The Story of Crossroads 2001

 

This page is our attempt to examine the Crossroads revival of 2001, to place it in the context of the original series and consider both the positive and negative aspects of the programme. Join us for a rollercoaster ride as we examine the story of Crossroads 2001.

 

Let’s try to set the record straight once and for all… The original series of Crossroads was not axed in 1988. The executives at Central television decided that they no longer wanted to make the show and stopped production. Perhaps surprisingly this came just after a complete revamp that had actually seen viewing figures increase!

 

At the time there was even talk of a weekend omnibus. In many ways the “end” came out of the blue and left many of the show’s stars and fans feeling as though Crossroads had not come to a natural conclusion.

 

 

Crossroads: NOT axed in 1988!

 

 

Appearing in the last episode were Tony Adams as “Adam Chance” and Jane Rossington as “Jill Chance”. Tony had been with the programme since the late 70’s but Jane’s connection went right back to the very first episode in 1964.

 

Fittingly the final storyline revolved around these two characters and the episode was advertised with a “Who will Jill choose?” teaser. By 1988 the series had undergone many changes – not all of them popular with fans.

 

Almost as soon as the series ended there was talk of a revival. In some ways Crossroads is the soap that refused to die. Of course this talk came to nothing until an influential Crossroads fan, Lord Waheed Ali of Carlton Television was able to pitch his idea to ITV as a replacement for Home and Away which had been poached by five (formerly Channel 5).

 

Carlton faced stiff competition for the commission, but were able to convince ITV that the time was right for a Crossroads revival when they submitted several months worth of storylines. The show was commissioned for a year – to broadcast in the lunchtime slot left vacant by Home and Away. The original plan was for “Trafalgar Road” ( which eventually became “Night and Day”) to show in the evening slot.

 

News of the Crossroads revival was given to the press in a release dated August 2000. Crossroads was to be the “centerpiece” to ITVs daytime schedule and would build “on the strong and enduring affection for the programme amongst viewers”. There were even plans to open up the studios in Nottingham as a tourist money spinner (similar to the Granada Studios tour in Manchester)

 

 

Adam or John…?

 

 

With the press release there came the inevitable media speculation about how the Crossroads revival would look, sound and feel. It seemed that every TV critic had an opinion on the show – and they weren’t afraid to air them.

 

Of course, in the 12 years that Crossroads had been off air, the fans had also developed ways of making their views and opinions known. The internet became the home of new fan-sites and message boards where everything and anything to do with the show would be debated.

 

For many, the Crossroads Online site was the place where they could meet to discuss what was to become of the national institution….or “Drossroads” as the press would have it…

 

ATV, then CENTRAL, now CARLTON

 

 

Much of the initial reporting by the national press seemed to be fairly positive, with appearances by Paul Henry (Benny) and other original cast members helping to raise the profile of the new production.

 

The assurances that the new Crossroads would build on the illustrious history of the original series and the announcement that if Jane Rossington (Jill) was interested in returning to the show, “there will always be a role for her” allowed fans to breathe a sigh of relief that the show was in safe hands.

 

The news that other regulars Tony Adams (Adam Chance) and Kathy Staff (Doris Luke) were returning to the show helped to reassure fans that the history of the show would not be forgotten.

 

Carlton set up a website in late 2000 to give details about the show. The history page being easily the most informative, showing that the production team had started to brush up on some of the bare bones of the show’s back story. (A copy of the site is available in the LINKS section of this site.)

 

The casting of actors such as Roger Sloman, Jane Gurnett and Sherrie Hewson were signs that the show was distancing itself from the “wooden” performance myth that surrounded the original series, and although this also came with the news that Benny’s handyman skills would not be required, many fans accepted that time SHOULD have moved on at the Crossroads hotel.

Adam and Jill were to return 13 years later.

John (left) was not.

 

 

 

On Monday 5th March 2001 the show premiered on ITV and viewers were allowed their first glimpse in nearly 13 years of the show that refused to die…

 

Reviews were on the whole positive…"The new Crossroads has got success written all over it." (Gary Bushell "The Sun")

 

So now, lets take a look at what (I think) was right about the show. Remember that these are my opinions and I am big enough to accept that there are many people out there who disagree….

 

First of all I think that praise must be given to Rod Stratfold and the team that actually built the hotel. It looked fantastic both INSIDE and OUTSIDE. The sets were clearly based on real hotels and reflected what a 4 star hotel in the Midlands would have looked like.

 

The exterior was reminiscent of the 1988 hotel without trying to slavishly copy it. I could believe that after extensive renovation it was certainly possible that the hotel could have evolved into what we saw on screen in 2001.

Rod Stratfold’s impressive set…

 

…interiors and exteriors in Nottingham.

 

 

In terms of continuity to the original series, the lake, which had been so familiar a sight in the original series had been kept and used as part of the plots. The hotel was still in King’s Oak, Heathbury and in episode 2 there were clear references to Meg Richardson and the history that Jill had with the hotel…. Which brings me nicely onto the three original cast members…

 

It was absolutely the right thing to do to invite Jane Rossington back to Crossroads. As the daughter of the original owner, Jill had seen others come and go during the original series. The fact that she had spoken the opening and closing lines had passed into soap-lore and Jill had become a soap icon – so much so that a “Cousin Jill” played by Jane Rossington had appeared in a cameo role in Brookside a few years previously.

 

Of course, wherever there was Jill, there was bound to be Adam. As a couple they had nearly taken over the running of the place at the end of the series. Adam was left seething when Jil chose to run off with John Maddingham at the last minute and deny him the chance of owning the hotel. This was his opportunity to put things right.

 

And finally Doris, played by the ever reliable Kathy Staff was re-introduced “below stairs” gossiping with the chamber maids. Admittedly the continuity conscious fans could see straight away that it was unlikely that Bradley really was her nephew but as even they had to admit, Crossroads was never one for letting continuity get in the way of a storyline. Having Doris around again gave older viewers a way of getting into the stories of the younger cast members.

 

13 years later – but not a day older!

 

 

 

Also, despite many reports stating that there were only three original characters returning, we also had Jill’s daughter Sarah-Jane who “sees the hotel as her birthright.” The inclusion of Sarah meant that there were opportunities to discuss characters and continuity from the old series in a way which would appeal to the older fans without alienating new viewers.

 

Another thing that was absolutely correct was having a family right at the centre of the action with a strong woman in control. This had echoes of the original series while allowing for a whole new set of fans to come to love “their” Crossroads family.

 

From an early stage, Kate (or Shirley) had been designed as the ideal owner – not afraid of getting her hands dirty and pitching in with the rest of the staff. I believe that she appealed to both new and old fans alike.

 

So what of the other new characters? Rocky Wesson and Virgina Raven worked beautifully together on screen and could easily have fitted into the original series without any noticeable differences. Scheming, manipulative, womaniser Jake Booth would have had no trouble in the 1980’s “King’s Oak” era either.

 

Comedy stalwarts Dave and Oona Stocks provided the much needed West Midlands accents and a lovely mini-family outside of the hotel which again felt like traditional Crossroads characters.

 

Bradley (with his tenuous relative to Doris status) and boyfriend Tom brought a challenging, yet successful image of modern family life to daytime soap (in much the same way that black characters Joe and Trina had done years before in the original series.)

 

Sarah-Jane Harvey the “forgotten” original

Series character.

 

 

 

Characters such as Beena Shah and Kully Gill were used well to reflect the multicultural society that Birmingham had become without it ever feeling forced. When asked where she was from, Beena replied “Solihull” in a moment of comic timing worthy of any scene in the classic series.

 

What I hope I am doing is stressing the point that the characters, and in most cases the casting were spot on throughout the show.

 

So what of the show itself? Was did the producers get right there? Well firstly they called the show “Crossroads” and not “Crossroads King’s Oak” as it had been re-named in the 1980’s in an attempt to distance the show from the programme it was in the 60’s and 70’s.

 

Also, the famous theme tune was brought back even though it had been scrapped in 1987. It remains to this day one of the most recognisable theme tunes in TV history.

The beautiful Beena Shah... from Solihull

 

 

In short: The casting was great, the chance to see old characters back was wonderful, the set was stunning, the look and feel of the show was modern without being alienating, the first episode cliffhanger with Jill returning to the hotel was a masterstroke, the critics seemed to love it, ITV was right behind it, the walls didn’t wobble, the new characters were appealing, the music was brilliant, the credits clearly stated it was based on the original series by Hazel Adair and Peter Ling, it was being made in the Midlands by what was essentially the same production company, the producers had researched how shows such as 5 days a week Autralian soaps worked and knew what they were letting themselves in for, there were references to Meg, Stan, John Maddingham on an almost daily basis, Jill (and later Adam) were involved in the main action not just as peripheral characters and most important of all 9 million people watched the first episode!

 

So with all these positives, what went wrong? Well that, my friends, is a story for another day…

 

 

Original series created by…

 

 

PART TWO COMING SHORTLY…