Features: The Return of Crossroads as seen in the National Press

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Here are just a few articles from the national press announcing the return of Crossroads to ITV after a 13 year absence.

 

"Return of Drossroads" by Kevin O' Sullivan ( The Mirror)

 

 

 

The sets creaked, the actors struggled and the wafer-thin plots never thickened. For 24 long years, TV motel soap Crossroads ruled supreme as the nation's most-derided soap. But however much the critics snarled and sneered, its army of patient fans loved it.

 

In its sixties heyday it pulled in 14 million viewers. And maybe that's why Carlton director of production Lord Waheed Alli confirmed yesterday that the series which was once a national joke is being lined up for a five-days-a-week teatime slot - 12 years after it was axed.

 

Carlton want a home-grown soap to fill the slot left by Home and Away moving to Channel 5. The new Crossroads would be made in Nottingham, but Lord Alli said that this time it would probably be set in a hotel rather than a motel, adding: "we don't have motels any more, do we?"

 

It seems we don't have many of the original actors either. The new show will be aimed at a young audience - which could be bad news for some of the original actors. As suave Adam Chance, Tony Adams was a household name for more than a decade. But since Crossroads, Tony, 59, has scarcely worked in television at all. Nor has Jane Rossington, Tony's screen wife Jill and one of the soap's stalwarts for its entire 24-year run. But former Big Breakfast chief Alli reassured anxious fans by promising: "If Jane's interested, there will always be a role for her in the new Crossroads."

 

The future is less certain for Paul Henry, who played famous dimwit Benny and was once voted "King of Soaps". But he has never been forgotten. "I must have received between 200 and 300 phone calls today from people telling me the show might return." says Paul, 54, who spent 12 years playing the simple odd-job man who seemed one bulb short of a full lighting set. "I just hope that if it does come back, there is a part for me. I had a wonderful time."

 

Crossroads' biggest star was actress Noele Gordon, alias motel supremeo Meg Mortimer. The nation was shocked when the soap queen was axed in 1981. She died of Cancer four years later. But there was life after Crossroads for Kathy Staff, who played Doris Luke. She went onto great success as the battleaxe Nora Batty in the BBC's Last Of The Summer Wine.

 

The man who killed off the series when viewing figures slumped to four million, Central TV boss Andy Allen, is unrepentant. "I wrestled with it for a long, long time." He says. "But I felt Crossroads was losing its appeal - and I stand by my decision to end it."

 

But fans have always blamed meddling producers for its decline. Tony Adams says: "A lot of people condemned Crossroads when they had only watched a few episodes. We used to shoot five episodes a week live, although it was not broadcast live. But, with no editing facilities, the mistakes used to stay in. That's why it was slated.

 

I had lunch with Jane Rossington last week, and she said it carried a curse because of its bad reputation."

 

ITV bosses plan to keep the famous theme tune, but it will be reworked to give it a thoroughly modern sound.

 

There are plans to set up a money-spinning Coronation Street-style studio, open to the public. A Carlton insider says: "With the right investment of money and talent there's no reason why Crossroads can't be just as popular as Coronation Street and Eastenders.

 

Meanwhile the actors must wait and hope. Lord Alli says: "Apart from Jane's role, no other decisions have been made. Its a new programme and it will have new characters. But no one would want to alienate the fans who used to enjoy Crossroads in the past."

 

Well, they wouldn't dare do it again.. would they?

 

 

 

"TV soap's cleaning up its act" by Laura Benjamin (The Sun)

 

Telly soap Crossroads gets off to an encouraging start. as technicians carry out checks to make sure the motel sign is fixed FIRMLY in place.

 

The series - which returns next year - was famous in the seventies and eighties for its wobbly walls and wooden acting.

 

Clearly, bosses are making sure the set in Nottingham is rigid. Let's just hope the new stars aren't too!

 

 

 

"Jane's back and she looks just Jill-iant" by Emily Smith (The Sun)

 

Crossroads favourite Jane Rossington checks back in for the soap's remake - looking almost the same as she did 20 years ago.

 

Jane, who helped launch the motel soap as Jill in 1964, is back on set for the £10million remake.

 

The 57-year-old shared a joke with actor Luke Walker, who replaces loveable dimwit Benny Hawlkins as the new handyman.

An insider said: "The new show will be a lot more young and sexy than the old version. But we couldn't bring it back without Jane - and she still looks great."

 

Jane added: "To be back as it is reborn is wonderful." Other old faces making a return include Tony Adams as Adam Chance and Kathy Staff - Nora Batty in Last Of The Summer Wine - as Chef Doris Luke.

 

The soap, axed 12 years ago, is being shot in Redmile, Leics. It returns to ITV five times a week next spring 

 

 

 

"I know standards have improved on Crossroads...

In the old series I was pregnant for over a year" by Stafford Hildred (The Sun)

 

When Jane Rossington was in Crossroads the first time round, her character was pregnant for a YEAR.

 

Now the telly soap famous for its wobbly sets and even wobblier storylines is back. But its bad old days are well and truly behind it, promise bosses.

 

The infamous ITV series returns to British screens next month after a 13-year break and a £10million revamp. The relaunch sees Jane, who played Jill Richardson, among just three original cast members still working in the Midlands motel.

 

And the actress, who spoke the show's first lines in November 1964 as well as the last before it was axed in April 1988 cannot wait for the big day.

Jane, now 57, admits corners were cut during the soaps first 24-year run. "There were only eight of us in the early episodes." She recalls. "People on set used to say, 'Its only Crossroads,' as if it didn't matter. It was very hard to work in that atmosphere."

 

Jane reveals the show's writers even tried to work her real-life pregnancy into the script. But they ended up leaving her character carrying the child for over a year as her due date clashed with the ongoing plot. "Soap was a dirty word at the time we were taken off, Jane adds. "I admit I was disappointed, but it had almost become inevitable."

 

"However, since then there has been an explosion of soaps. Millions of people used to love Crossroads and it's just fabulous that its returning. The new show is much pacier and in your face. It has got this fabulous new set and loads of attractive youngsters in the cast so its brilliant to be back."

 

The new faces include Toby Sawyer as waiter Tom Curtis, Gilly Gilchrist as chef Billy Taylor and hunky handyman Bradley Clarke - the new Benny - played by Luke Walker.

 

The original Crossroads began life as a six-week serial called The Midland Road. It told the story of widower Meg Richardson - Jane's on screen mother - who turned the family home into a motel.

 

As the years passed, characters came and went at bewildering speed. Chef Shughie McFee once went behind the fridge for some ingredients and did not return for six months. Deke Arlon, who played coffee bar boss, Benny Wilmott, said: "My last scene was in the motel with Meg. She said, 'Benny go out and get some sugar.' I was never seen again."

 

And characters mysteriously disappearing were not the only problem. Peter Brookes, who played postman, Vince Parker, said: "In my very first episode everything went wrong and I had to make up my first line. I was supposed to try the post office door and find it locked. Unfortunately the props man had forgotten to lock it and I fell through to face a startled postmistress. I muttered something like 'I'd keep that door locked if I were you,' and we just carried on."

 

Anthony Morton, who played chef Carlos in the early shows added: "I once had a scene with Jane Rossington where I had to crack eggs into a bowl. The first egg was so rotten it was almost black. The smell was appalling but we just carried on. That was Crossroads."

 

Despite its embarrassing reputation, Crossroads actually paved the way for more recent hard-hitting soaps including Eastenders and Brookside. The show boldly tackled controversial storylines ranging from alcoholism and rape to bigamy and test-tube pregnancies. Meg's son Sandy was the first handicapped character in a British soap, Joe McDonald was one of the first black stars and Down's Syndrome sufferer Nina Weill won the hearts of millions playing her part. The show also boasted a series of now famous names among its cast.

 

Malcolm McDowell, Elaine Paige, Bob Monkhouse, Ken Dodd, Kate Robbins and Diane Keen were all among the early stars. Coronation Street's Johnny Briggs and Sue Nicholls also got their TV breaks on the set. Even Only Fools And Horses funnyman David Jason put in appearances as a gardener.

 

Producers claim the new Crossroads will be a world away from the old show, which ran for more than 4,500 episodes and pulled in 16 million viewers. The nasal Brummie accents have been ditched, along with the shaky props and on-set telephones that rang long after they were picked up.

 

In their place is a gleaming four-star hotel, complete with Internet Café, beauty salon, sauna and gym, all created inside huge Nottingham studios owned by the show's new producer Carlton TV. Designer Rod Stratford says: "This time we have gone for genuine hotel fittings and furniture. The reception area is huge, around 8,000 square feet and the bar area was inspired by the new Hilton hotel that's just opened nearby. The lifts aren't operated, as they once were, by a couple of guys with a rope. They're real, and not one of the walls will wobble, I promise you!"

 

Former Crossroads favourites including Jane, Tony Adams and Kathy Staff will be joined by a glittering array of newcomers.

 

Central TV boss Charles Denton, who took the decision to axe her, found himself receiving hate mail, while angry Noele accused him of killing off the best-loved woman in Britain. The actress made a brief return in 1983 but died of Cancer three years later. Friends insist she never really recovered from the sacking.

 

Former co-star Jane said: "Noele would be more pleased than anyone at the decision to bring back Crossroads. She loved the show and so do I."