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The Crossroads Collection

The Crossroads CollectionLove it or loathe it, the original
  Crossroads will at least evoke some
  sort of emotion in you and it carries
  with it the nostalgia of the early soap
  series where nothing appears to go
  according to plan...

WITH THE RESPECTABLE NOEL GORDON at the helm, Crossroads was welcomed as a way forward in television. But it became well-known more for its mobile scenery, bobbing mikes, fluffing lines, suspect storylines and ham acting than it did for its original idea.

Crossroads had a loyal following that couldn't wait for the next episode to find out if Meg Richardson (Noel Gordon: Summer Royal, The Girl Most Likely) could save the day or if her daughter Jill (Jane Rossington) would find love with Adam Chance (Tony Adams: Hardly Working, Superfantagenio) after her divorce from husband Stan (Edward Clayton). Jill later has an affair and a son (Matthew) with her stepbrother Anthony Mortimer (Jeremy Sinden). Great stuff for an early soap.

Set around a family-run motel on the outskirts of Birmingham, Crossroads was prime-time viewing and it achieved cult status for over twenty-three years between 1964 and 1987. More than 15 million viewers (including my grandmother!) tuned in regularly for each daily instalment.

The show created famous and much-loved characters. Most popular was Meg, but Jill and Adam were also favourites along with Benny Hawkins (Paul Henry: Bad Girls, Romeo And Juliet), Marilyn Gates (Sue Nicholls: Coronation Street); David Hunter (Ronald Allen) and Diane (Susan Hanson), whose love life was complicated by her divorce from Vince Parker (Peter Brookes) and her marriage of convenience to David's son Christopher (Stephen Hoy) and subsequent boyfriend PC Steve Cater (Bruce Lidington).

Adam was previously involved with Miranda (Claire Faulconbridge), whose father J Henry Pollard (Michael Turner) had been going to finance Adam's ventures until the wedding was called off when Miranda was caught out with Chris Hunter.

Dramatic storylines included Meg's feared death in a fire at Crossroads, Stan kidnapping his daughter Sarah Jane (Sorrel Dunger), Meg's son Sandy (the late Roger Tonge) tragically crippled following a car accident and Crossroads' own JR-style shooting — the increasingly unstable Rosemary Hunter (Janet Hargreaves) shoots her former husband David the day he announces his engagement to Barbara Brady (the magnificent Sue Lloyd).

The Crossroads series was originally created by Hazel Adair and Peter Ling and was at first filmed in black and white before moving to colour. One of the saddest storylines is that of the death of gypsy girl Maureen Flynn (Nell Curran), whom Benny is about to marry. Comedy moments include an oddball called Humphrey (David Trevena) who claims he's placed a bomb at the motel.

Other moments of drama that were particularly notable because they carried messages: Rosemary agrees to see Dr Derek Maynard (Brian Hankins) about her cancer and he tells her: "If more people could overcome their initial fear and see their doctors we could do so much more." And when Glenda Brownlow (Lynette McMorrough) foolishly hitch-hikes from London, where she has been living rough, to Birmingham, she is picked up by a lorry driver who assaults her and leaves her unconscious at the roadside.

Glenda later meets the good-looking Kevin Banks (talented and underused actor David Moran), which is a rather nice storyline because of Kevin's understanding after hearing about Glenda's ordeal. Sadly the Banks family — along with the Hunters — were dropped from Crossroads on 14 January, 1985.

Meg married Hugh Mortimer (John Bentley) at Birmingham Register Office with a blessing at Coventry Cathedral, but among her other love interests was Kevin McArthur (Vincent Ball). At her wedding, Meg is driven in a white Rolls Royce by Larry Grayson and at the reception a song is sung in her honour — We'll Find Our Day sung by Holly Brown (Stephanie de Sykes).

Some exceptional characters were Miss Tatham (Elisabeth Croft); Amy Turtle (Ann George), Shughie McFee (Angus Lennie), Bernard Booth (David Lawton), Doris Luke (Kathy Staff), Sharon Metcalfe (Carolyn Jones); Paul Ross (Sandor Elès) and Vera Downend (Zeph Gladstone), who catches Meg's bouquet.

A number of star guests put in an appearance: Diane was once involved with motel guest Clifford Leyton (Johnny Briggs: Coronation Street); Meg was the subject of a controversial painting by artist Jimmy Gudgeon (Jimmy Hanley); Bob Powell was played by Maurice Kaufmann); Miss Burney by Carmen Silvera; Wendy Crisp (Yvette Dotrice); Mrs Crisp (Kay Dotrice) and Chester Harriott — the actor and pianist father of celebrity chef Ainsley — appeared in one episode. And one Christmas Noele Gordon sang, accompanied by Johnny Patrick.

Early Crossroads episodes featured: Spanish chef Carlos Rafael (Anthony Morton) and his wife Josefina (Gillian Betts); Timothy Hunter (Derek Farr); Tish Hope (Joy Andrews); Joe MacDonald (Carl Andrews); Lloyd Munro (Alan Gifford); Mr Lovejoy (William Avenell); and the sinister Simone Clavel (Carolle Rousseau). The striking music is by Tony Hatch but Paul McCartney and Wings produced a special arrangement that was used in later episodes.

Some of the location shots were very good — a number of episodes featured the remains of Coventry Cathedral as well as the new Cathedral. Cleverly, while Meg is trying to come to terms with her son's disability, she sees the word 'Forgive' etched into the wall.

Although early scripts were on the raw side, Crossroads developed and scripts became tighter. It is fascinating to see how fashions were back then, with kipper ties and bouffant hairstyles. Crossroads often ended on a cliff-hanger and explored Meg's romances, Jill's traumas, divorces, suicide, blackmail, death, jealousies, personality clashes, egos, betrayal and tragedies. Always with a little comedy thrown in for good measure.

Network is releasing The Crossroads Collection on 1 September (2008), following the success of these four series each originally sold separately. This eight-disc set will be available at all good retailers at a RRP of £39.99. Running Time: 1,020 minutes (approx) | Screen Ratio: 1.33:1. The Crossroads Collection makes up a collection of four previous Crossroads series with all 49 episodes compiled together for the first time along with the special features.

Special Features

Volume 1: Princess Alexandra opens ATV's Broad Street Studios and visits the Crossroads set | Previously unseen 1978 Greek promotional trailer | Episode 3,000 ATV Today cast interview | Wedding souvenir magazine PDF | 1960s promotional trailers.

Volume 2: Why I loved Crossroads: In conversation with Sue Nicholls | Crossroads Trailers | PDF Material | Crossroads: Thirty Years On | Lunchbox.

Volume 3: Format V, Original 1960s promotional trailers (part mute) | Viewpoint | Interview With Noele Gordon | Crossroads 3,000 | Noele Leaves Crossroads | Dismissed From Crossroads | Meg Is Magic | Meg Mortimer's Last Episode.

Volume 4: News Archive.

"Love it or loathe it, the original Crossroads will at least evoke some sort of emotion in you and it carries with it the nostalgia of the early soap series where nothing appears to go according to plan" — MotorBar