News Archive: November 2000



Lucy Rouse's TV Gossip


Guardian Unlimited


Bet you can't wait for Crossroads to come back on? Television just hasn't been the same experience since those wobbly sets and green knitted woolen hats left the screen. (Well, OK, Dr Who continued into the 1990s, but it just wasn't the same after Tom Baker was it?) But the motel will be back on the box before the middle of next year, bringing laughs back to teatime soap-watchers everywhere.


What you also might not know is that the team making Crossroads over at Carlton is producing the show for about as much as they did the first time around. Those task-masters at ITV ordered not just one teatime soap, but two, a few months back- and they insisted that all producers sign contracts to demonstrate their programmes within strict budget limits. But it works out at an annual income of about 10m for Carlton, so it's not all bad news.


The other sad fact about the doom motel, though, is that the architect behind Crossroads revival won't be around to see his new baby hit the screen. You might not have had Lord Waheed Ali down as a typical Benny fan - but you'd be wrong. The Labour peer was head of Carlton Productions until earlier this week when the parent company's latest boardroom coup left him without a seat. Ali had joined Carlton with his production company Planet 24, which Carlton bought a couple of years ago. His brief was to improve Carlton's reputation for programme-making - so he decided to bring back Crossroads. Shame he isn't working there any more, you might think.


Another fruit of the Carlton cornucopia of delights - Inspector Morse - came to a fitting end on TV this week. Some 60 per cent of viewers tuned in to watch the demise of the wizened one. So ITV should be well happy. But not according to one insider who this week admitted to us: "It wasn't a fabulous production, to be quite honest."





Villagers find themselves divided by Crossroads


The Telegraph


THE selection of a picturesque village as the setting for the return of the 1970s soap opera Crossroads has split the community into those who think it will bring fame and others appalled at being associated with it. Carlton wants Redmile, in the vale of Belvoir, Leics, as the fictional Kings Oak.


Most indoor action will be shot in a studio but location work will be in the main street. Vanessa Rawlings-Jackson, a marketing consultant in the arts, said yesterday: "We are not talking here about a dramatisation of Dickens or Jane Austen - this is crap soap. What's in it for the village? In return for traffic congestion, litter and disruption we will become a focus of tourists of the kind who have their pictures taken outside the Rovers Return and wept for Deidre."


The Peacock, Redmile's small hotel, will double as the infamous motel that was - and probably will be again - forever buzzing with outrageous romance and scurrilous plotting. Sixty-five episodes are planned to start with and the series is scheduled to replace the Australian soap Home and Away. Filming is due to start next month.


This naturally delights Keith Parton, the Peacock's manager, and Helen Mackay, landlady of the nearby Windmill pub. Some residents admit to fancying the reflected glory it will bring but those who value tranquillity are far from pleased and are making their view heard with a petition. Its sponsor, Basil Collin, a retired company director, is organising a meeting on Tuesday at which residents will be invited to put their concerns to Idris Ahmed, Carlton's locations manager.


Mr Ahmed probably thought all was settled by his visit to Redmile on Oct 21, when he secured a favourable vote at a parish meeting, but some villagers question that meeting's status. Kenneth Brockway, the council clerk, said that between 70 and 80 were present. Others claimed that it was only 40 to 50 of a population of about 400.


Mrs Rawlings-Jackson said: "The information given by Mr Ahmed was insufficient. He gave a very rosy picture of what would be involved. I know, because I once agreed to have my former home used as a setting for Boon and it was horrible. I wouldn't let TV people near my home again for 100,000. You have to keep quiet and out of sight and the disruption and mess is dreadful. The TV people have lots of money, so they will be able to afford to pay the police to stop traffic and the residents will just have to put up with it."


Carlton offered to pay the parish. Mr Brockworth said this would go towards a play area or bus shelter. He wouldn't say how much. Mr Collin puts it at 200. Carlton said: "We were surprised to hear that the villagers have these worries and have contacted them and arranged to go back and explain what is involved. There will be a small amount of disruption in Redmile but 95 per cent of Crossroads will be shot in the studio."


Leicestershire county council said Carlton had told it that filming would shortly begin at Sutton crossroads, Notts, near Redmile. "The company has been asked to contact the council should roads in Leicestershire be affected. No contact has been made at present."





More Cross words for Crossroads


BBC Nottingham Online


Residents from a Nottinghamshire village are meeting TV executives today to decide whether the new version of Crossroads can be filmed near their homes.

Carlton Television says that Redmile in the Vale of Bevoir is ideal setting for the fictional village of Kings Oak in the company's new version of the soap serial.


The famous series is to be re-launched next year and the TV company wants to use the village near Bingham for external shots.


The village would appear in five of the 65 scheduled episodes but some residents of Redmile aren't happy with the idea and are afraid that they'll be swamped with tourists.


They say that they have not been given any clear idea of what the disruption to their lifestyle is likely to entail or what traffic problems may arise.


However, others, such as Steve Hughes, the landlord of the Peacock Pub believe it will be good for business.

It's hoped that a meeting between TV executives and villagers taking place today will sort out some of the problems and anxieties.


Crossroads is due to begin filming very shortly but it'll be up to the residents of Redmile to decide whether their village is to become the new home of the famous soap.





Dead end for Crossroads


The Telegraph


TELEVISION executives failed yesterday to placate villagers who object to their homes being used as a backdrop for a new series of Crossroads.


Residents of Redmile, Leics, decided to ballot the whole community on whether they should co-operate after a meeting in which they were addressed by Carlton TV representatives. They are concerned about disruption to village life caused by the filming and tourists.


One of them, Vanessa Rawlings-Jackson, said: "They are looking for a cheap location and will make millions flogging the soap around the world. First, they said there would be 65 episodes but now they are talking of 240 and filming on half a day every week. It's time the villagers stopped to consider what they are getting themselves into.


"It will be very difficult for them to film here if they encounter a lot of ill-feeling and hostility." A Carlton spokesman said: "We are not commenting on locations. I can only confirm that shooting starts in the studio in December."





Villagers in a lather over the invasion of TV soaps cameras


The Independent


THE TELEVISION programme Crossroads will return without many of its defining features - from the woolly-hatted character Benny to the credits rolling diagonally across the screen - but events this week suggest hitches during filming are not all in the past.


Despite having ploughed millions into a custom-built set in Nottingham, Carlton TV will also be filming from Wednesday in the idyllic Leicestershire village of Redmile, where it will run into a campaign of fierce resistance. Redmile is the new setting for the soap's fictional Kings Oak village.


Such is the zest for a remake of the old ATV soap that 240 episodes have been commissioned. That will probably bring Carlton TV to the village every week for a year.


But the people who live there are not pleased with the razzmatazz. A meeting two weeks ago attracted 80 of the village's 240 adults to a local pub, and an anti-Crossroads petition was raised.


On Tuesday morning, the show's producers arrived tomeet the villagers in one of the protester's houses. (There is no parish hall, the church heating is on the blink and the two pubs weren't open.)


The Carlton shilling helped to smooth things over. A pounds 200 contribution towards amenities was promised to the parish council for each of the filming visits. There are also separate financial arrangements with the people who live in the village's beautiful "church corner", where most of the filming will be done.


The parish council says most of the residents are in favour of the filming but object to the number of episodes, of which 65 were expected initially.


And there's a question of content. Vanessa Rawlings-Jackson, a resident and arch- opponent, said: "We were told it will go out before the watershed, but so does Grange Hill, The Bill and Emmerdale and there have been rape scenes and murders in those programmes, which we do not want in this village."


The villagers were apparently unmoved by the wealth brought by the long- running television series Last of the Summer Wine to Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. There, after 27 years of filming, life has begun to imitate art.


Compo's Cafe and the Wrinkled Stocking Tearooms, modelled on the series, compete for 20,000 tourists a year, and a museum to the series has been set up in Compo's "home".


Holmfirth's residents were devastated when Kathy Staff - alias Nora Batty - left the series last year. Sonia Lee, a villager, said."I have no idea if they will still use my house. My back steps have come to be known as Nora's steps,"

But even Holmfirth has its disgruntled locals. A dam in the area was allegedly polluted when two cars were dumped in it for one scene. The resulting protest reflected well the delicate business of location filming.


Twenty miles away in Hadfield, north Derbyshire, tempers were so frayed when a 60-strong BBC crew arrived to film The League of Gentlemen that the Glossop Chronicle ran a story headlined "Plague of Gentlemen". A community meeting was called to discuss what to do if the producers returned for another series.


An inhabitant of Goathland, the North York Moors town where ITV's Heartbeat is set, said she would not have bought a cottage there had she known it was to become the programme's location.


"I have had to put up net curtains because it's like living in a goldfish bowl," she said. "You go to the local shop for groceries and you can't get in for visitors looking for souvenirs."


But there are benefits once the cameras have gone. A research paper last year shows that visitors numbers to a place increase by 77 per cent, on average, five years after the release of a film made there. The number of visitors to Cornwall leapt by 10,000 a year after Poldark came out in the Seventies, while southern Florida saw an almost 20 per cent rise attributed to Miami Vice.


Redmile's predicament best matches that of Esholt, a village near Bradford where Emmerdale was filmed for 10 years until producers announced that three episodes a week were too much and the location was moved to Leeds.

"The TV crews carried a bag of money to persuade people to move their cars," an Esholt resident said. "My friend got terribly irate when they hissed `Quiet on the set'. She said, `It's not a set, it's my lawn'." At one point, there were 500 coach trips a year to the Woolpack Inn in Esholt.


The fact that Redmile's depleted farming industry needs all the help it can get has done nothing to sway the views of residents. But they are beginning to realise they have little legal clout. "Other than the Human Rights Act we have no privacy laws at our disposal," said John Rawling, Redmile's parish council chairman. (Ian Herbert)





Cameras Roll on Crossroads Remake


BBC News


Filming has started on the new version of ITV soap opera Crossroads which was axed in 1988.

The soap is being filmed at Carlton's studios in Nottingham and on location in the surrounding area.


The Series started in 1965, based around a fictional motel, but it was axed after more than 4,500 episodes.

The re-vamped version will feature a number of actors from the original run.


Jane Rossington, who spoke the opening line in the very first episode of the original series, returns as Jill Harvey. She said: "To have been part of a programme which made television history was wonderful. To be back at Crossroads as the series is reborn is really exciting."


The soap's makers have promised a series of powerful new characters and storylines.

No Benny But executive producer Sharon Bloom said it would also retain "many of the aspects that made Crossroads such a well-loved programme for so many years". Street actress Sherrie Hewson will play receptionist Virginia Raven in the Crossroads Motel.


Other confirmed cast members include Kathy Staff, who returns as Doris Luke, and Tony Adams, appearing as Adam Chance.


Former Hollyoaks star James McKenzie Robinson and actor Toby Sawyer have also been signed up.

Fans of the soap will be distressed to hear that handyman Benny, played by Paul Henry, will not return, despite the actor's desire to figure in the new version.


Earlier in the year Henry said he would love to return to the soap





Crossroads confirms star line-up for TV comeback


Guardian Unlimited / The Guardian


Actress Jane Rossington, who spoke the opening line in Crossroads 36 years ago, is set to return to the ITV soap as Jill Harvey.


Joining her in the new Crossroads line-up are former Coronation Street actress Sherrie Hewson, who plays receptionist Virginia Raven.


"To have been part of a programme which made television history was wonderful - and to be back at Crossroads as the series is reborn is really exciting," said Miss Rossington.


Other confirmed members of the cast include Last of the Summer Wine actress Kathy Staff, who plays Doris Luke, and Tony Adams as Adam Chance.


Jane Gurnett will play Kate Russell, the owner of Crossroads. Former Hollyoaks actors James McKenzie Robinson and Toby Sawyer have also been signed up.


The new Crossroads has gone into production at Carlton's studios in Nottingham and on location in the surrounding area after a break of 12 years.


Series executive producer Sharon Bloom promised viewers that the new show, which will be screened on ITV five nights a week from next spring, would be well worth watching.


"We'll be introducing some powerful new characters and storylines whilst retaining many of the aspects that made Crossroads such a well-loved programme for so many years," she said.





Crossroads turns on the Glamour


Daily Mail


Its name evokes an era of creaking plots, creaking dialogue and, best of all, creaking sets.


Crossroads, as even its legions of devoted fans might concede, was rarely renowned for its glamour. But not any more.

The soap set in the giddy world of motel machinations, and which checked out of viewers' lives in 1988, began filming again this week with an injection of high-octane sex appeal.


For example, and fans of the cult soap should brace themselves here, the role as the new handyman at the Midlands most famous motel has gone to a heart-throb actor sporting a mane of long dark hair and fashionable goatee.

Luke Walker, 25, from Birmingham, will follow in the footsteps of Paul Henry's nice-but-dim oddjob man, Benny, whose trademark woolly hat became as famous as the motel itself during the soap's 1970s' heyday.


Luke's character, Bradley Clarke, is one of a host of new faces drafted in to give the new Crossroads, which will boast its own gym and swimming pool, a facelift.


He will be joined by former Price is Right hostess Cindy Marshall-Day who will play beauty salon manager Tracey Booth.

While the bulk of the new Crossroads cast will be made up of fresh faces, three of those featured in the original series, which clocked up 4,510 episodes before its demise, will revive their roles.


Jane Rossington, who spoke the first ever line in the soap on November 2, 1964, will return as glamorous, many-times-married Jill Chance.


She will be re-joined by Tony Adams as her on-off screen partner Adam Chance, and Kathy Staff, best known as Nora Batty in Last of the Summer Wine, as chef Doris Luke.


A spokesman for Carlton Productions, whose 10 million series will be the centrepiece of ITV's daytime schedule next spring, said viewers would no longer have to make do with the wobbly sets of old.


He added: 'The cast is intentionally a mixture of old Crossroads favourites who are coming back, people who are already household names or familiar faces from elsewhere, and fresh young actors,' he said.

'There are lots of young and talented actors, and they just so happen to be good-looking too.'


Among the others joining the motel are former Hollyoaks stars James McKenzie Robinson and Toby Sawyer, who have been cast as waiters, and Liverpool One actress Rebecca Hazlewood as streetwise waitress Beana Vaz.


The new motel owners Kate and Patrick Russell will be played by Jane Gurnett - nurse Rachel Long-worth in Casualty - and Neil McCaul, whose recent credits include East-Enders and Hearts and Bones.





Filming Starts for New Crossroads




Filming has started on a new version of Crossroads.


A number of actors from the original soap have been signed up for the revived show. It is being filmed at Carlton's studios in Nottingham and on location in the surrounding area.


Jane Rossington returns as Jill Harvey. She spoke the first line in the very first episode in 1964. The original series ran for 24 years.


Former Coronation Street actress Sherrie Hewson will play receptionist Virginia Raven in the Crossroads motel.

Other confirmed members of the cast include Kathy Staff who played Nora Batty in Last of the Summer Wine. She returns as Doris Luke. Tony Adams appears as Adam Chance.


Jane Gurnett will play the owner of the motel, Kate Russell. Former Hollyoaks stars James McKenzie Robinson and Toby Sawyer have also been signed up.


One omission from the original line-up will be handyman Benny who was played by Paul Henry. Benny's character will be replaced by Bradley Clarke, to be played by Luke Walker.


Miss Rossington said: "To have been apart of a programme which made television history was wonderful. And to be back at Crossroads as the series is reborn is really exciting".


Series executive producer Sharon Bloom promised the new show will be well worth watching. It will be screened on ITV five nights a week from next spring.


"We'll be introducing some powerful new characters and storylines while retaining many of the aspects that made Crossroads such a well-loved programme for so many years," she said.