News Archive: March 2002



Can ITV soaps make it through the day?


The Guardian


ITV daytime soaps Crossroads and Night and Day are fighting for their future, as ITV prepares to gives its daytime schedule a makeover.


Liam Hamilton, the daytime chief who returned to ITV two months ago, plans to radically reshape the channel's daytime output in the face of disastrous ratings.


And he has postponed a new commissioning round while trying to decide whether the two ailing soaps should be given another chance or killed off altogether.


"We need time to look at all the options," said an ITV spokesman.

But ITV is understood to have pencilled in the end of March as the deadline by which to decide on the future of the soaps.

"Liam wouldn't have been brought in to do the job if a root and branch overhaul of ITV daytime wasn't needed," said a senior ITV source.


The source added it was "highly likely" ITV would try to resolve the thorny issue of Crossroads and Night and Day before the next commissioning round.


Crossroads, the revamped version of the long-running ITV daytime drama, and Night and Day, aimed at south-eastern upwardly mobile sophisticates - have both failed to set the schedules alight.


Average audiences for Crossroads are about 1 million for its lunchtime edition and 2 million for the early evening edition, while Night and Day averages just over 1 million viewers per episode.


Mr Hamilton is introducing a new nostalgia quiz show presented by Matthew Kelly to the ITV1 teatime schedule, which is currently dominated by the two soaps.


Never Had it So Good, a Yorkshire Tyne Tees show, is expected to go out daily from around the time of the football World Cup in May.






ITV At a Crossroads Over Crossroads


Media Guardian


ITV could be left without a cast for its afternoon soap Crossroads if it doesn't hurry up and recommission it. ITV is due to make a decision about whether or not to recommission struggling daytime soap Crossroads in the next month.


The network has delayed ordering more episodes of the Carlton-produced soap for so long that options ([contracts]) on the majority of the cast have lapsed, leaving them free to seek other work. If they sign up to other productions Carlton may not be able to secure them for further episodes, leaving the show in limbo.


A senior Carlton insider said: 'If the actors have found other work then that's tough. We don't have any contracts as there currently is no show. The cast are out of their options at the moment and some have taken short-term theatre contracts while we're waiting to hear [whether Crossroads is recommissioned by Network Center]. But this doesn't necessarily prevent us going back into production. The cast have shown a willingness to return.'


Carlton ceased production of Crossroads on 28 March, but left ITV with a surplus of episodes to run until August. However, it is still incurring costs as it has studio space devoted to it in its Nottingham production centre. Axing Crossroads would threaten the studios' future as the soap takes up the bulk of production.


ITV has already axed Granada soap Night and Day. Both Night and Day and Crossroads have garnered disappointing ratings in comparison to ITV's previous daytime soap, Australian import Home and Away. Crossroads returned in March 2001 with 2 million viewers at lunchtime and 3 million at teatime. But recently the show has only been averaging 0.8 million at 1.40pm and 2.4 million at 5.30pm.


An ITV spokeswoman said: 'Actors contracts are a production issue for Carlton to deal with.'





ITV at crossroads over soap  


The Guardian


ITV is due to make a decision about whether or not to recommission struggling daytime soap Crossroads in the next month.


Carlton actually ceased production on the show, which goes out at 1.40pm and 5.30pm four times a week on ITV1, at the end of March.


But by then the company had already delivered enough Crossroads episodes to ITV to keep it on air until October.

The soap's cast are now out of contract and some have taken work in the theatre to tide them over until a decision is made on the programme's future.


"The cast are out of their options at the moment and some have taken short-term theatre contracts while we're waiting to hear," a Carlton spokesman said. "But this doesn't necessarily prevent us going back into production. The cast have shown a willingness to return," he added.


Crossroads returned in March last year with 2 million viewers at lunchtime and 3 million at teatime.

But recently the show has only been averaging 0.8 million at 1.40pm and 2.4 million at 5.30pm.


ITV dropped its other daytime soap, Night and Day, from its teatime slot at the end of March because of poor ratings.

Night and Day now goes out in a late-night slot on Thursday.





Spitting image for 007? (Extract)


Croydon Guardian


Currently appearing in Skin Deep, award-winning actor Colin Wells, is perfectly cast. He is the dark, dashing, handsome Michael, caught up in the mystery thriller that surrounds his girlfriend Chloe Smith, played by Rae Baker.

Our interview is over lunch at the Warehouse Theatre and, as we are finding seats on the tiny sun-drenched terrace, heads are turning at Colin. The women are staring, as he is exceptionally good looking, and the men because his face is a familiar one.


At present he is Jake Booth in the revived daytime soap Crossroads for Carlton Television. The day after our lunch he is appearing at the Best of British Soaps ceremony in London, as he's nominated for several awards including Best Actor and Villain of the Year.


Jake's not a very nice chap it seems, and Colin has played him convincingly. So well in fact that in Nottingham, were the series is filmed, he is often accosted in public.


"In the shopping centre one woman ran up and spat at me! I'd been particularly nasty in the previous episode. She missed, luckily, and I suppose you have to take that as a compliment for doing the job so well," he said.

Other jobs well done have been television roles in Peak Practice, The Hello Girls, Casualty, The Bill and Birds of a Feather. Colin played Sam Curtis in CI5: The New Professionals alongside Edward Woodward, a huge international television success.


He was Anthony Hopkins' son in the film Titus, which also starred Jessica Lange. And heavy gossip surrounds Colin, as it is rumoured that he is a contender to slip into that tuxedo when Pierce Brosnan steps out of the line of fire as James Bond.

"I don't really know where that came from," he said as our lunch arrived. "I did the series CI5 which went round the world and was a huge hit, and at the end of that somebody put a vote on the website Who Do You Want To Be The Next James Bond? and following my role as Curtis, I was up there. I've not been interviewed for Bond and I've never had any contact with Bond people, but they do know of my existence."


Tucking into a veggie chilli dish he added: "It would be a laugh, wonderful! I'd be made up for life. But you never know what's round the corner. After CI5 I went into Titus, and then I had seven months without the phone ringing."

What did he do in between jobs'?


"I spent a lot of money and ended up skint!" he replied. Speaking this phrase, I caught a hint of an East End dialect.

"My voice isn't how it used to be, I had a broad Cockney accent. It's now Standard English and most people can't tell where I'm from. I felt I didn't suit my old voice and at drama school I changed it.


"I have no theatrical back ground. I did my A levels and went into banking. I hated it! I left the bank and became a member of the Greenwich Young People's' Theatre. They had a call for extras needed for Francis starring Kenneth Brannagh being presented by Citizens' Theatre Glasgow. I worked for them and convinced them that I was so essential that they had to take me back to Glasgow and give me a real part. I got my Equity card and the rest, as they say, is history."

Now aged 34, married to actress Joanna Macleod, he has a four year old daughter Rachel, whom he tells me, is giving him a hard time as he's working away from his home in Nottingham.


" She's missing me at the moment and is refusing to talk to me on the phone to punish me," he said.

He's a family man, and feeding the family is what made him take on Jake in Crossroads.


"It's nice to have a steady income for a while. We have set up home in Nottingham, it's a great place to bring a child up. There's a bit of a camp element in Crossroads, and it's knocked in the press by people who probably never watch it. Filming for now has finished and the series is running up until September. After that, with Carlton's problems, we don't know if it's being recommissioned."





Crossroads Takes New Bookings


Media Guardian / The Guardian


ITV has ordered 240 new episodes of Crossroads even though its audience is only 3 million, writes Jason Deans.

It had been widely expected to bite the dust, again, but today courageous ITV chiefs took the decision to carry on with the motel soap Crossroads even though it is winning audiences of just 3 million. After months of procrastination, ITV's new controller of daytime TV, Liam Hamilton, has commissioned 240 new episodes. It means the soap, which is on four times a week, will remain a fixture of the schedules until the end of 2003.


ITV last year resurrected Crossroads, renowned for its shaky sets and shakier acting, after a 13 year absence. The show originally ran for 24 years from 1964. Nearly 5 million tuned in when it returned in March but the updated show, which follows daily life at a four star hotel in the midlands, now fully equipped with a gym, landscaped gardens and a classy restaurant, failed to impress large numbers of viewers and ratings have dropped to around 3m.


Today, however, ITV hinted at a major revamp when it hired Yvon Grace, who became known as "Evil Yvon" as a panellist on ITV1 reality show Soapstars last autumn, to be the new executive producer. She has worked for both ITV and the BBC on soaps and other long running dramas, including Holby City, EastEnders, The Ward and Revelations.


"I absolutely loved Crossroads when I was growing up," said Ms Grace. "I remember rushing home from school to sit down and watch it with mum. I have great plans for Crossroads to make it a 'must see' daytime show," she added.


The company responsible for making Crossroads, Carlton, actually stopped production on the show at the end of March. But by that time Carlton had stockpiled enough episodes of the soap, which goes out four times a week at 1.40pm and 5.30pm, to keep it on air until October. Crossroads is off air during the World Cup, but in the final week of May was averaging 0.8 million viewers at lunchtime and 2 million at teatime.





Crossroads beats axe with promise of new storylines


The Evening Standard


CROSSROADS, the classic Seventies soap revived last year to dismal ratings, has narrowly avoided the axe, but has brought in a new executive producer in a last-ditch bid to turn its fortunes around.


Yvon Grace, one of the judging panel in Soapstars, will replace Sharon Bloom and will be charged with creating new characters and storylines.


The series has been given the green light for a further 240 episodes.


ITV's new head of daytime TV, Liam Hamilton, has agreed to continue with the show even though the actors' contracts have expired and the show has ended production.


Carlton's head of drama Jonathan Powell said programme makers would "alter the emphasis" of the drama to concentrate on guests and staff.





Crossroads given more time


BBC News Online


ITV executives have given ailing soap opera Crossroads a vote of confidence by commissioning it to continue for at least another year.


There had been reports that it could be axed due to poor ratings.


It is watched by just three million people per day, half the amount that tune in for its competitor, Neighbours, on BBC One.

But another 240 episodes - which will last for 60 weeks - will be made by Carlton and shown when the current contract runs out in October.


A new executive producer, Yvon Grace, will take over and has said that she has "great plans" to turn it into a "must-see" show.


Ms Grace, who has worked on EastEnders and Holby City, became known as Evil Yvon when she was on the panel in the Soapstars TV talent show.


Jonathan Powell, Carlton's director of drama and co-production, said: "Over the past 15 months, Crossroads has built up a very loyal audience and we now want to build on that fan base."


"Yvon has a fantastic track record in popular drama and will help Crossroads realise its potential."

The show returned to UK screens with a fanfare in March 2001 after 13 years away. It had been a fixture in ITV schedules between 1964 and 1988.




With its storylines and notorious wobbly sets updated, its return was watched by five million people, and critics gave it a warm welcome.


But its viewing figures have slipped to one million for its lunchtime slot, and about two million for an early-evening repeat.

It first went out five times a week, but was then cut to four to cut down on expenditure.

The original soap was also cut back over the years before it was eventually shelved.




Neighbours, which goes out at the same time as Crossroads, gets about six million viewers per day.

But Carlton points out that Crossroads attracts more people than soaps like Channel 4's Hollyoaks and Brookside, as well as Family Affairs and Home and Away on Channel 5.


Crossroads was originally meant to partially replace Home and Away when Channel 5 bought the rights to the Australian drama in 2000.


Ms Grace said: "I absolutely loved Crossroads when I was growing up. I remember rushing home from school to sit down and watch it with mum.


"I have great plans for Crossroads to make it a 'must-see' daytime show."

London-based drama Night and Day, which was also meant to replace Home and Away, lost its daytime slot soon after being launched last November, and is now only shown late at night.





Randy Actors sneak off for Sex


Sunday Mercury


Crossroads cast members have been using rooms at the famous King's Oak motel for quickie sex sessions, one of its leading actresses has revealed.


Rebecaa Hazlewood, who plays waitress Beena Shah, said that randy colleagues had been sneaking off for steamy roamps between film shoots. The stunning actress is currently dating Luke Walker, who played handyman Bradley Clarke in the Midland-based soap. But wile she lifted the lid on the X-rated antics of colleagues, she insisted that she had never been tempted to follow their saucy example herself.


"I have thought about it," admitted Rebecca, from Stourbridge in the West Midlands. "But I'm always well-behaved at work. We've got some very naughty cast members who, inbetween scenes, will jump into bed in one of the hotel rooms. There are loads of rooms available with big double beds, so people are forever nipping off to have sex in them."

The pretty 23 year-old, a former pupil of Summerhill School in Kingswinford, added: "It's so funny because you see the runners on the show frantically searching for the actors when everyone else knows full well where they are."

The actress also revealed what she was doing before she became a soap star = cleaning bospital toilets. "My mum thought it would be a good way to meet people," she explained. "Yeah, right! Then I was in a poster campaign for Toblerone where they put this triangular-shaped biscuit in my mouth. I had to keep it in the side of my cheek, so by the end of the day I was dribbling crumbs everywhere. Very sexy."


Last night, a spokeswoman for Carlton TV dismissed the raunchy revelations, which appear in the July edition of Maxim magazine. "I'm sure Rebecca;s comments are all very tongue-in-cheek," she said. "The Crossroads set is very small and permanently full of cast members, so I can't imagine anyone actually managing to sneak off for a quickie."


Crossroads, which is filmed in Nottingham, returned to our screens last year after a break of more than [13] years, and introduced a younger cast and sexy plots, a world apart from the mild family storylines of the original soap. It was rumoured that the show was facing the chop earlier this year after ITV cut the programme from five episodes a week to four but the network has comissioned Crossroads for another year. TV bosses have, however, demanded changes in a bid to boost ratings. Critics have continued to write hostile reviews about the show, which pulls in 3.2 million viewers. The soap even had the embarrassment of receiving a NAFTA earlier this year - one of the awards that honours the worst programmes on the box.





"Crossroads" to take an Autumn break


Digital Spy


ITV is to give Crossroads an Autumn break before relaunching it in December.

The network recently re-commissioned the show, despite ratings falling to just 3m as of late.
The last episode in the current run will go out on August 30, and production of a further 240 episodes will begin in October, for transmission starting December.

Carlton spokesman told Ananova: "We have great plans for Crossroads to make it a must-see daytime show. It's going to be back bigger and better than ever."





ITC Annual Report

Programme Complaints 2001


During 2001 the number of complaints about violence fell. However, 23 complaints about violence in seven programmes were upheld. Eleven of these were for the programme, Crime Caught on Camera where it was felt that the level of violence was unsuitable in a pre-watershed programme. Complaints about sexual portrayal and language also fell during 2001. In these categories, 37 complaints about the excessive use of bad language in the medical drama A&E, were upheld. However, seven complaints about sexual portrayal in an episode of Crossroads were not upheld