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Last Updated:  Monday, 5 March, 2001, 13:19 GMT
From Crossroads to dead end
Noele Gordon
Noele Gordon was the matriarch of Crossroads' first incarnation
Crossroads has been axed by ITV for the second time in its history - two years after the network revived the veteran soap. BBC News Online looks back at its history.

In 1964, Coronation Street was just four years old, Emmerdale was a dozen years away and EastEnders wouldn't arrive for another 21 years.

And Hazel Adair and Peter Ling created what they planned to call The Midland Road for ITV.

Renamed Crossroads, it would become the most mocked drama series in British television history but it would also last for 24 years, before its shortlived revival in 2001.

If you had to do a scene again you felt as though the sword of Damocles was hanging over your head
Anthony Morton (Carlos)
It ran initially for five days a week, though in 1967 it dropped back to four and in 1979 ITV's regulator, the Independent Broadcasting Authority, ordered it to go down to three, seemingly aghast at how bad it was.

Always recorded in the ATV - later Central - studios in Birmingham, star Jane Rossington says the original Crossroads' production was a race to get episodes made in time: "We had to record it as if it were live... we'd do the first half in one go."

Retakes were possible but Anthony Morton, who played Spanish chef Carlos, said: "If you had to do a scene again you felt as though the sword of Damocles was hanging over your head."

Silent guests

The soap was the story of the Crossroads Motel, a small business in King's Oak, somewhere in the Midlands. It was a small pond, but Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon) ran it like she was the queen of a country and the motel was a cardboard castle with a lot of staff and some mostly silent guests.

Crossroads
The cast in the 1970s
Among the many staff cleaning the motel's few chalets were Doris Luke (Kathy Staff) and Amy Turtle (Ann George), the model for Victoria Wood's character Mrs Overall.

When Ronald Allen later joined as manager David Hunter, Ann George was rumoured to have complained: "I can't work with him, he acts too fast!"

Daft plots

Such were the daft plots that Amy Turtle was accused of being a Russian spy who had cunningly changed her name from Amelia Turtlovski. If that story were ever resolved, and not everything was, nobody cared.

People did get very caught up in the slightly more realistic storyline with Jill's pregnancy which faithfully followed the stages. It only goofed in lasting for eleven months.

Characters would leave a room and never be seen in the show again.

In 1967, the show upgraded its sets - on the pretext of an unexploded bomb going off under the motel - but producers retained the shaking walls.

End of an era

The poor motel did suffer: it was also burnt down in a bizarre storyline that had Meg appear to die but actually going on a cruise.

Crossroads - Jill and Adam Chance (Jane Rossington and Tony Adams)
A tense moment in the office for Jill and Adam Chance
Noele Gordon had been dropped from the show after 17 years and when that episode ended with Paul McCartney's rearranged "sad" version of the theme, an era was over.

While it would last another seven years, the 1970s heyday with handyman Benny, chef Shughie McFee, sour and dour Glenda Brownlow and the oily Adam Chance was finished.

The show remained extraordinarily poorly made for a network ITV show but shoddiness finally wasn't enough.

Despite a glitzy, mid-80s revamp by its new producers Central, the show was cancelled in 1988.

21st century revival

The series remained just a memory until 2001, when Carlton TV - which had bought Central - revived it in an attempt to boost ITV's daytime schedule.

Adam Chance (Tony Adams)
The suave Adam Chance returned for the 2001 relaunch
The location would be the same, and Jane Rossington returned briefly as Jill Harvey, battling to buy the motel from its new owners.

Producers hoped all the elements to keep a young audience were there - a hunky gay handyman, a teenage daughter up to no good, and romance amongst the kitchen staff.

But ratings were disappointing, and the slicker new show was taken off in 2002 for a rethink.

Camp revamp

New executive producer Yvon Grace - who had worked on Holby City and EastEnders - promised a "fun, escapist and sexy" show, far away from the modest Midlands setting of old.

Jane Asher joined as a "superbitch" boss alongside former glamour model Emma Noble and guest stars like Les Dennis, and ITV commissioned 240 more episodes.

But its lurch into a camp new look - more Dynasty than Dudley - raised laughs rather than ratings when it was premiered in January 2003.

After just 30 episodes, the axe fell again - sending Crossroads back to the dustbin for the second time in its history.




SEE ALSO:
ITV drops Crossroads
10 Mar 03 |  Entertainment
Dennis joins revamped Crossroads
10 Jan 03 |  Entertainment
Asher joins revamped Crossroads
08 Oct 02 |  Entertainment
Crossroads given more time
17 Jun 02 |  Entertainment
Crossroads faces uncertain future
24 Jan 02 |  Entertainment
Bad service at new Crossroads
05 Mar 01 |  Entertainment


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