News Archive: February 2001



February 14th Saw the PRESS LAUNCH for Crossroads…


Nora Batty to join Crossroads


BBC News Online


Actress Kathy Staff has quit the long-running BBC comedy Last of the Summer Wine to rejoin Crossroads, scrapped in 1988 but re-launching on ITV in March.


Staff, who has played the role of Nora Batty for 28 years, said her decision was triggered by the death of fellow Summer Wine star Bill Owen in 1999.


The actress said her final series last year had not been the same without Owen, who played Compo.  "As far as I was concerned it didn't work so I decided not to do any more," she commented.  She will reprise her old role as Doris Luke when Crossroads returns.


Staff is one of just three original cast members asked to rejoin the soap, along with Jane Rossington as Jill Harvey, and Tony Adams, who will play Adam Chance.


Speaking at the Crossroads re-launch in London, Staff said the new version of the soap was more polished and fast-moving than the old series, which ran from 1964 to 1988.


She joked that the sets - once renowned for wobbling during filming - were now more solid, adding: "There's so much going on, I think it will be a great success."


Rossington, meanwhile, blamed the decision to axe the old series on bad feeling from television executives.

"A lot of people in the industry didn't like the show," she said. "They couldn't understand why the public did and because of that there was a lot of antipathy."


Tony Adams echoed her views. "I just think it would be lovely if the show - having deservedly now got the recognition that it's got - is left alone to be a success for everybody," said Adams.

Crossroads, he said, was the "mother of the soaps".


Viewers' favourite Benny, played by Paul Henry in the original series, will not feature in the new show.

Staff said: "Benny was a lovely character, a lovely actor. I don't know that there could be a place for him, that's up to people to decide. It would be lovely to have him back."


Jane Gurnett, meanwhile, will play the hotel boss, with Sherrie Hewson as receptionist.

Crossroads will screen twice a day at lunch times and at 1705 in the old Home and Away slots, from 5 March.






Actresses heartache as Nora Batty bows out




Last of the Summer Wine star Kathy Staff has told of her heartache at leaving the UK's longest-running comedy programme. Ms Staff, who is rejoining the cast of Crossroads, said it had been "a wrench" to leave the BBC1 series, but she said her decision was triggered by the death of her co-star Bill Owen, who played Compo.


The actress has played Nora Batty for 28 years, but said her final series last year had not been the same without Owen. Speaking at the Crossroads relaunch, she said: "I did feel I had come to the end of the road once Compo had died."


The actress reached her decision before being offered her old Crossroads role, Doris Luke. She said it had been wonderful to return to Crossroads. The show is relaunched on ITV next month. It was scrapped in 1988.





Soap's melody lingers but sets won't wobble


Media Guardian

The sets may no longer shake, but diehard Crossroads fans will be delighted to learn that the producers of the new version have kept the next most recognisable aspect of the original series: the theme tune.


Carlton TV has enlisted Rod Stratfold, art director of Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, to ensure that the new reception does not wobble and the bedrooms don't sway. But the programme-makers have stopped short of abandoning the music that introduced Crossroads for 23 years until it was axed in 1988.





Kathy’s Crossroads


The Huddersfield Daily Examiner


LAST Of The Summer Wine star Kathy Staff has told of her heartache at leaving the UK's longest-running TV comedy programme.


Kathy, who is rejoining the cast of ITV's Crossroads, said it had been "a wrench" to leave the BBC1 series filmed in Holmfirth, but her decision was triggered by the death of her co-star Bill Owen, who played Compo.


The actress, who played Nora Batty for 28 years, said her final series last year had not been the same without Owen, who died in July, 1999.


Speaking at the Crossroads relaunch in London, she said: "As far as I was concerned, it didn't work last year, so I decided not to do any more."





New Crossroads has gay Benny




The new Crossroads is to have a gay Benny. The dimwitted handyman played in the original series by Paul Henry will be replaced by hunky homosexual Bradley Clarke. The move is intended to bring the reborn ITV soap up to date.


Luke Walker, who plays Bradley, said his character has been in a year-long relationship with cafe boss Tom Curtis.

"They're not a stereotypical gay couple, just two normal blokes who happen to be in love with each other," he said.


The soap, famed for its dodgy sets and lacklustre acting, was axed in 1988. It returns next month and will be screened each weekday lunchtime. Among the old cast returning are Jane Rossington as Jill Harvey, Kathy Staff as Doris Luke and Tony Adams as Adam Chance. Sherrie Hewson will play motel receptionist Virginia Raven.


Jane Gurnett will play the owner Kate Russell, and former Hollyoaks stars James McKenzie Robinson and Toby Sawyer will also be in the new Crossroads.





Crossroads porter to speak first




The porter at Crossroads motel is preparing to make TV history by delivering the first line of the revamped soap.


Actor Roger Sloman opens the episode with "Five, four, three, two, one - I've made it."


Roger says he's nervous about following in the footsteps of Jane Rossington who delivered the line in 1964. The first line of the original soap - "Crossroads Motel, may I help you?" - has become a classic TV phrase.


"It's something that she will always be remembered for among the generation at the time," he told Teletext. "It's quite an honour to be saying those first words."

Crossroads begins on ITV next month.





Crossroads star says show typecast her




Crossroads veteran Jane Rossington says the soap spoiled her chances of having a proper career. The actress claims her long-running appearance in the ITV show left her typecast. She will return as Jill Harvey in the new Crossroads next month.


Jane played the motel manageress in the original version for 24 years. "I did get offered some theatre when it finished and it was exciting at first," she says.


"But then I'd find myself in Weston-super-Mare on a Monday night in November, with the wind blowing, and I thought, 'What am I doing?'"





Crossroads goes head-to-head with Neighbours




Revamped soap Crossroads is to go head-to-head with Neighbours as ITV unveiled the show's lunchtime slot, and the show is to be shown twice daily like its predecessor Home & Away.


Crossroads, which has been revived after it was ditched in the 80s will have a regular 1.30pm showing when it begins on March 6. That means it will be up against Neighbours which begins quarter of an hour later.


ITV had to search for a new daily soap after Channel 5 poached Home & Away. The later screening will begin at 5.05pm and viewers of digital channel ITV2 will be able to see a weekend omnibus. The first two episodes will also be repeated in a one-hour peak-time special on March 6.


Director of programmes at ITV David Liddiment said: "We want to give as many people as possible a taste of what Crossroads is all about."


The new version of the show - formerly renowned for its low budget wobbly sets - sees original cast members Jane Rossington, Tony Adams and Kathy Staff returning.





Crossroads reopens on March 5


The Guardian

Crossroads has been closed to the viewing public for more than 13 years - but patient fans have only just over two weeks to wait for the grand reopening.


ITV has announced the once-reviled soap is to return twice a day from March 5, with a special peaktime airing on March 6 to relaunch the series.


The show will go head to head with BBC1's Neighbours at 1.30pm, with a second helping at 5.05pm. And the network is pulling out all the stops to ensure the show is a hit.  The first two episodes will be rolled together for an hour-long special at 9pm on March 6.  


The soap will open with ex-owner-turned-alcoholic Jill Chance returning to claim her share in the revamped four-star hotel.  "We wanted to give as many people as possible a taste of what Crossroads is all about," said ITV director of programmes David Liddiment.


An aggressive marketing campaign is already under way.


The show is being heavily trailed to peaktime viewers as well as to the core daytime audience.  Carlton, which is making the programme, hopes to attract a wide range of viewers to the show.  "There is something for everyone," claimed series producer Kay Patrick.





Soap sponsored by Surf




Crossroads is to be sponsored by detergent brand Surf. Producers have signed a multi-million pound deal with manufacturer Lever Faberge. The Surf brand will feature on at least 200 episodes, to be shown twice daily. It is aimed at housewives - the soap's main audience. Crossroads returns to ITV five times a week from March 5.