News Archive: March 2001

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March 5th saw Crossroads return to ITV…

 

TV Shows threatened by strike ballot

03-03-2001

Ananova

 

Some of Britain's best known television shows could be hit by production staff threatening strike action over pay. Filming of the revived soap Crossroads may also be disrupted in the dispute over pay at TV company Carlton.

 

Unions are preparing to ballot staff at the company's sites in Birmingham, Nottingham and Abingdon over strike action. If it goes ahead, filming on a variety of shows, including live news programmes and children's television, could be severely hit. The first Crossroads since the show was axed in 1988 goes out on Monday and although about 30 episodes have been made, production has already fallen behind schedule.

 

Trish Lavelle, national officer for BECTU, which is co-ordinating the action with the NUJ and AEEU, says staff were annoyed but were keen to find a solution with management.

 

"It has really angered staff that the company has treated them with such contempt," she said. "There was a time when people in television were paid very well, but what we have seen since Carlton took over is a real erosion of pay. We want to see the level at least kept up with the rate of inflation."

 

Referring to any possible disruption she said: "Our members want programmes like Crossroads to work but they do not want to subsidise this cash-rich company by having lower and lower rates of pay, year on year."

 

 

 

 

 

Soaps at the crossroads

03-03-2001

The Independent

 

The scene: a conference suite at the Great Eastern Hotel on London's Liverpool Street. At least 200 journalists are seated in front of a scattering of television monitors for the launch of the new Crossroads. At the sound of the first notes of Tony Hatch's retained, if rearranged, theme tune, the room erupts in cheers, laughter and applause. A new soap couldn't hope for a better footing - a mix of nostalgic goodwill and brand recognition - nicely primed for some 21st-century gloss and know-how.

 

The original Crossroads vanished from our screens in April 1988 after 4,510 episodes, with Meg Richardson living in America, the 20- chalet-motel renamed Kings Oak Country Hotel, and the bobble-hatted idiot Benny ("Yes, Miss Diane") a fading memory. At its late-1970s zenith, more than 17 million viewers regularly tuned in for their thrice-weekly dose of wobbly scenery and even shakier acting. Some even saw it as a work of camp genius.

 

The new Crossroads has been upgraded from a no-star motel to a four-star hotel; it has a cast of 26, compared to the original cast of eight; and more than half the actors are in their twenties, if not younger. This reflects the soap's likely demographic, which, crudely speaking, is going to be housewives and schoolchildren. Showing five days a week, it is screening twice a day, at 1.30pm and 5.05pm. In other words, it's the new Home and Away, the Australian daytime soap that ITV lost to Channel 5.

 

Channel 5's purchase of Home and Away was interesting in itself as, unlike sporting events, it was the first time a soap had switched TV stations in this country; it was also a reflection of how much simpler it is to take a pre-existing soap than to start one from scratch. Channel 5's Family Affairs (for me, the real Crossroads de nos jours) has had a hell of a time building up its fan base.

 

Meanwhile, ITV is casting yet another soap, the youthful Trafalgar Road ("more Dawson's Creek than Crossroads"), while Greg Dyke has overridden John Birt's blanket refusal to back a fourth EastEnders episode per week. The question arises: how much more can we take? The truth is that "we" are not really part of the equation.

 

As an industry, television is far more ruthless today than it was in 1988. As the British TV schedules become more and more like their American counterparts - that is to say, increasingly identical, with stripped scheduling throwing like against like - each channel is going to feel it needs at least two soaps, while existing dramas (The Bill is a prime example) become more and more soap-like. The losers, of course, will be the makers and consumers of original and inventive drama. Welcome back, Crossroads? I don't think so.

 

`Crossroads' starts on Monday at 1.30pm and 5.30pm on ITV. (Gerard Gilbert)

 

 

 

 

Soap on the ropes

04-03-2001

The Sunday Herald

 

ITV, Monday-Friday, 1.30pm, repeated 5.05pm The resurrected Crossroads is directionless and dead in the water. Our critic has a few reservations

 

TELEVISION executives abhor a vacuum. That's the only reason I can think of for the revival of Crossroads, a show no right-thinking people liked in the first place and which has since been rendered obsolete by the spot-on parody of Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques and the real-life banality of the docu-soap Hotel. I suppose it was either bring back Crossroads or fill that dead air with yet another resprayed Ross Kemp vehicle.

 

To be honest, I didn't really watch Crossroads during its Seventies heyday, although I do remember getting rather hot under the collar when a post-Gregory's Girl Dee Hepburn joined the cast in 1987. So for those of you, like me, who can't get all nostalgic at the thought of wobbly sets and wobblier acting, a brief history lesson.

 

Crossroads began life in 1964 as ATV's response to the success of Coronation Street. It was Britain's first daily soap opera but, by the time it was networked in 1972, had been reduced to four days a week. Rather optimistically, the new Crossroads has been bumped back up to five days.

 

Set in the Midlands town of King's Oak, Crossroads centred on the eponymous motel which was ruled by Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon), an unfeasibly unlucky woman who, in her 17-year tenure, was variously blown up, locked up, cuckolded and poisoned. But, like some service industry Rasputin, Meg never pegged it. She eventually sailed out of the series on the QE2 in 1981.

 

Meg's daughter Jill (Jane Rossington) inherited her mother's Jonah gene. She was married three times (once to a bigamist), had a baby by her stepbrother, suffered two miscarriages, became a junkie, traded that in for alcoholism and had a nervous breakdown. A glutton for punishment, she returns to the new series of Crossroads, drink problem intact. For Jill, those walls are still a-wobbling.

 

While Crossroads was originally a motel, the new setting is a four- star hotel, albeit one which only has cable in the executive suite. It's run by Kate Russell and her son Jake, a handsome cad given to cheating on his wife with the more attractive female guests. He's the Grant Mitchell, the Terry Duckworth, the Marcus Tandy of this tawdry affair.

More hilariously, there's a Scottish chef called Billy. Crossroads used to have a Scottish chef - the gloriously named Shughie McFee - but this one is clearly jelly-moulded after Gordon Ramsay, although it's doubtful that Ramsay would be seen dead in the multi-coloured fez sported by Crossroads kitchen staff . All long locks and short temper, Billy's given to abandoning his post at the carvery if asked to slice beef too thick. It can surely only be a matter of time before he takes a steak knife to Jake, prompting the question, who filleted JR?

 

On the evidence of the first programme, it's doubtful that Crossroads can hope to compete with EastEnders or Corrie. The acting, unlike the cheese it so resembles, has not improved with age - it's still as stilted as a stilton on stilts. The plotlines, meanwhile, as a bland as a stale cracker. The high point of episode one comes when a mysterious young biker is wrestled to the ground by a Brummie called Bradley. It's hardly The Sopranos.

 

Mind you, all soap operas are terrible when they start and remain pretty bad throughout their lifetime. The trick is just to never take it off television and, eventually, the structural cracks get hidden as the show becomes so much wallpaper. Crossroads will survive this pasting. (Peter Ross)

 

 

 

 

New Faces Check in to the Crossroads Motel

04-03-2001

Daily Mail

 

The original series had eight main regular cast members, the new series has 28.

 

New cast:

KATE RUSSELL - Casualty star Jane Gurnett - General Manager, became a single mother to Jake aged 15, she is now married to Patrick, which whom she has two children, Nicola and Mark. Although she is strong and capable, she has a blind spot where Jake is concerned.

 

PATRICK RUSSELL - Neil McCaul, who had just finished a theatre role as Jane Gurnett's husband when he got the part in Crossroads - Catering Manager, Genial and charming, he has been married to Kate for 22 years and is devoted to his children, particularly Nicola.

 

JAKE BOOTH - Colin Wells, starred in the remake of The Professionals - Smarmy Jake is a womaniser who has become bored with his marriage to the attractive Tracey, who he was forced to marry when she became pregnant with their son, Scott.

 

MARK RUSSELL - Grange Hill actor Max Brown - Part-time waiter Mark is 22 and a bit of a slacker who feels he is in the shadow of his charismatic half-brother Jake.

 

NICOLA RUSSELL - clever Julia Burchill who has put her 4 'A' Levels on hold - 15 year old Nicola is a spoilt princess and a Billie Piper lookalike, but has a strong character behind the bratty facade. Her best friend and partner-in-crime is the flirtatious Chloe.

 

TRACEY BOOTH - former Price is Right gameshow hostess Cindy Marshall Day, who is commuting weekly from California to act in Crossroads - Beauty Salon Manager, who adores her husband Jake but has been repeatedly hurt by his infidelity.

SCOTT BOOTH - young actor Keiran Hardcastle - 11 year old Scott feels hurt by his parents squabbling and the fact that his father rarely has time for him due to his burning ambition to own Crossroads.

 

JILL HARVEY - Jane Rossington was in the original series for the full 24 years - Jill is the daughter of Meg Richardson, the original owner of Crossroads, and Jill still owns 30%. She is broken-hearted about the recent death of her husband and her estrangement from daughter Sarah-Jane. She is down on her luck financially and has turned to drink.

 

SARAH-JANE HARVEY - musical star Joanne Farrell - manipulative and sexy Sarah-Jane is a Meg Richardson in the making, who sees the hotel as her birth-right.

 

ADAM CHANCE - Tony Adams, who played the same character in the original series - Jill's ex-husband is still resentful after she walked out on their marriage, destroying his chances of becoming the owner of Crossroads. He is now a seemingly flash wine-merchant.

 

VIRGINIA RAVEN - 'Coronation Street' and 'Barbara' actress Sherrie Hewson - Snobby senior receptionist, Virginia is gossipy and obsessive about protocol. She worships Jake.

 

ROCKY WESSON - Roger Sloman who has had many TV roles in programmes such as The Vicar of Dibley and The Young Ones - lonely Head porter Rocky has been at Crossroads for years and has a long-held crush on Virginia.

 

PHIL BERRY - theatre actor Neil Granger - Leonardo di Caprio type of brooding teenager, 17 year old Phil is a runaway with a dark past who gets taken under Rocky's wing.

 

BRADLEY CLARKE - Luke Walker - Likeable Bradley could not be more different from the original Crossroads handyman, the woolly hatted and woolly-minded Benny. He is in a stable gay relationship with Tom Curtis, cafe manager.

 

DORIS LUKE - Kathy Staff, best known for playing Nora Batty in The Last of the Summer Wine for 28 years, she reprises her role in the original Crossroads - Doris has worked in the laundry at Crossroads for years. She is Bradley's aunt and surrogate mother to Scott Booth.

 

TOM CURTIS - Toby Sawyer was in the Kate Winslet film 'Quills' and had two auditions for the part of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars, Episodes 2 & 3 - Bradley's boyfriend and manager of the KO Cafe in King's Oak. He has been left to bring up his 11 year old brother Daniel after their parents died in a car crash. Mischievous Daniel is best mates with Scott Booth.

 

BILLY TAYLOR - Gilly Gilchrist, Peak Practice actor who also had a role in blockbuster film Gladiator - Fiery head chef works hard and plays hard. He can be very difficult, but he is loyal to manager Kate.

 

JOANNE GIBSON - Rebecca Clarke - Sous chef Joanne, 22, has a love-hate relationship with Billy, she is pretty and hard-working. She is in a relationship with Ray Dobbs.

 

RAY DOBBS - British RSC actor James McKenzie Robinson - Australian head barman, 28. Often the peacemaker in rows amongst the staff.

 

DES WHITE - Marc Jordan who played Gilly Gilchrist's son in Peak Practice. He is also in the Spielberg/Tom Hanks film Band of Brothers - Kitchen porter, 18, Des is a wannabe DJ and loser in love

 

MINTY SUTTON - DJ Peter Dalton - Kitchen assistant, 18, Minty is Des's best friend and another wannabe DJ, who looks more likely to be successful, both in his career and in his love-life.

 

BEENA SHAH - Actress and Toblerone model Rebecca Hazlewood who has had real life experience as a waitress - Beena is determined not to remain a waitress for long, knowing that with her stunning looks she could be a model. She loves being the centre of attention and can be cruel to those who fawn at her feet - mainly Des and Minty.

 

KULLY GILL - GCSE student Sarah Nerwal - Room attendant 16 year old Kully is a bright girl who is doing her 'A' Levels part-time and aspires to be a lawyer.

 

MANDY STOCKS - Natasha Marquiss, who gave up her degree at Nottingham to play the part - Room attendant Mandy, 17, is less bright and more of a romantic, with a crush on barman, Ray. (Clare Smales)

 

 

 

 

Bad service at new Crossroads

05-03-2001

BBC News Online

 

Crossroads re-opened for business with glitz and glamour - but BBC News Online's Darryl Chamberlain will not be paying the hotel a second visit.

 

Despite all the hype about younger stars helping revive Crossroads, the real star of the show was a balding 50-something head porter with a love of watching security cameras.

 

Step forward Rocky Wesson (Roger Sloman), an oasis of calm in the new-look hotel's sea of hormones.

But despite his calming influence, it's obvious from the glimpses of flesh in the opening credits (together with re-worked theme) that the inhabitants of the new Crossroads have just one thing on their minds.

 

Hunky handyman Bradley (Luke Walker) gets a ticking off from boss Kate Russell (Jane Gurnett) for showing too much skin, while her 15-year-old daughter Nicola (Julia Burchell) is throwing herself at thief Phil (Neil Grainger) in the car park.

Meanwhile, everyone's talking about how much they fancy each other - "she was wearing a different sort of bra today!".

In this highly charged atmosphere, it's no wonder that a wedding reception's bridesmaid succumbed to the charms of deputy manager Jake (Colin Wells).

 

Jake had obviously been declared surplus to requirements when C&A shut down, and now he'd gone from modelling sweaters to ordering chefs around and seducing guests.

 

"I need to get out of this dress first, but I seem to have left my key-card in my room," the bridesmaid purred, before Jake produced his trusty magic card.

 

"It opens every room in this hotel," he replied, without any embarrassment whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Bradley was having his own roll in the hay after catching Phil trying to steal some petrol.

The miscreant is dragged to face justice, Rocky-style.

 

But instead of reporting him to the police, Rocky gives Phil a job as a porter, just to humilate him further.

Crossroads stalwart Doris Luke (Kathy Staff) popped up a couple of times, sadly looking like a relic from the days when it was just the sets that were wobbly. But at least she didn't have to talk about lusting after a colleague, so her dignity remained intact.

 

While cheesy storylines and bad scripts don't always stop daytime soaps from being a success, it's hard to see how fights over the meat carving are going to bring in the Hollyoaks audience ITV desires.

Indeed, the endlessly suave Adam Chance (Tony Adams) considered it beneath him to even appear in the first episode, although he appears as a wine dealer later on.

 

Finally Jill Harvey (Jane Rossington) turned up to reclaim her hotel from the Russells, wiping the grin from Jake's face.

Good old Jill looked unimpressed with the hotel's current management, and no wonder - it's going to take a lot of work for her to rescue this establishment.

 

Crossroads can be seen at 1330 and 1705 each weekday on ITV.

 

 

 

 

Check in Here for the new Crossroads Hotel

05-03-2001

Daily Mail

 

At 4.35pm on November 2, 1964, actress Jane Rossington uttered the immortal line 'Crossroads motel, can I help you?' With that, one of television's longest running soaps, Crossroads, was launched, a series which was to become more famous for its shaky sets and wobbly storylines than for any groundbreaking contribution to television drama.

 

While originally attracting record-breaking audiences of up to 18 million, cracks soon began to show in the no-budget-spared soap. Critics scoffed, viewers turned off and in April 1988, Jill and Adam Chance sold off their stake in the Birmingham motel and drove off to start a new life in the West Country.

 

But just when you thought it was safe to reach for the remote, 13 years after the Midlands motel last checked out, Crossroads is back today at 1.30pm and 5.05pm. And after a £10 million revamp, viewers who tuned in last time round to see props fall down and actors fluff their lines might just be disappointed.

 

Gone is Meg Richardson's homely no-star motel. In its place is a four star hotel with executive suites and double rooms costing £110 a night. There's a beauty salon and health spa, cookers in the hotel kitchen which actually work (they were salvaged from the Carlton TV canteen during a recent refit), and Crossroads soap complete with monogrammed towels in the bathrooms.

 

Despite the new look, some things remain unchanged. Actress Jane Rossington returns as Jill Harvey, daughter of Meg Richardson and part owner of the hotel. Kathy Staff gets back into character as the loveable Doris Luke, now employed in the hotel laundry. And waiting in the wings to return later in the series is Tony Adams who plays Adam Chance, Jill Harvey's ex-husband, who still resents losing his chance to become Crossroads owner after Jill walked out on their marriage.

 

Other familiar faces include Sherrie Hewson, better known as Maureen Holdsworth in Coronation Street, who plays brusque receptionist Virginia Raven, and Price Is Right hostess Cindy Marshall-Day, who appears as beauty-salon manager Tracey. Handyman Benny's character has also been resurrected, this time with a 21st century twist - he's now a gay 20-something called Bradley.

 

Carlton's director of drama and co-production Jonathan Powell said: 'We all felt there was a place for Crossroads back on ITV but since we announced its return the public response has been overwhelming. There is a huge amount of affection for Crossroads.

 

'I hope we have taken its spirit and driven it forward so that it will be enjoyed by a whole new generation of viewers.'

 

 

 

 

Crossroads makes comeback

05-03-2001

BBC News Online

 

Nearly 13 years after the death knell sounded for Crossroads it has finally re-opened for business.

The soap returned to UK screens on Monday for what has been a widely anticipated revival.

In its heyday Crossroads attracted an audience of 18 million viewers but was both maligned and revered by fans and critics alike.

 

Once a shabby motel, Crossroads has been upgraded to a four star hotel complete with executive suites and a health spa.

More famous than its characters and its melodramatic storylines were its wobbly sets and fluffed lines.

The show was axed in 1988 after more than 24 years but Carlton Television has taken the brave step of breathing life into the old soap.

 

It will go out in the lunchtime and teatime slots vacated by Aussie soap Home and Away, which was poached by Channel 5.

 

Just three characters have survived the wilderness years.

Jill Richardson, Adam Chance and Doris Luke are being reprised, played by original actors Jane Rossington, Tony Adams and Kathy Staff.

 

Wobbly walls

 

Sherrie Hewson joins the cast as housekeeper Virginia Raven, after leaving Coronation Street in October 1997.

Reliving the nightmare of the shaky sets and shaky acting, Rossington said: "Although it was not live, we would film it as though it was live because of the hectic schedule.

 

"We would record the first half in one take and the same of the second part.

"So if anybody fluffed their lines, missed their cue or the set wobbled it would be kept in."

A bigger investment means the five-night-a-week show should be a slicker product and missing its wobbly walls, say producers.

 

There will also be a younger cast, with many characters in their 20s or under, to appeal to a youth audience

 

 

 

 

Kathy back on TV in Crossroads

05-03-2001

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

 

Veteran actress Kathy Staff is casting off Nora Batty's wrinkled stockings today to return to Crossroads.

Kathy, who has been famous as Nora in the long-running Holmfirth-based Last Of The Summer Wine series, can be seen again in her old role of Doris Luke.

 

The low budget soap classic Crossroads was returning to television screens at 1.30pm today with a new up-market look.

The show, ditched in 1988 after more than 4,500 episodes, also features original cast members Jane Rossington and Tony Adams.

 

The famously creaky sets of Crossroads Motel have been replaced by the four-star Crossroads Hotel, complete with beauty salon, health spa and conference facilities.

 

 

 

 

The Deborah Ross Interview: Back after the break

05-03-2001

The Independent

 

Crossroads. And word association. Me first, because it was my idea and I'm finding it very difficult to contain my excitement, because the Midlands motel soap returns today. Yippee! Hurrah! Here goes: Crossroads. Wobbly sets. Booms caught on camera. The theme music: Dum, dum-dum, de- dum, dum... Teatime. Weekdays. Wagonwheels. Viscounts (mint). Poor Sandy. Always being pushed around. David Hunter. Coloured shirts. White collars. Tip-top plots. Hugh Mortimor's kidnapping. Miss Diane, and her illegitimate baby, which she hid in a chalet drawer. Sandy and his fiancee, who died of a brain tumour. No mind, though, as the following week the same actress cleverly came back in a wig, as the dead woman's twin.

 

Must rein myself in. This is starting to be sentence association. This is starting to be an essay, even. Or a dissertation. Can't help it. Can't stop. Sorry. Am way out of control. Bring back Jim Baines! Loved those Brummie accents. How "actually" was always "ack-she- loi". Everyone sounded as if their batteries were running out. Amy Turtle? Was she, in truth, Amelie Turtlovski, a Russian spy? And, if so, what secrets did she hope to uncover working as a cleaner in a Midlands motel? Did all information on American nuclear warheads have to pass though the linen cupboard at King's Oak?

Oh look, here comes Tony Adams, who played smoothie cad Adam Chance for 11 years, and is back playing him again. I loved Adam Chance, didn't you? And Tony Adams, who looks like the sort of man who should smell of Lynx, even if he doesn't. As does Adam Chance. Hey, it's like Tony doesn't have to act or anything! Whatever, tell me, Tony, was Amy a Russian spy? Was she?

 

"No," he says, "she was not a Russian spy. I don't think she was going anywhere very fast, frankly."

And Sandy? Did he get fed up of being pushed around? "The scriptwriters gave him some disease that they thought was curable, but wasn't. So he had to stay in the wheelchair."

Gosh. Bet he was pissed off about that.

"He once got very angry when a woman hit him in the street." Why did she hit him? "Because he was walking. Because she thought he was a sham."

 

Tony is 60 now. But he looks as smooth and delectably dapper as ever. I tell him so. He says thanks, although he suspects I might be having him on. "I recently made a guest appearance on The Grimleys, and thought I looked rather like Pat from EastEnders. I really did." We both laugh. He can be quite blissfully self-deprecating. I like him from the off.

We meet at the new, pounds 4m Crossroads set at Carlton's television studios in Nottingham, where the new series is being filmed. Sadly, Crossroads is not constructed largely from shaky boards of MDF anymore. Crossroads is now a swanky, four-star hotel. Crossroads now has a beauty spa and gym and landscaped gardens with water features and working lifts and a working kitchen and a chic restaurant and all that. Gosh, what would Meg have thought? "She'd have absolutely loved it," says Tony.

 

I'm not sure I love it, though. Disappointingly, it all looks horribly solid and nailed down. I say "disappointingly" because, of course, what made Crossroads so good was the fact it was so bad. Thrillingly bad, almost. It would be awful if it came back as not bad enough. Still, I am cheered by the fact that during my tour of the set - I get to "ping" the bell at reception and everything! - I steal one of the flyers offering business customers a great deal. It says: "...check into Crossraods [sic]... and you will receive a wide ramge [sic] of extras and privileges". So, no wobbly sets, but wobbly spelling at least. Which is hopeful. Plus, I do like a hotel that offers a wide ramge of extras, don't you? (Once, apparent-loi, Miss Diane and Meg had to have an intimate chat while Mrs Brownlow was Hoovering noisily in the background, because a scriptwriter had misspelled "hovering".)

 

But will the scriptwriters carry on with the great tradition of paying no regard whatsoever to continuity?

 

Tony and I somehow end up playing this as a game of one- upmanship. I start: "Didn't Glenda Brownlow go to the toilet and never come back?"

"Yes. But what about Shughie McFee?"

"Shughie McFee? The chef?"

"He went to get a pork chop from the fridge, and was never seen again."

"OK, then. How about when Roger Tonge [the actor who played Sandy] died in real life? Didn't they get round it by just never mentioning Sandy again?"

"Yes. I was written out once. Went to get my script for the following week on the Wednesday as usual, and it wasn't there. So I phoned the producer and said: `Mags, I haven't got a script for next week.' And she said. `No, dear, you finish next week.' And that was the end of me for a year."

"How did they write you out?"

"Don't remember. Probably, they didn't."

"How did they write you back in?"

"I think I just reappeared as casually as I'd disappeared."

See? See? Marvellous stuff.

 

I ask Tony how he heard the show was returning. "Oh, there have always been rumours. Like a bad meal, it was always coming back." How did you hear for certain? It was Jane Rossington (who played Meg's daughter Jill, and is also coming back) who told him. "She rang me up to say, darling, I've got the first scripts, and you are in them." Did you have to think twice about returning? "Not at all, not at all. I'd have been a bloody fool not to come back."

 

He's right - probab-loi. The show originally ran from 1964 to 1988, attracting an average audience of 16 million. Sixteen million! "It was the mother of all soaps," says Tony. Plus, I say, there is still great affection for it, isn't there? "Oh, yes. When we had the press launch, and the theme music started up, 220 people clapped and cheered." Do you still get

recognised? "All the time. I went out for lunch the other day and this woman came up to me and said: `I played Sandy's nurse when Sandy was first ill.' She wanted to tell me how she loved the old Crossroads." Tony doesn't feel he's been typecast.

 

"Adam has been my passport to the theatre. I've been Henry Higgins. I've been Von Trapp. I've done pantomime with the Chuckle Brothers. I've been on the Gary Wilmot show..." Stop! Please!

 

It's odd, ack-she-loi, meeting someone like Tony, be- cause at no time have you ever suspected that he's a real person with a real life and real things to talk about. It's like he must be this cardboardy thing, without much else going on. But he's very charming and lovely. And interesting, too. I particularly like the sound of his mother, Winifred. What was she like? "A dinosaur. She did what she wanted, never allowing anything to get in her way." What sort of things did she do? "Well, she won the King's Cup Air Race in 1930, flying a light aircraft around England." Oh. "In 1938, she sailed a boat to the edge of the Arctic Circle. The next year, she navigated a boat to the upper reaches of the Amazon." Oh. "She took up tennis, and was soon playing for England. She took up ice hockey, the only trouble being she couldn't skate, so she knelt in goal. For England." Oh! What an amazing woman. "Yes. I once asked Clare Francis why my mother wasn't more famous, and she said it was because she diversified too much." I know this sounds unlikely. It may even be as unlikely as, say, mute receptionists endlessly handing over keys to mute guests. I mean, how did anyone know what chalet they were in?

 

Tony was told he was the result of "a wet afternoon on a coil of rope in the boathouse". He never knew his father, "although I had an idea who he was". But you never pursued it? "It just didn't matter to me." Tony was bought up initially on boats. "My mother was full of surprises. I would wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what the hell was going on. I'd look out the porthole and see we were at sea. She'd have cast the boat off and out we were and I wouldn't have a clue where we were going." She wanted Tony to join the Navy. Named him Anthony Adams so he could be Admiral Anthony Adams, which she thought had a nice ring about it. But you ended up as Adam Chance in Crossroads instead. Was she, um, disappointed?

 

"One day we were on the quay at Brighton marina - she was an old lady - and I heard some people call out to her `Are you Mrs Chance?', and she said: `Yes. Yes, I am Mrs Chance.' So I think she was proud."

 

He always wanted to be an actor. He can't remember why. He auditioned for the Italia Conti School at eight with a poem learned from his mother. He recites it: "There was a little bird/ who flew away to Spain/ but found it was too hot there/ so flew back home again. On the homeward journey/ he met a bleeding auk/ who plucked his bleeding feathers out and said: `Now, you bugger, walk'." And they let you in? "I think I startled them into letting me in," he says.

 

He lives, now, on the south coast, with his partner, Christine and their Jack terrier, Ryan. He has never yearned for children, or to play Macbeth. "I've never considered myself a proper actor, which is why I have no burning ambition to go to the Barbican or the National. I couldn't do it." He is enjoying the new Crossroads immensely. "It's a wonderful atmosphere. The new kids are so enthusiastic." He is genuinely fulfilled, I think. And happ-oi.

 

Here I go again. Miss Diane - wasn't she an alcoholic for a week? Shughie McFee - what would he think of the chic new restaurant? Would he faint into his melon boats? Dum, dum-dum, de-dum, dum...

 

`Crossroads', ITV, daily at 1.30pm and then repeated at 5.05pm

 

 

 

 

Crossroads Hailed a Success

06-03-2001

Daily Mail

 

The new-look Crossroads was hailed a great success by TV critics today as it returned to our screens after a 12-year absence.

 

The famously wobbly sets of the Crossroads Motel have been replaced by an up-market four-star hotel - and the critics unanimously agreed that the show was virtually unrecognisable from its predecessor.

 

The Daily Mail said: 'This is very good, well-conceived and well-executed television which will appeal to both diehard fans and newcomers alike.'

 

The Guardian said: 'As daytime soaps go, it is polished, promising and prettily packaged. And not a syllable of that sounds like Crossroads.'

 

The Independent added: 'Viewers who remember the old premises as the Motel You'd Least Like to Spend a Night In (Okay, Apart From The One in Psycho) must have been amazed at how swish it has become.'

 

The Times described the programme as 'altogether slicker' than in its previous incarnation, while The Telegraph said it was 'pretty sturdy' and The Express praised its 'well-handled' plots and characterisation.

 

The Mirror went further: 'On the evidence of the first 30 minutes, this is a confident, pacey, funny, sexy little soap which could wash the BBC's tired old Neighbours down the plughole.'

 

The Sun declared: 'Crossroads has got success written all over it. The old dump has improved since we saw it last in 1988. They've made it a palace fit, if not for a king, then certainly for Alan Partridge.'

 

The first episode ended with the return of original cast member Jane Rossington, who plays co-owner Jill Harvey.

 

* Unofficial overnight viewing figures revealed that 2.1 million viewers tuned into the lunchtime episode of Crossroads while 3 million watched the teatime repeat. ITV chiefs hailed it 'a great start'.

 

 

 

 

Three million watch new Crossroads, say ITV

06-03-2001

Ananova

 

Unofficial viewing figures for the new-look Crossroads reveal 2.1 million viewers tuned into the first lunchtime episode.

And 3 million watched the teatime repeat.

 

But the new-look programme failed to tempt viewers from rival BBC's long established Aussie soap, Neighbours.

A spokesman for ITV said it was a great start for the revamped soap.

 

"We are delighted viewers have welcomed Crossroads back to their screens," he said.

 

The lunchtime installment from Ramsey Street had 2.6 million viewers and the teatime edition had 4.4 million.

The second edition of yesterday's Crossroads also went up against the end of Blue Peter which had 1.9 million viewers and Newsround which got 3 million.

 

An insider at the BBC said: "This seems to be a very shaky start for the programme with famously shaky sets. ITV must be disappointed with these figures because they have put a huge amount of promotional effort into the launch of Crossroads."

 

But an ITV spokesman dismissed the remarks stating it was unfair to compare the two as Neighbours was a long-running programme with an established audience.

 

Crossroads was brought back to replace the Australian soap Home And Away which was poached from ITV by Channel 5 last year.

 

But the opening of the Crossroads doors did not prove as big a pull as the goings on in Summer Bay which regularly attracted 4 million viewers in its teatime slot.

 

Its final appearance on ITV in June last year saw 4.3 million viewers tune in, representing a 39% share of the audience.

Home and Away will return to our screens on Channel 5 in the summer.

 

 

 

 

Comments from Brian Park - Ex-Corrie Producer

06-03-2001

The Sun

 

I'd definitely watch it again. On first impressions it is ambitious, energetic and it has good production values, reflected in the lighting and camera work.

 

They are certainly putting their where their mouth is. It was very adventurous, if not audacious, to introduce 30 characters in the first episode.

 

Some look interesting immediately although you can't get much character depth in a 30 minute episode.

At that rate, nobody gets much more than five lines.

 

It was a broad sweep and a successful one at that.

 

At that time of the day it is having to appeal to two fairly contradictory fan bases.

One is the home and Away crowd who are youth orientated and into the teenage romance.

The plotline of the guy on the motorbike and the kiss with the stranger will hook them.

Then there's the fans who remember Crossroads the first time round. And there are old faces among the new to appeal to them.

 

It was good to see Jane Rossington make her entrance towards the end and fans who remember Crossroads first time round will have appreciated that.

 

The motel has become a hotel with CCTV cameras that weren't even there 30 years go when it was last launched.

 

But the ultimate test is if people across the generations will watch it. I know my mum will start to watch it as well as me, so they've done the trick so far.

 

 

 

 

First Night: Lots of froth and plenty of dirty linen as new, improved Crossroads returns

06-03-2001

The Independent

 

GIVEN ITS status as a classic British television soap, how apt that the new, improved Crossroads is being sponsored by Surf washing powder. The first episode of its new incarnation offered 30 minutes of churning activity, a lot of froth, a fair amount of dirty linen and several characters in a temporary spin.

 

As the TV-watching world knows, Crossroads closed for business in 1988 after a 24-year reign, in which it had become legendary for its coarse, one-take acting and painted-chipboard production style. Despite much public demand that it be buried in a lead-lined casket and forgotten until Judgement Day, Jonathan Powell and his colleagues at Carlton Drama deemed it worth a pounds 10m refit and a move upmarket. The old motel had no stars, deservedly; the new hotel boasts four stars, despite having a water feature that suggests several small urchins are vigorously peeing through a Perspex wall.

 

Viewers who remember the old premises as the Motel You'd Least Like to Spend a Night In (Okay, Apart From the One in Psycho) must have been amazed at how swish it has become. There are security cameras, beauty salons and Thai fishcakes. The rickety old reception desk has been replaced by a pine high altar, manned by the refined glamourpuss Sherrie Hewson (last seen in Coronation Street). The kitchen is the size of the River Cafe, run by Billy, the volatile head chef, who yells at the management and humiliates his staff by making them wear ludicrous tartan pillbox hats. Where the old motel would have been stretched to host a three-man stag party, the new hotel lays on a wedding reception for 100 (mostly invisible) guests. Why, you could almost imagine the cast of a Seventies American soap such as Dynasty actually deigning to spend an afternoon here. And so hands-on is the management style, so urgent is their desire to make the staff-guest ratio more one-on-one, that the oily, unscrupulous deputy manager, Jake, is soon upstairs introducing a sexy guest to his multi- purpose master key.

 

Sex seems likely to be a key ingredient in this five-times-a-week show. Sex and ambition, sex and money, sex and disputed shareholdings, sex and towel maintenance, but mostly sex. It is partly because half the 26-strong cast are in their twenties or younger (a very determined bit of audience- targeting) and partly due to a cleverly evoked atmosphere of things-about- to-happen. Crossroads Hotel is where spoilt 15-year-old girls ask total strangers "Fancy a snog?", where the chambermaids dream of marriage, the kitchen porters discuss the waitress's new bra, and Jake's dastardly attempts to wrest control of the place from his mother will always be thwarted by his howling satyriasis.

Even the alfresco moments seem charged with lust. When the swarthy gay handyman Bradley (a welcome replacement for that woolly-titfered halfwit Benny) chases a young petrol-robber and rugby-tackles him to the ground, you almost expect him to inquire "Fancy a snog?" as well.

 

Bradley is the possessor of the only authentic Brummie accent in this Tower of Babel. The barman is Australian, the chef is Scottish, the waitress is Iranian, the housekeeper (the admirable Kathy Staff, formerly of the Crossroads kitchen) is broad Yorkshire, the new porter is a Geordie, and Kate the hotel's owner (Jane Gurnett, who used to be Rachel in Casualty), appears to have dropped in from Bristol.

 

All the mix'n'matching of veteran actors, accents, plotlines and upstairs- downstairs character-drawing may suggest an over- determined drama, desperate to appeal to everybody. Well, yes it is, actually, but it is still a hoot. And though the scenery doesn't wobble any more, there is a spindly staircase whose banisters look a bit iffy.

 

 

 

 

Comments from Sue Lloyd - Ex-Crossroads Star

06-03-2001

The Sun

 

The new series started off too fast. It was much too racy and seemed to go at 70mph, jumping from scene to scene.

The actors had a very hard job trying to establish their characters, with only a couple of lines per scene.

 

In spite of that, they all did very well, considering. I just think it all needs to settle down and relax a little bit, and I am sure it will.

 

I fear that there are too many young faces.

 

The characters are all the same kind of age. There needs to be more variation.

The scenery has improved .

 

When we started recording the old series we were working on a nasty purple set and then you could never get proper lighting.

 

The new hotel is much smarter and glossier.

 

I loved their red jackets and uniforms. They have obviously spent a lot of money on lighting and scenery.

I also liked the new sex scenes - although they were all over a bit quickly!

 

It was brilliant to see some of the old faces, including Jane Rossington, but there should be more of them. It is a great shame that Benny isn't in it. He was an institution. Everyone loved him and he created that fantastic role himself.

I haven't been approached, but I would be happy to return for a stint, as long as the storyline was good

 

 

 

 

'Slick' Crossroads a hit with critics

06-03-2001

BBC News Online

 

TV critics have been pleasantly surprised by the revamped soap Crossroads after tuning in on Monday for the first show in 13 years.

 

Although Carlton Television has invested millions in resurrecting the daytime soap, TV pundits were hoping the walls still wobbled and the phone rang after it was picked up.

 

But the first showing of Crossroads at 1330 GMT reached an audience 2.2 million, while 2.7 million watched the popular Australian soap Neighbours on BBC One at 1345 GMT.

 

However the later Crossroads showing attracted 2.6m viewers at 1705 GMT, with 3.8 million tuning into Neighbours at 1735 GMT.

 

Critics tuned in to ITV on Monday to see how a 13-year absence had changed the old motel.

Ben Walters of The Express said: "What a disappointment. Thanks to its double-edged heritage as the epitome of pap, the refurbished motel soap was only going to be any good if it was really bad. But yesterday's show turned out to be distressingly solid."

 

Agreeing, Charlie Catchpole in The Mirror said: "What have they done to Crossroads?

"It's a total travesty. An utter disgrace.

"They've completely ruined one of TV's legendary landmark programmes.

"They've made it good.

"Not in a jokey 'so bad it's good' sort of way. But in a good as in, well... good.

"On the evidence of the first 30 minutes, this is a confident, pacey, funny, sexy little soap which could wash the BBC's tired old Neighbours down the plughole."

 

Nancy Banks-Smith of The Guardian has long been a proud Crossroads fan and was delighted with its return.

She said: "As daytime soaps go, it is pretty polished, promising and prettily packaged. And not a syllable of that sounds like Crossroads."

 

Joe Joseph of The Times thinks it may have been a mistake to make it look too professional.

He writes: "The new Crossroads is altogether slicker. Maybe too slick.

"The producers are clearly taking a gamble, since viewers' affection and nostalgia for the show largely rests on its amateurishness."

 

And Garry Bushell in The Sun raved about the resurrection: "The new Crossroads has got success written all over it.

"We haven't seen much of dear old Doris Luke but just hearing the new version of that famous Tony Hatch theme tune will have made millions smile.

 

"We can but hope the soap-crazed BBC don't try to hit back by resurrecting Albion Market."

 

 

 

 

...and the set didn't even wobble once!

06-03-2001

The Sun

 

Crossroads returned to TV screens yesterday for the first time in 13 years following a £10 million revamp.

The soap was known for wobbly sets and plots that were even wobblier - but the motel saga boasted 18million viewers at it's peak when it ran from 1964 to 1988.

 

In the new Millennium it has a sexy cast and has gone up market. But will it earn the right to battle with Eastenders and Corrie - or again become a national joke? Here are the verdicts on show one of Sun TV critic Gary Bushell, former Corrie producer Brian Park, Sue Lloyd, who played Barbara Hunter in the original, and the soap's number one fan, Peter Kingsman.

 

A little piece of TV history was made yesterday as Crossroads came back to life, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of soap legend.

 

And the first face we saw was head-porter Rocky Wesson - grabbing a crafty kip.

Face number two was scarier, belonging to Kate Russell, the hotel's new general manager who is both world weary and efficient.

 

The old dump has improved since we saw it last in 1988.

 

They've made it a palace fit, if not for a king, then certainly for Alan Partridge. But what impressed most was the tight economy of Deborah Cook's opening script. She had umpteen characters to introduce and crucial relationships to establish and managed it with ease.

 

Above all, ITV have remembered the first rule of soap: thou shalt not omit adultery. Randy deputy manager Jake Booth is married to long-suffering health spa boss Tracey but that didn't stop him making a beeline for a beautiful brunette bridesmaid.

 

Before long, he was enjoying some extra-marital heaven in room 207.

Once it was David Hunter who copped off with the guests, now it's Jake the Peg with his over-active middle leg.

Billy the temperamental Scottish chef (is there any other kind?) stormed off rather than be "a performing monkey" carving meat for wedding guests.

 

Phil the teenage tear away tried to nick petrol, only for gay handyman Bradley to tackle him forcefully from behind.

The kid is sure to stay, he already has the start of an Upstairs Downstairs thing going with Kate's teenage daughter Nicola, a proper little madam.

 

While Asian Babe waitress Beena Shah is lusted after by pilfering kitchen staff Des and Minty.

Naturally, ITV saved the big bombshell till last. Jill Harvey (Jane Rossington), who said the soap's closing line in '88, still owns a 30 percent share of the hotel. She has moved into an executive suite and she's not going to sell.

Today we learn she's also a man-hungry lush and by next Monday she's in hospital after a murderous cocktail of drink and drugs.

 

Sherrie Hewson is going to be a scream as snooty receptionist Virginia Raven. And Rocky (Roger Sloman) is already my favourite, boring everyone with his "When I was at the Hilton..." anecdotes.

 

The new Crossroads has got success written all over it. We haven't seen much of dear old Doris Luke but just hearing the new version of that famous Tony Hatch theme tune will have made millions smile.

 

But we can hope the soap-crazed BBC don't try to hit back by resurrecting Albion Market.

 

 

 

 

Crossroads makes steamy comeback

06-03-2001

Media Guardian

 

The reincarnation of Crossroads Motel as Crossroads Hotel has not pleased all the critics. For Charlie Catchpole of the Mirror, it's a refit too far.

"It's a total travesty. An utter disgrace," claimed the affronted critic. "They've completely ruined one of TV's legendary landmark programmes."

 

The problem is, it's just too damn good to be Crossroads.

And the Sun's Garry Bushell agreed. "The set didn't even wobble once" shrieked the page six headline.

Both critics were taken with the speed it took the writers of the new-look Crossroads to introduce some sex as the lantern-jawed deputy manager Jake Booth (Colin Wells) absconded into a bedroom with a gorgeous young bridesmaid - in the middle of the wedding celebrations.

 

And Mr Bushell has already taken a liking to head porter Rocky Wesson with his "When I was at the Hilton" anecdotes.

Most of the critics - including former Coronation Street producer Brian Park writing in the Sun - thought the Carlton production team had expertly handled the introduction of 30 new characters in the first episode.

Gone are the drab 1970s soft-furnishings to make way for a slick new reception area, a water feature and - to the Independent's horror - Thai fishcakes. This is definitely a rebranded hotel for the 21st century.

And there was more sex in the first 30 minutes than in Crossroads' previous 24-year history, with all of the young, glamorous characters veritably pulsating with hormones.

 

As the Sun declared, "the old dump has improved since we saw it last in 1988. They've made it a palace fit, if not for a king, then certainly for Alan Partridge."

The Times described the programme as "altogether slicker" than in its previous incarnation while the Telegraph described it as "pretty sturdy".

 

The well-publicised gay handyman Bradley Clarke managed to imbue his tussle with a young petrol thief with enough lust to put Blake and Alexis to shame.

On the other hand, there is enough soap history to please the real trainspotters.

 

Crossroads veteran Jill Harvey has been dusted down and moved to an executive suite. Played by Jane Rossington, she had the closing line of Crossroads back in 1988 and appropriately cropped up in one of the closing scenes last night.

But, as Jaci Stephen of the Mail pointed out, such is the stress "it takes her only until episode two to hit the bottle".

Some of the new actors are household favourites, such as Kathy "Norah Batty" Staff as Doris Luke and former Corrie star Sherrie Hewson in a new, glamorous guise.

 

On the basis of first impressions, it's too good to be true. As Jaci Stephen observes: "Meg Richardson will doubtless be turning in her grave - not least because of the extra cash Carlton has thankfully ploughed into the remake."

And the Mirror's Mr Catchpole? "On the evidence of the first 30 minutes, this is a confident, pacey, funny, sexy little soap which could wash the BBC's Neighbours down the plughole."

 

 

 

 

Take two

06-03-2001

This is York (From the Evening Press)

 

It's the same old theme tune - but spruced up and much less tacky. There's a glossy, new feel too: the sets don't shake, and the Crossroads Motel has been upgraded to the four-star Crossroads Hotel. But at least fans of the original Crossroads didn't have to put up with any advertising puff for the sponsors which now precedes too many prime-time shows on commercial TV.

 

In the case of new Crossroads, it's Surf - a square deal washing powder that seems strangely at odds with the resurrected soap's glitzy new image.

 

One person who was impressed by the new-look Crossroads despite its Surfy wrapping, was 59-year-old housewife and mother of two grown-up children Pauline Johns.

 

Pauline, from Stockton-on-the-Forest, admits she enjoyed the soap in its early days first time around. One of the big attractions, she says, was the motel (or hotel) setting.

 

"When I was younger, working in a hotel was one of the things I would have been quite interested in doing," she admits. "It's a good place for a soap. They're never going to be short of storylines."

The new Crossroads opened with a glitzy wedding reception - and the son of the hotel's general manager seducing one of the guests in a hotel bedroom. Pauline's verdict?

 

"I enjoyed it," she says. "I think it was a very good idea to introduce it with a special celebration like a wedding. My first reaction was that they have chosen a dashing fellow (Colin Wells as Jake Booth, hotel manager Kate Russell's philandering son) who's going to catch on with the females. He's very attractive, but right away he's obviously not faithful to his wife. He's going to be one of the baddies."

 

Jake has also, Pauline notes after just the first episode, clearly got ambitions on running the hotel himself. His mum had better look out.

 

She's intrigued, too, by Neil Grainger as Phil Berry, a mysterious young man on a motorcycle who turns up at the hotel trying to steal petrol, and is promptly offered a job as a porter. And the ending of the first episode - in which Jane Rossington's Jill Harvey, daughter of original motel matriarch Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon) turns up out of the blue to claim her inheritance - was a real jaw-dropper, Pauline says.

 

The biggest difference between the new-look Crossroads and the original - apart from a gesture towards multi-culturalism in the form of a number of ethnic-minority hotel employees - is the money. Crossroads mark one was famous for its shaky sets and wooden acting. The sets, at least, don't shake second time around.

 

"It's very glossy," admits TV consultant Chris Wood, director of York-based film and video production company W3KTS. "It's much glossier than either EastEnders or Coronation Street."

 

Pauline likes that. She confesses she was never a big fan of Coronation Street. She did watch EastEnders in its early days, but says it `got depressing' and admits she's more of a sucker for the glossier soaps. She was a big Dallas fan at first, until it got too over the top, then she switched her allegiance to Neighbours and the Dallas spin-off Dynasty.

What she's looking for in a soap, she says, is a `bit of escapism' - humour and romance, and not too much violence. "They have to reflect life, but I don't think when a lot of people sit down to the TV they really want that. Crossroads is quite light, but I don't want anything too heavy."

 

She's pleased, too, with the scheduling: daily on weekdays at 1.30pm, repeated at 5.05pm, with an `omnibus' edition at 9pm on Tuesday. "That's a good idea," she says. "Not everybody who really wants to follow it can watch at the same time."

 

Chris Wood agrees it is a clever piece of scheduling. There is a huge lunchtime audience, especially among older people, he says - and the 5.05pm screening is ideally timed to catch the post-Countdown audience.

After the first episode, Pauline is certainly looking forward to keeping up with events at the Crossroads Hotel.

She's `done her bit' now that her grown-up children have left home, she says. "There's a bit of time for me now. So I should be able to sit down and watch Crossroads and I'll be interested to see how it progresses."

* Crossroads is on ITV every weekday at 1.30pm, repeated at 5.05pm. There is also an omnibus edition on Tuesday at 9pm

 

 

 

 

Neighbours bypass Crossroads

07-03-2001

The Telegraph

 

THE first episode of Crossroads, ITV's resurrected daytime soap, was watched by a third of lunchtime viewers but still failed to beat Neighbours on BBC1.

 

Crossroads, which generally impressed critics who remembered the shaky sets and bad acting of the original version, won 2.1 million viewers compared to 2.6 million for Neighbours on its first showing at lunchtime. A teatime repeat attracted 3 million compared to 4.4 million for Neighbours and 4.7 million for The Weakest Link on BBC2.

 

ITV said it was the best lunchtime viewing figure for 15 months, although BBC insiders claimed it was a "shaky start for shaky walls".

 

 

 

 

Crossroads wobbles in the ratings

07-03-2001

Ananova

 

Crossroads has pulled in fewer viewers on its second day.

 

The newly revived soap drew an audience of 2.6 million for its early evening slot, down 400,000 on its Monday debut.

The lunchtime show was down by the same number, drawing 1.7 million.

 

The 5.05pm screening drew the same number of viewers as Channel 4's Pet Rescue, which was shown at the same time.

A one-off omnibus edition of the first two episodes drew just 4.7 million viewers at 9pm. This compared with BBC1's In Deep drama, for which 6.7 million tuned in.

 

 

 

 

Benny disappointed not to be in new show

10-03-2001

Ananova

 

The actor who played Benny in Crossroads says he is disappointed he is not in the new show.

The soap returned to TV screens this week after being axed in 1988.

Paul Henry played Benny for 13 years.

 

"I'm disappointed I'm not in the new show so far," Henry told the Daily Mail.

 

"It's strange that it's me everyone's ringing up to ask about the new show, It's the name of Benny which is giving it the greatest publicity, even though I'm not in it.

 

"I've still got the woolly hat in the attic somewhere."

 

 

 

 

Justified Anger

10-03-2001

The Spectator

 

…The new, sexy Crossroads (ITV) with self-standing sets began this week. (My brother Paul Hoggart of the Times, a partner in Hoggart & Hoggart, Television Critics to the Quality, once visited the old set and says that the scenery really did shake if you touched it.) It was a bit like that Fawlty Towers the Americans tried to make without the Basil character. I enjoyed it more than I expected, though in a sort of post-- ironic way, whatever that means. I liked spotting the clunkiest lines. Rocky: `They told me it's going to be tough, it's all down to you. Still, I've never been one to shy away from a challenge,' was one. Or the wicked, womanising Jake Booth: `If we play our cards right, next year we can be running this place.'

 

The jokes, too: `That's the new porter.' `Mmm, he can carry my bags any time!' Or, `Would you like to come out with me on Friday?' `I'd rather die.' `So, how about Thursday?'

 

I like the clumsy way little nods are made at the past. `Oh, the famous Meg Richardson! You know, people still talk about her!' someone improbably said. Even the new Crossroads four-star hotel, upgraded from the world's worst motel, is horribly familiar. You can see the individual sachets of Nescafe and UHT milk on the hot drinks tray, and the trouser press, designed to make a crease almost parallel to the one already there.

 

My main anxiety is that there is nobody there to like. They're all either bossy, or lecherous, or thieving, or drunk, or ill-tempered, or incompetent, or scheming, or nasty prissy little madams, or sometimes a combination of all those. Every soap, even Dallas, needs someone for us to identify with, or sympathise with, or even like, and I can't yet see one here.

(Simon Hoggart)

 

 

 

 

Down the tube: Wry Beena makes a wobbly start with Crossroads

11-03-2001

Sunday Mirror

 

UNLIKE most TV critics I watched all five episodes of Crossroads (ITV, Daily) because I wanted to give it a fair Adam - that's "chance" to those of you who don't speak Crossroads non-rhyming slang.

And while it's true the sets are no longer wobbly, all the other howlers for which Crossroads is fondly remembered soon showed themselves.

 

My favourite came when Jill slapped Jake on Thursday...and the sound effect was so late it still hadn't arrived by Friday.

On Wednesday Kate announced: "I think it's important that we start acting as a family." No, no Kate. First, you need to start acting.

 

While it's not fair to single anyone out, Rebecca Hazlewood (Beena) deserves special mention for being particularly bad.

There's no denying she has lovely hair, but that was no reason to spend the whole week acting as if she was in a shampoo ad.

 

She was almost beaten by Tracey (Cindy Marshall-Day), who spent most of the week lowering her cleavage but managed to shine with the silliest line I've heard in soap since Fizz was allowed to speak in Eldorado.

"I may be stupid," she said. "But I'm not dumb."

 

Who needs Benny? (Ian Hyland)

 

 

 

 

Crossroads fans threaten boycott over Jill death

17-03-2001

Ananova

 

Fans of TV soap Crossroads are threatening to boycott the show if Jane Rossington's character Jill Richardson is killed off. They say the veteran actress is what makes Crossroads so good and have begun a 'Save Our Jill' campaign to make producers change their minds.

 

It is rumoured that Jill Richardson will be involved in a tragic car crash to boost ratings. A spokesman for the Crossroads fan club said viewers will ditch the show if Jill goes. He told Ananova: "Jill's part of the fixtures and fitting of Crossroads but they've only used her for the pre-show publicity. She's a seasoned professional with the ability to pass on the tricks of the trade to a lot of the young and inexperienced actors. If she leaves, so do we."

 

 

 

 

Down the tube: Crossroads Jill's an unconscious talent

18-03-2001

Sunday Mirror

 

WEEK two and Crossroads Hotel is still standing. And it was high drama all week as Jill recovered from her drugs and vodka binge (ITV, Daily)

 

"Jill's on the mend - she's not unconscious anymore," someone announced on Wednesday. I'm glad they did because Jane Rossington (Jill) is so subtle an actress _ I have to admit the difference between unconscious and conscious was too slight for me to spot. Newly awake, Jill set about appeasing her long-lost daughter Sarah Jane.

 

"I'm sorry I had to put you through all this. What a terrible way for us to meet after all these years," Jill told her, although she could easily have been addressing any younger viewers who were witnessing the show for the first time.

 

But I don't care about that. All I want to know is whether Hayley is aware that Roy Cropper has taken to wearing women's clothes and working as a cleaner at Crossroads under the name Doris? (Ian Hyland)

 

 

 

 

Crossroads

25-03-2001

Sunday Mirror

 

IT looks like they are heading for a nasty accident at the Crossroads. The born-again soap is slipping so badly in the ratings that some ITV insiders predict it will be axed within three months. After just three weeks on air the viewing figures are down to 14 per cent of the tea-time audience, only just above the 12 per cent that led to the demise of Public Property - one of the shows that used to occupy the same slot.

 

 

 

 

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