Crossroads - 50 years on

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Westengland
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Westengland »

If you're touring the area when you visit St Mary's, Foy, you could go over to Holy Trinity, Tibberton, Gloucestershire (c.28km, c.30 minutes by car) where you will find the grave of Betty Lambda (aka 'Betty Paul') and Peter Lambda. Both, amongst other things, television playwrights, BL not least on current MC faves Rooms, Marked Personal and Harriet's Back In Town and together, as creators and writers, on the famous victim of Sixties ITV politics Weaver's Green.

BL and PL's grave (his body, her ashes) is the sixth one to the right on the fourth row of graves right-side of the path from the main gate to the church. Currently there is a shrub obscuring the headstone but a visitor can get a photograph of its inscription, if they want to. I was there only last Wednesday afternoon (incidently, Tibberton Court, where the Lambda's lived, is the large house, other buildings and gardens to the north-west of the churchyard).

I shall be trying to get the Lambdas into a future update of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography but not to write the biographies myself, so would be interested in whether there is anybody who has the knowledge and understanding of both BL's and PL's background and work to produce a joint ODNB entry that isn't as shoddy as some of the recent ones have been.
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Mark
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Mark »

Interesting to hear critique of Raymond Bower's writing style, I always liked his scripts, I can see that his style can sometimes be...baffling, but generally it's excellent.

I defended his style ( on the old site) concerning his "Upstairs Downstairs" script, "The Swedish Tiger", having watched it many times since, I can see that it didn't fit the general style and feel of the show, but was still a clever script.

His scripts for other series were equally clever and quirky, such as the ones for "Danger Man", particularly "A Man To Be Trusted", with sparkling dialogue between Drake and Mora, and also his "Hadleigh" episodes, such as "M.Y.O.B", which demanded full attention, with a great pay off at the end.

I have always found his work to be very entertaining.
"A cup of Tea....Tea...Tea"

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Simon36
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

But his (to be polite) "mannered" dialogue frequently makes absolutely no sense. "If she'd seen it if there had been...!"

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Billy Smart
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Billy Smart »

Crossroads is one of only two places where Bowers' incoherant style doesn't bug me too much, because it fits in with the general erratic charm of the plotting, which often felt like it was made up on the spot. The other is The Power Game, which specialised in hard-to-follow boardroom subterfuge, making his scripts match up better with the rest of the series.

It is my contention, however, that Bowers' two episodes of the first series of Hadleigh are some of the very worst drama scripts to have ever been produced for British television. Popular TV is an odd platform for his extreme right-wing libertarian opinions. In 'The Day of the Miuras' the supposedly lovable aristocrat is pursued on holiday in Franco's Spain by a weaslely Civil Servant investigating expatriate tax evasion. "It is just as well that you weren't born in Germany, Wenner" Hadleigh rebukes the unfortunate man, "I can see you in charge at Auchwitz or Dachau!". If that wasn't enough,three weeks later Hadleigh invites his tax-avoiding expat friends back to Hadleigh Hall (in 'M.Y.O.B.') and refuses to complete his census form, once again doing convoluted battle with the duplicitous Wenner. The hero comes across more like a UKIP candidate than the dashing modern-day knight and perfect gentleman of his better adventures.

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Roll ACR
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Roll ACR »

Mark wrote:Interesting to hear critique of Raymond Bower's writing style, I always liked his scripts, I can see that his style can sometimes be...baffling, but generally it's excellent.

I defended his style ( on the old site) concerning his "Upstairs Downstairs" script, "The Swedish Tiger", having watched it many times since, I can see that it didn't fit the general style and feel of the show, but was still a clever script.

His scripts for other series were equally clever and quirky, such as the ones for "Danger Man", particularly "A Man To Be Trusted", with sparkling dialogue between Drake and Mora, and also his "Hadleigh" episodes, such as "M.Y.O.B", which demanded full attention, with a great pay off at the end.

I have always found his work to be very entertaining.
I agree, I really like those eps in S1 of "Hadleigh" and as you say his eps of other series are, in my opinion, enjoyable.

His style is different, swinging from complexly verbose to succinct economy:

"Knowing, why ask?"

I can see why they're Marmite scripts but I'm in the love camp.

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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Mark »

Good point, there, Roll, his writing certainly divides opinion.

Billy, a tad harsh on the scripts, if it's based purely on the political stance, that aside, I thought they were well constructed, and required very close scrutiny to follow the plots, Bower's dialogue Is always entertaining and witty.

Yes, it may be difficult to have any sympathies with Hadleigh's ex-pat friends, but he was always going to remain loyal to them, and as likeable as Hadleigh was ( and he had to be) his privileged background was always going to show up in aspects of his persona, I think this was also dealt with, very well, in his relationships, particularly with Susan Jackson and Jennifer Caldwell.

Looking at that "Crossroads" dialogue from Sandy again, I'm not convinced Bowers wrote that, I know he was credited as one of the writers of the episode ( I don't think I have that one, frustratingly) but it sounds to me like a spot of improv from Roger Tonge, probably due to the episode under running, something that other cast members were called upon to do, from time to time.

I'll lay odds, it's not in the script ( if it survives), more like Tonge having a bit of a laugh, and coming up with it, off the cuff.
"A cup of Tea....Tea...Tea"

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Billy Smart
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Billy Smart »

I think that Roger Tonge could have improvised better dialogue than that! He looks relieved to have remembered it. It does tally with the inimitible Bowers style to me. From Upstairs Downstairs: The Swedish Tiger:
JAMES: There's so much dust here, Alice must have started it.

ELIZABETH: Oh no, Rose would have seen.

JAMES: You can't say that because if Rose had seen, she'd have reprimanded Alice and had her dust never again around at all.

ELIZABETH: If there'd been anything to see.

JAMES: And if she'd seen it if there had been.

ELIZABETH: Alice?

JAMES: Rose.

ELIZABETH: I don't think you follow me.
The 1969 series of Hadleigh is a good illustration of a first series that hasn't yet decided what sort of programme its going to become. Is it a business drama? Is it a community drama? When Michael J Bird gets an episode Hadleigh's fiancee goes on holiday to Greece and becomes a hostage in an international thriller... There's a real sense of having found out what works best in the last (Alfred Shaughnessy) episode - Of course! This is a romantic series about the business of being a gentleman aristocrat - having butlers, a mansion and estate to run, duties to the folk of the community, an exasperating funny aunt to placate and girlfriends to behave nobly towards. A model for a drama that I derive tremendous pleasure from watching.

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Simon36
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Re: Crossroads - 50 years on

Post by Simon36 »

Billy Smart wrote:I think that Roger Tonge could have improvised better dialogue than that! He looks relieved to have remembered it. It does tally with the inimitible Bowers style to me. From Upstairs Downstairs: The Swedish Tiger:
JAMES: There's so much dust here, Alice must have started it.

ELIZABETH: Oh no, Rose would have seen.

JAMES: You can't say that because if Rose had seen, she'd have reprimanded Alice and had her dust never again around at all.

ELIZABETH: If there'd been anything to see.

JAMES: And if she'd seen it if there had been.

ELIZABETH: Alice?

JAMES: Rose.

ELIZABETH: I don't think you follow me.
The 1969 series of Hadleigh is a good illustration of a first series that hasn't yet decided what sort of programme its going to become. Is it a business drama? Is it a community drama? When Michael J Bird gets an episode Hadleigh's fiancee goes on holiday to Greece and becomes a hostage in an international thriller... There's a real sense of having found out what works best in the last (Alfred Shaughnessy) episode - Of course! This is a romantic series about the business of being a gentleman aristocrat - having butlers, a mansion and estate to run, duties to the folk of the community, an exasperating funny aunt to placate and girlfriends to behave nobly towards. A model for a drama that I derive tremendous pleasure from watching.
I agree. I'm really enjoying it the deeper in I'm getting: very much looking forward to Hilary Dwyer making an appearance. How predictable that when Michael J Bird got into the writing chair we were suddeenly in Greece!

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