Crossroads - 50 years on

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Simon36
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

Excellent post, John. Although I'm glad it didn't end in 1981. There would have been no Arthur Brownlow clutching his golf trophy as he lay dying for one thing.

Which reminds me, and I'm sure I've mentioned it before, of my favourite ever Crossroads cliffhanger. There was a (possibly Christmas) party at the Brownlows, and Arthur was blindfolded. When he took the blindfold off everyone had gone and left him by himself. Cue the sad version of the theme. This was traumatic to the child I was then.

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John Williams
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by John Williams »

Oh don't get me wrong. There were loads of great moments after 1981, but part of me loves the idea of the emblematic ATV show ending along with the station.

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Juswuh
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Juswuh »

Why is Crossroads so hard to find on DVD? The sets seem to be scarce and/or expensive.

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John Williams
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by John Williams »

I think stock went up in the warehouse fire, and it was never reissued.

thebeekeeper
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by thebeekeeper »

John Williams wrote: The change was doomed to failure, and in my opinion they should have ended Crossroads with a bang on the last night of ATV..
What a great idea .
Would likely have improved the shows reputation over the years too with a grand finale instead of slowly dying over 7 years. The Motel burning to the ground on the final night would have beaten the destruction of Walnut Grove by 3 years and made for an equally memorable concluding episode

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Billy Smart
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Billy Smart »

...and, unlike the end of Brookside, there would have still been an audience to see it!

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Jezza
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Jezza »

It's a shame Network can't re-release the 45th anniversary box set, i sadly had to sell mine due to financial problems, i regret doing that now as it's going for silly prices on Amazon now! :(

thebeekeeper
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by thebeekeeper »

Maybe Charles Denton will come clean next April.
This looks interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tijcfP8z7w

If only this had a wider audience.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5-qgzWTjpY

simon10011
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by simon10011 »

Simon36 wrote:Excellent post, John. Although I'm glad it didn't end in 1981. There would have been no Arthur Brownlow clutching his golf trophy as he lay dying for one thing.

Which reminds me, and I'm sure I've mentioned it before, of my favourite ever Crossroads cliffhanger. There was a (possibly Christmas) party at the Brownlows, and Arthur was blindfolded. When he took the blindfold off everyone had gone and left him by himself. Cue the sad version of the theme. This was traumatic to the child I was then.
I remember having to go out when the episode showing the death of Arthur Brownlow was on and it still irritates me slightly that i haven't seen it as i used to love the Brownlow family. Didn't they do a test tube baby storyline involving Glenda and her husband.

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Bob Richardson
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Bob Richardson »

John Williams wrote:
Noele in her latter years (was) 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.
Beautifully put. I was never a regular viewer, but dipped in and out of the series from time to time.Watching Noele Gordon was like rubbernecking a car crash. She had an exaggerated acting style that was over-theatrical and frankly unbelievable at times. But that was part of the (limited) attraction of the show and her departure left a huge void at the centre of it.
"Forfar 5 - East Fife 4"

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John Williams
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by John Williams »

simon10011 wrote:I remember having to go out when the episode showing the death of Arthur Brownlow was on and it still irritates me slightly that i haven't seen it as i used to love the Brownlow family. Didn't they do a test tube baby storyline involving Glenda and her husband.
If you want to see the sad demise of Arthur then you can find it on YouTube. Don't forget your hanky.

And yes, Glenda and Kevin did have a test tube baby storyline.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by fatcat »

John Williams wrote: If you want to see the sad demise of Arthur then you can find it on YouTube. Don't forget your hanky.
Very sad - you know it was serious when they used the McCartney theme, so not a dry eye in the house.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

If only the Blindman's Buff clifffhanger was on there too. No-one else ever seems to remember it.

As well as the oft-mentioned early appearances by Malcolm McDowell etc, one shouldn't forget that there were a few pretty respected actors among the regulars over the years. John Forgeham, Edward Clayton, Frances White, Jeremy Sinden, Stephen Bent, Jon Laurimore... they weren't all on the Ann George level.

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John Williams
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by John Williams »

Simon36 wrote:If only the Blindman's Buff clifffhanger was on there too. No-one else ever seems to remember it.

As well as the oft-mentioned early appearances by Malcolm McDowell etc, one shouldn't forget that there were a few pretty respected actors among the regulars over the years. John Forgeham, Edward Clayton, Frances White, Jeremy Sinden, Stephen Bent, Jon Laurimore... they weren't all on the Ann George level.
I interviewed Edward Clayton recently. He's very bitter about Crossroads. He wrote for the show as well, and didn't have a happy experience.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by simon10011 »

John Williams wrote:
simon10011 wrote:I remember having to go out when the episode showing the death of Arthur Brownlow was on and it still irritates me slightly that i haven't seen it as i used to love the Brownlow family. Didn't they do a test tube baby storyline involving Glenda and her husband.
If you want to see the sad demise of Arthur then you can find it on YouTube. Don't forget your hanky.

And yes, Glenda and Kevin did have a test tube baby storyline.
Many thanks for that.
Why do death's in soaps have to be so heavily signposted during the episode!
I wonder why each episode credits 3 writers. Did they really need 3 writers per 20 minute episode, or did they just credit all the writers working on a certain batch of episodes?

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Left Field »

simon10011 wrote:I wonder why each episode credits 3 writers. Did they really need 3 writers per 20 minute episode, or did they just credit all the writers working on a certain batch of episodes?
Apparently each writer was responsible for a specific story-line running across a number of episodes.

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Billy Smart
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Billy Smart »

You can always tell whenever Raymond Bowers is back on the writing team when you're watching Crossroads. Here's a typically incoherent line from February 1979 - Sandy Richardson is behind the reception desk and passes on a message to a guest:

"Obviously you've seen your father, since he gave me the message for you. He asked me to tell you to meet him here at 12.30 tomorrow. He's going to be in very late tonight and out very early in the morning. In the first place you'd have gone to bed by the time he gets in, and in the second place you wouldn't be up by the time he goes out, so he asked me to make sure that you knew he wanted to see you."

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

I was meant to ask about Bowers, the most unlikely of people to end up on Crossroads, but then again he had clearly burnt his bridges with everyone else. Poor Roger Tonge having to get his tongue around that load of old rubbish with zero chance of a retake. That would challenge anyone. Bowers could easily have written McFee's "behaviours of patterns" line that way around himself.

I'd love to know more about how the scripting process worked as this seems a pretty unique way of working. John, will we get to enjoy the results of your Clayton interview somewhere?

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by billo »

The sad thing is they missed a golden oppertunity with the revised series to do something to LIFT soaps out of the mire they have got bogged down in...!

Yes 'Crossroads' LIFT soaps !

Since 'Brookside' ushered in the era of endless arguments, domestic strife, and sensationalist OTT plotlines, ALL soaps went that way - Eastenders is a perennial 'punch up', Corrie & Emmerdale 'dumbed down' into likewise with an unhealthy obsession on sex and violence...and primary focus on just yoof, yoof, yoof !

The shows are all aimed firmly at a perceived yoof audience now - thus the original core 'Mums' audience (plus more men than would openly admit...) who comprised the original 'Crossroads' audience who wanted a essentially 'ordinary lives' styled soap they could unwind & relax too - with the occasional more gritty storyline or happening but 'occasional' not the norm - and without a staple diet of incessant shouting, bickering, argueing, or non stop obsession with sex themes (and the seemingly obligatory gay characters thrust down your throat !)...quickly gave up on the ill advised revamped version of 'Crossroads' which was never aimed at them at all...

Kathy Staff quickly opted out of the revamped version of the show as she disliked all the sex themes (my late Mum, her best friend & a zillion other ladies of their generation disliked it just as much as Kathy too ! - there goes your 'core' viewing audience....) while 'killing off' Jill & Adam accordingly also got up viewers noses (exactly as Jane Rossington had warned the 'know all' TV execs)

new producer after new producer (each full of ego) just killed the thing....too quickly booting out older show cast members, too many changes, concentrating on the 'all important yoof and gay audiences' that were not the 'core audience' for the show anyway - and who largely wern't interested in the first place
and anyway, shouldn't a soap cater for EVERYBODY ??
- these really were the crucial factors in killing the revived version of the show off...

earlier the original show had been far too quick to 'kill off' much loved characters anyway (Sue Hanson's Diane being a clear example)

In the end the old 'Bobby Ewing in the shower' dream lame excuse was used - at least that wiped the slate clean re the misjudged updated version (clue for any future 'Doctor Who' production team who might want to wipe out the dreadful RTD/Moff years disaster from 'Dr.Who' to re-start that show properly afresh one day...?)

IF you could get Jane Rossington & Tony Adams back as Jill & Adam Chance, and maybe get in Sue Hanson as Diane's twin sister....(why not ?, not impossible) - maybe even tempt the still lovely Diane Keen back too ? (most of the still acting women from the older show still look very nice even now !) plus a few decent older actors besides younger cast to give the show a broad generational appeal, and then aim the thing properly NOT at yoof but at at it's 'core audience' (the Mums fed up with endless tasteless sex, violence & shouting/fighting that passes for soaps today)...plus the guys who secretly enjoy a more genteel 'ordinary lives' styled soap - then in a better produced updated 'Crossroads' I think the show could work with decent storylines centering on the admin of a business motel or hotel in the Midlands....and the lives of the staff - put Jill & Adam now back together as the owners...

the basic scenario idea is still sound...and soaps badly need rescuing from the charmless disaster they have all become thanks to that idiot & his awful conflict obsessed 'Brookside' !

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by longtimelurker »

billo wrote:The sad thing is they missed a golden oppertunity with the revised series to do something to LIFT soaps out of the mire they have got bogged down in...!

Yes 'Crossroads' LIFT soaps !

Since 'Brookside' ushered in the era of endless arguments, domestic strife, and sensationalist OTT plotlines, ALL soaps went that way - Eastenders is a perennial 'punch up', Corrie & Emmerdale 'dumbed down' into likewise with an unhealthy obsession on sex and violence...and primary focus on just yoof, yoof, yoof !
Yes, the Brookside "body under the patio" storyline was the changer for soaps. They all started to include regular sensationalist elements afterwards, in response. It sadly seems out of the realms of possibility now for any soaps to use "down to earth" plots which relate to ordinary life and people, which used to be the appeal of them. All the soaps are unwatchable these days for this reason (Eastenders is the worst but all the rest are almost as bad). One incredulous, hysterical storyline after another with hateful, unlikable characters, none of which you empathise with or care about whatsoever.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by SgtPepper »

billo wrote: Kathy Staff quickly opted out of the revamped version of the show as she disliked all the sex themes (my late Mum, her best friend & a zillion other ladies of their generation disliked it just as much as Kathy too ! - there goes your 'core' viewing audience....) while 'killing off' Jill & Adam accordingly also got up viewers noses (exactly as Jane Rossington had warned the 'know all' TV execs)

new producer after new producer (each full of ego) just killed the thing....too quickly booting out older show cast members, too many changes, concentrating on the 'all important yoof and gay audiences' that were not the 'core audience' for the show anyway - and who largely wern't interested in the first place
and anyway, shouldn't a soap cater for EVERYBODY ??
- these really were the crucial factors in killing the revived version of the show off...
I know my mother and her friends who had been watchers of the original show were not that bothered by the "sexing up" of it, but were pretty upset by the Sarah-Jane Harvey storyline. The actress who originally played the part wanted to leave fairly early on and instead of just writing out the character for a bit and replacing her with another actress they decided to make her an imposter and bring in another actress immediately. It was absolutely ludicrous to believe that Jill wouldn't have known it wasn't her daughter. It wasn't as if she'd given her up at birth for adoption. She'd been part of her life up to the age of about 8.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by VintageFan »

John Williams wrote:
Simon36 wrote:If only the Blindman's Buff clifffhanger was on there too. No-one else ever seems to remember it.

As well as the oft-mentioned early appearances by Malcolm McDowell etc, one shouldn't forget that there were a few pretty respected actors among the regulars over the years. John Forgeham, Edward Clayton, Frances White, Jeremy Sinden, Stephen Bent, Jon Laurimore... they weren't all on the Ann George level.
I interviewed Edward Clayton recently. He's very bitter about Crossroads. He wrote for the show as well, and didn't have a happy experience.
Bitter in what respect,John?

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John Williams
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by John Williams »

Simon36 wrote:I'd love to know more about how the scripting process worked as this seems a pretty unique way of working. John, will we get to enjoy the results of your Clayton interview somewhere?
Yes, it will be in my biography of Malcolm Hulke which should be out next year.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by TonyCurrie »

billo wrote:IF you could get Jane Rossington & Tony Adams back as Jill & Adam Chance, and maybe get in Sue Hanson as Diane's twin sister....(why not ?, not impossible) - maybe even tempt the still lovely Diane Keen back too ? (most of the still acting women from the older show still look very nice even now !) plus a few decent older actors besides younger cast to give the show a broad generational appeal, and then aim the thing properly NOT at yoof but at at it's 'core audience' (the Mums fed up with endless tasteless sex, violence & shouting/fighting that passes for soaps today)...plus the guys who secretly enjoy a more genteel 'ordinary lives' styled soap - then in a better produced updated 'Crossroads' I think the show could work with decent storylines centering on the admin of a business motel or hotel in the Midlands....and the lives of the staff - put Jill & Adam now back together as the owners...

the basic scenario idea is still sound...and soaps badly need rescuing from the charmless disaster they have all become thanks to that idiot & his awful conflict obsessed 'Brookside' !
I don't for a moment disagree with Billo, and it would be entertaining to see Jane/Sue/Diane back in their original characters. But, assuming that the BBC would have no interest whatsoever in negotiating to acquire the rights to the series from ITV (far less actually make a new version) it would have to be made by ITV. ITV is funded by advertising, and the revenue from advertising is demographic-sensitive. Like it or not, there are some groups whose spending power is insufficient for them to be the target audience for commercial television. 55+ C2DE women are insignificant when it comes to their spending on the kind of products/services offered by major television advertisers, so I just can't see anyone spending the necessary cash - and it would be a substantial sum - to produce a series that advertisers weren't interested in.

And before anyone points to the Saga, Stairlift, Life Insurance type ads that dominate daytime on many channels, these advertisers certainly want their commercials to be attached to programmes attracting the older female demographic, but the amount of advertising spend is really only sufficient to fund repeats or cheap chat shows.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by billo »

true and I see and totally agree your points in general as being very true of today's Television companies and advertisers thinking of course - but then could not the SAME argument have equally applied in the sixties, seventies, eighties (when far more women of that 55+ age group were just 'housewives' who were not in any paid employment at all as such rather were hard working stay at home 'homemakers')....the decades and eras in which 'Crossroads' thrived - being itself a very 'cheapo' production - when it regularly beat the likes of the lavish 'Dallas' and shows like 'Emmerdale' in the ratings figures....

'Crossroads' began to falter when Central were none too keen on the ATV show they had inherited - the sacking of Meg, love her or loathe her, was a televisual self inflicted gunshot to the head earlier - and thereafter Central tried to make too many changes too quickly upsetting older fans, killed off or axed other much loved regulars (Miss Diane, David Hunter, etc, finally in the dismal revamped version Jill before it all became just a shopgirl's daydream...), replaced them with less charismatic replacements, tried to alter the atmosphere and style of the show too fast, and lost the 'homely' cosiness of the original concept as new 'smart alec' producer after new 'smart alec' producer tried to make it THEIR show, and trampled all over the aspects that held the core viewing audience...who unsurprisingly left in droves

A few of those 'smart alec' new producers were probably just 'hatchet men' men and women whose brief was to 'kill the damn thing off' as you see in businesses and companies...

Thus ITV succeeded in losing viewers, a prime case of cutting off your nose purely to spite your face

cue a chat show gardener....or two !

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Mark »

Not the biggest fan of soaps, with one exception, "Crossroads", always loved it, it was a bit whacky and showbizzy, one of my favourite episodes is Meg's wedding in 75, complete with Stephanie De Sykes singing, very glam, and I also loved it, when Meg ( in a Christmas episode) turned to camera and started to sing, brilliant!

It seemed to lose it's fun side, when the show was revamped in the 80's, too many changes, and losing Noel was also puzzling at the time.

Agree with Jezza, thought Network might have taken the opportunity to re-release the episodes, in a couple of volumes, as In my case, I didn't finish getting them, and I really would love to see them.

There's chapters on writing "Crossroads", in Malcolm Hulke's excellent book, "Writing For Television-In The 70's", including script extracts, it's a great book, in general.

Looking forward to John's book on Hulke, very much.
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

I love the fact that Noelle Gordon and Dennis Potter were practically neighbours. They must have bumped into each other a few times in Ross. The polar opposites of 70s telly.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Westengland »

Simon36 wrote:I love the fact that Noelle Gordon and Dennis Potter were practically neighbours. They must have bumped into each other a few times in Ross. The polar opposites of 70s telly.
They're now "together in death" in Ross. You can visit their graves if you like but remember you might encounter Findagravers (the people who contribute to the Find A Grave site).


There's a game of imagining episodes of "soft" soaps made by "hard" playwrights, directors and actors etc. - so, for example, think of Crossroads scripted by Dennis Potter, Emmerdale by David Rudkin, The Archers by Harold Pinter (done by Russell Davies in Punch IIRC), Scottish soaps by Irvine Welsh and so on. Since alcohol is usually involved in these discussions, things can degenerate into fantasies of cult gross-out directors and porn stars turning up at Granada or ATV studios to do their takes on UK soaps.
Expect trouble if you know more than they do.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

That's fantastic. Although "imagine Raymond Bowers writing Crossroads" actually did happen which is almost as strange!

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by ian b »

Westengland wrote:
Simon36 wrote:I love the fact that Noelle Gordon and Dennis Potter were practically neighbours. They must have bumped into each other a few times in Ross. The polar opposites of 70s telly.
They're now "together in death" in Ross. You can visit their graves if you like...
Go to the right of the church, and onto the graveyard, go straight down and then take a sharp right where a wall begins and about halfway down that section, towards the end of a row is Noele and her mother's grave.

The church itself is worth a wander round.

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