Sunday, 14 April 2019

MEG'S GREEN PLATES - REPLICA


WEDGWOOD JASPERWARE - THE CASE OF THE WANDERING ORNAMENTS


In the 1979 Crossroads Special, one feature mentions that “It’s the little things…that make a difference to the smooth running of the show -

Like making sure that the clocks tell the correct time and that the ornaments and pictures in Meg’s sitting-room are in the same place for each episode.”

From the 1979 Crossroads Special

Now we’ve already established that I have a ‘thing’ for collecting replicas of Meg’s ornaments. You can find out about the trials and tribulations of finding one piece in particular just HERE, but there are some pieces that everyone seems to remember. Just recently I had someone ask whether I was going to add Meg’s green and white plates to my collection.

Was I?

Of course I was!

The green plates in question are actually Wedgwood “Jasperware” and they are really easy to get hold of.

Episode 1971

According to Wikipedia, HERE, “Jasperware, or jasper ware, is a type of pottery first developed by Josiah Wedgwood in the 1770s. Usually described as stoneware, it has an unglazed matte "biscuit" finish and is produced in a number of different colours, of which the most common and best known is a pale blue that has become known as Wedgwood Blue.”

“Relief decorations in contrasting colours (typically in white but also in other colours) are characteristic of jasperware, giving a cameo effect. The reliefs are produced in moulds and applied to the ware as sprigs.”

“The fired body of each piece is naturally white but usually stained with metallic oxide colors; its most common shade is pale blue, but dark blue, lilac, sage green (described as "sea-green" by Wedgwood), black, and yellow are also used, with sage green due to chromium oxide, blue to cobalt oxide, and lilac to manganese oxide, with yellow probably coming from a salt of antimony, and black from iron oxide.”

The green plates actually feature throughout the time that the sitting-room appeared in its green colour-scheme in the programme. Once the sitting room is redecorated to brown, they are understandably taken off the shelves – never to be seen again.

The plates also appear in the black and white episodes, but since they are lacking any colour it is impossible to say whether they are the same ones. Certainly the colour publicity photographs from the early 1960’s appear to show them as being pale blue, along with the walls, but this might just be an issue with the photos in question...

Pale blue or green?

But back to the 1979 Crossroads Special, and the exact placing of Meg’s ornaments.

I’ll leave you to look at the screen captures below and decide for yourself on how successful this was. Perhaps Meg just liked to move her collection around?

Episode 1304
Episode 1674
Episode 1736
Episode 1891
Episode 1900
Episode 1971
Episode 1978
The "brown" era - Plates have gone!
First surviving appearance - Episode 496
Episode 497
By Episode 1009 the collection looks a little sparse!

While we’re here…..“Everything on this simple looking set had to be meticulously planned.”
 
"RESTUARANT" - Apparently
Really?

Sunday, 17 February 2019

ROYAL SOUVENIR - REPLICA


1977 SILVER JUBILEE LOVING CUP

Now we know that Meg was partial to porcelain – I’ve already looked at various figurines in her sitting room – but in 1977 the following piece made it onto the set of the Crossroads Motel.

A 1977 Royal Stafford ‘Loving Cup’ - commemorating the Silver Jubilee. 




It appears in various places in the Sitting Room set, but mainly on the nest of tables or on top of the bureau. There isn’t really a lot to say about it if I’m completely honest, but it does look nice so I was keen to add one to the collection.


Another piece of royal memorabilia that I should also mention is the picture that appeared in reception where the “bar” used to be. Although it is sometimes thought to be a painting, it is in fact a photograph of Queen Elizabeth ll & Prince Philip in The Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle, taken by Peter Grugeon in 1975.



Again, there isn’t much to say about it – but the “Royal Portrait” is so iconic, that it has appeared in various spoofs over the years…

"Now That's What I Call Television" - Crossroads

Actually had TWO royal pictures - this one....

....and the correct one!

2018 Episode of "Endeavour" - "Passenger"


While I’m here, and I’m thinking about royal connections, perhaps I should mention the queen of soap….

It’s a title that has been claimed by many over the years, and I’m not here to argue about it –for me there can be only one.  Noele Gordon.

When Nolly left Crossroads in 1981, a magazine was published: “Goodbye Meg”. The writers knew that she was TV royalty – They described the magazine as “marking the end of Noele Gordon’s 17 year reign at the Crossroads Motel.”

Goodbye Meg

And what a ‘reign’ it was.

Across the UK, and in the Midlands especially, Noele was like royalty – visiting TV transmitters, making public appearances, opening shops and fetes, promoting charities….

Who can forget the scenes of 1975’s ‘royal wedding’ when Meg and Hugh finally tied the knot? Birmingham City Centre brought to a standstill as thousands upon thousands of well-wishers lined the streets… souvenir magazines and records for sale in the shops…

Of course, Noele was no stranger to royalty.

Opening of Broad Street Studios in 1970

In 1970, Princess Alexadra (the queen’s cousin) opened the new ATV studios at Broad Street in Birmingham. During the royal visit, Nolly performed a feinting scene – much to the amusement / bemusement of the royal guest.

Noele Gordon - Royal Variety Performance 1974

She holds the distinction of being the first female host of the Royal Variety Performance in 1974 where she met HRH The Queen Mother.

Noele Gordon and Princess Anne

She met Princess Anne at silver jubilee gala and (on another royal visit to the studios) even had to explain to Prince Phillip why an actress was dressed as a woman of “easy virtue”. Apparently, during this visit, Prince Philip told Noele that he and the queen sometimes watched Crossroads.

Ann George and Prince Philip

Understandable really – but  I wonder if the queen has a ‘Meg and Hugh’ commemorative LP in her sideboard…

Sunday, 10 February 2019

PAUL "BENNY" HENRY - WAITING AT THE CROSSROADS


ANOTHER SOAP STAR MUSIC RELEASE...  THE TRICKY SECOND SINGLE


Crossroads was no stranger to the pop-charts over the course of its original run. I have already looked at a couple of releases: Sue Nicholls’ “Where Will You Be?” and IanPatterson’s “ANDY From The Television Series CROSSROADS Singing…

Today I turn my attention to “Paul ‘Benny’ Henry – ‘Waiting at the Crossroads’”.

No really.

Paul had already had something of a minor hit with “Benny’s Theme”, a song he performed in the show circa 1977 – It was often used to accompany the storyline concerning the death of Benny’s fiancĂ©, Maureen.  “Benny’s Theme” was released by Pye Records  in 1978, and in it, Paul was accompanied by the Mayson  Glen  Orchestra . It peaked at no. 39 in the UK Singles Chart in January 1978.

The follow up was “Waiting At The Crossroads” and it was released as a 7” single around December 12th 1980.

It was the first release on the “PEL” label, and a little bit of internet searching shows they had a “varied” list of artistes in the catalogue. Okay then. Three.

P001 – Paul “Benny” Henry – Waiting at the Crossroads / Love Affair.
P002 – Bernie Winters – Financially / Give Me a Cockney Song.
P003 – Mike Reid – The Patient’s Lament / The Bedpan Song.

The record repeats the trick employed by the Theatre Royal in Norwich when advertising their pantomime as featuring “Benny” – Let’s not forget just how popular the character was with the British public in the late 1970’s / early 1980’s.

Some ‘wag’ on the internet has commented (perhaps rightly) that the catalogue number is actually “POO 1” – and therefore a damning indictment of the record itself – and to be fair – it’s not my cup of tea.

I won’t bore you with the full lyrics here, but at one point Paul, no Benny…. even sings about his little woollen hat….

Here I am
Waiting at the Crossroads
Waiting at the Crossroads of my life.

Here I am
Waiting at the Crossroads
Hoping that someday I’ll meet a wife.

I know I’m not a very smart kind of chap.
But I’ll give her all I’ve got to give.

I would even give her my little woollen hat.
If with me she’d live

What the record does have in its favour is that the music video that was filmed to accompany the release…Benny – I mean Paul – No I mean Benny – walks around Gas Street Basin in Birmingham City Centre and interacts with various stray animals. He then retraces his steps, walks through some discarded plastic spoons…. Well they look like plastic spoons…



Gas Street Basin was literally down the round from the ATV studios where Crossroads was filmed, and the basin itself was often used as a location in the series.  In the video it is looking a little tatty – and I have to say that it looks a lot better these days.

The record was produced by Johnny Franks. The Music Associate was Ted Taylor and the sound engineer was Steve Taylor. “Waiting at the Crossroads” was written by David Rome and Tony Martell. The disc was manufactured and distributed by Spartan Records.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is probably everything you ever really wanted to know about this particular record…..Except (of course) a link to watch the video online…

Sunday, 3 February 2019

VERY VERY VERY LARGE FIGURINE. DID I MENTION IT WAS LARGE?


FIGURINE FROM MEG'S BUREAU - REPLICA


Okay – THIS time I have definitely gone too far. In fact my wife says that it can’t live next to other items in my collection - on top of the piano – in case the kids’ piano teacher sees it…but what could be so awful that it cannot see the light of day?

A figurine…

Quite a large figurine….

To be exact, a 13 inch porcelain figure of a dandy with questionable proportions and a very strange taste in fashion!

The figurine itself was a long-standing part of Meg’s sitting room and its first surviving appearance is in episode 497 from November 1966. 

First surviving appearance in Episode 497

The last appearance was Episode 3005 in September 1978 – There is no reference in the story-line to its disappearance after ten years.

It last appeared in Episode 3005 - September 1978
By Episode 3023 it was gone!

The figure had survived the various different colour schemes...

Late 1960's

Early 1970's

Mid 1970's

It is marked “G Girardi – ITALY – 670” on the base.

After a little bit of online searching I believe the designer of this piece was Giovanni Girardi. There are a fair few “Girardi” figures online at the moment with similar writing on them.  According to one online source:

During the years prior to the Second World War, Sculptor and modeller Giovanni Girardi was a former collaborator and Master of Design and Painting at the Torino based 'Lenci' studio.

The factory of the “Girardi Brothers” was opened in 1945.

This figurine has been bugging me for years – I have searched and searched – online and in antique shops, junk shops and in charity shops. Yet again – and quite remarkably – it came up as a suggestion on ebay based on my previous search criteria.

Just goes to show that when it comes to collecting, you should never give up hope!

How it survived for so long is a mystery, when you consider it was so close to the edge of the set!

G. Girardi 670 ITALY


Sunday, 23 September 2018

CROSSROADS INSULT - BADGE!


I'D RATHER WATCH CROSSROADS THAN NOTTS. COUNTY

Throughout the run of the series, Crossroads was often seen as a joke by TV critics, despite the enormous affection that it was held in by the viewers. It is very easy today to forget that Crossroads was regularly watched by numbers exceeding 13 million viewers.

We’ve all heard the digs about performances that were more wooden than the cardboard scenery – although I’m yet to be convinced that Crossroads was more guilty for having wobbly walls than any other programme of the time – Yet sadly for Crossroads, it was “mud” that stuck.

And with this in mind, I come to the reason for making this post – Another recent ebay purchase that demonstrates the ridicule that the series so often received….

“I’d rather watch Crossroads than Notts. County” badge.

Now I don’t think this is an ‘official’ piece of merchandise, although I could be wrong. It is engraved red plastic – and therefore is likely to have been a “Nottingham Forest” supporter’s badge.

Midlands football fans are fiercely loyal to their clubs - and suggesting that watching Crossroads is preferable to watching a County match would indeed have been an insult! I don't really understand the complexities of Midlands football club rivalry - but there is an interesting article about it HERE.

There really isn’t much else to say about this, but it did get me thinking about other instances of Crossroads being insulted  - or used as an insult over the years…

It can take sixteen episodes of Crossroads. (If you can.) - Radio Rentals

There is of course the famous “Radio Rentals” advert for a long player video recorder – “It can take sixteen episodes of Crossroads – (if you can)” – and recently I found the following old postcard for sale on ebay, suggesting that “blonde” women were the main viewers of Soap Operas.

Bliey Lady - Don't you ever watch Crossroads? - Postcard

“Blimey lady - Don’t you watch Crossroads!!”
“Course I do officer – and Coronation Street!”

How rude! Still - it could be worse I suppose - I could be an Eldorado fan.*


* I am actually an Eldorado fan too....

Thursday, 20 September 2018

UNIFORM BADGE - FROM WHEN?


A CROSSROADS MOTEL UNIFORM BADGE - BUT FROM WHEN?

I love this item. It recently came up for sale on ebay and it is exactly the sort of thing that fits in really well with my collection. In actual fact the seller had two available -a clean one, and this "used" looking one. Sadly I missed out on the clean one, but this is great and I have to say really makes me smile.

Well it does now. You see, it took absolutely ages to find in the series. The ebay seller was the husband of someone that used to work in the wardrobe department at ATV / Central Television during the 1970s and 1980's and therefore the provenance of the item is excellent.

In fact I happened to be watching an episode the other day when the lady in question's name came up in the credits. However, because there was a fairly long time-span involved I had to watch many episodes to try to find out exactly where (and when) the badge was from.

The ebay listing said it was a waitress badge - but after reviewing many, many, many episodes, I decided that it was not actually one of these.

As a side note, you can find an oustanding page about Crossroads branding on the CAS official site HERE - and I highly recommend it for trivia buffs.

Anyway, a few examples of 'similar' badges can be seen throughout the series - here are one or two...





As you can see - all similar, but either the wrong colour, or the wrong size.

In the end I had to call in expert help and I consulted Mike Garrett at the Crossroads Appreciation Society - almost instantly - he said that it looked like the badge worn by Patrick Jordan as Mr. Darby in the 1985/1986 episodes.

A quick YouTube search revealed that he was absolutely right...

Mr Darby and Roy wearing matching badges...
Mr Darby and Daniel Freeman
Daniel gets his own badge - white on black - a 1970's one?

A close-up from a publicity still of Patrick Jordan showing the correct colour combination.


So there you go - a great addition to the collection - an original costume item from the 1980's. My thanks to Mike at CAS - and it just goes to show that there is always someone more knowledgeable than yourself!

On a side note - if any ATV or Central staff members have anything in their colletion, please do get in touch!