers could have told him at the time would be a mistake.
Jack Barton was producer when Noele was given her marching orders, a position he held from 1974-1984, so he was hardly a new broom...

User avatar
Simon36
HD
Posts: 1096
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:43 am

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

The Sunday People said this, so it must be true:

http://jhochet.tripod.com/id929.html

Left Field
405 lines
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:03 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Left Field »

Thanks for flagging that up Simon - an interesting article. Other cast members were very positive about Noele Gordon but I'm sure there were also those who didn't like her and, like many people accorded "star" status, she may have been difficult to work with. There can be few other examples - if any - of a particular actor and character being so strongly associated with a show and therefore her departure was bound to have a major impact. It is probably true that her appeal was strongest among older viewers and it is certainly the case that the production staff at the time were worried that the show's audience was "too old" and "too working class". The changes over the next few years were clearly efforts to redress those supposed deficiencies but - to most observers - they were not successful.

Roger Tonge was working for the Post Office at the time of his audition and came to the studio on the off-chance of finding a small part. Apparently he auditioned against a traditional drama school student who had better technical skills but Roger conveyed a more natural air that the producers wanted. Another curious thing is that in its early years various regular Crossroads actors guested in other shows - both Roger and Sue Hanson turned up in Nearest and Dearest for example and Jane Rossington featured in a Public Eye episode. Cast members have said they were only on weekly contracts so maybe this allowed them to take on other roles every now and then. The Nearest and Dearest characters played by Roger and Sue could almost have been Sandy and Diane visiting their northern relatives; I'm not sure whether producers would have asked them to play very different characters or how viewers might have taken to them playing "against type".

thebeekeeper
625 lines
Posts: 454
Joined: Wed May 14, 2014 9:28 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by thebeekeeper »

ian b wrote:
thebeekeeper wrote:Although the decision to axe her was probably discussed by a team I think the producer at the time could have stopped the axing had he wanted to . But he was brought in to change the show ( possibly on the back of more IBA whinging) and decided that he was untouchable enough to go ahead with the radical decision that most viewers could have told him at the time would be a mistake.
Jack Barton was producer when Noele was given her marching orders, a position he held from 1974-1984, so he was hardly a new broom...
I think I have some documentary footage somewhere on dvd with a person talking about her axing. (Might be The Unforgettable Noele)

Of course regardless of whether Barton was there from 1974 or even 1964 I still would think it was within his power to stop the axe although it would seem the instruction was from higher up the chain.

Edit - it seems it was Charles Denton , controller of programming at ATV . The post further up connecting the reason for her sacking to be all to do with the change to Central now makes sense . Noele was sacked 6 months before ATV became Central, had her final scene 2 months before and despite Central trying to wipe ATV off the face of the earth over a single weekend by attempting to remove every reference to ATV from the studios they were taking over ( according to the MACE documentary) they strangely retained ATV's controller of programming and let him do the same job at Central - Charles Denton . Rather selective whitewashing there. If you want to escape from the ATV spectre why keep the person closest to the ATV identity?
Returning a favour maybe ?

User avatar
John Williams
Committee
Posts: 281
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:38 pm

Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by John Williams »

I bow to no-one in my love for Crossroads, but there's really no need to subscribe to conspiracy theories about Charles Denton. Although Central had to demonstrate forcefully that they weren't ATV, and very few programmes survived the transition, they weren't daft enough to get rid of Denton because he was very good. His career up to that point, and subsequently, demonstrates that.

As others have pointed out, Noele Gordon was on a salary with ATV, which she would have got whether Crossroads existed or not. She was also associated with the board. This made her untouchable for years, and while there are plenty of people who were fond of her, there are also many who describe her in the same way as people talk about Stalin - you never knew if she would give you a hug or have you (metaphorically) killed. From what I can gather Zeph Gladstone was one of the unlucky ones.

It may look like the golden era now, but the performances from Noele in her latter years are pretty dreadful. She's a static, cumbersome fixed point that all the cast and crew have to work around, like boats circling an old WWII mine. The show needed a lift, and Noele would have been a block to this in dramatic terms, and undoubtedly a block to change because of her diva tendencies. She was unlucky in that the change from ATV to Central offered the perfect opportunity to kick her out.

The change was doomed to failure, and in my opinion they should have ended Crossroads with a bang on the last night of ATV. But TV companies find it very difficult to drop programmes with huge ratings, even when there's a lurking demographic crisis waiting to undermine them.

Post Reply