Sunday, 9 February 2020

WHERE'S WILF?


CAST PHOTOS OF MORRIS PARSONS

The charity connections for Crossroads are well established. I have talked before about the Crossroads Care organisation that was set up as part of an ongoing story-line within the programme, but I am pleased to say that many of the actors involved in the show were also well known to use their “celebrity” status to help various good-causes over the years.

Morris Parsons with fistfuls of photographs which he turns into money for charity

Recently the scrapbooks of Morris Parsons were donated to the collection. Alongside the TV Times listings and the ATV mementos is a really lovely record of the personal appearances and charity work that Morris was asked to undertake. There were also many, many, MANY cast photographs that you can  see in the image above. The article states that Morris raised "an astonishing £1,268" for one charity by selling signed photographs of himself.

So today, no witty comments or funny remarks, just a brief look at the fantastic work of man, who was by-all-accounts, a lovely gentleman and a  great ambassador for the show.

Morris joined the cast of the show in February 1971 and very  quickly established himself as the “man you love to hate” – the grumpy father of Stan and Sheila Harvey. The first TV Times listing that was kept was from Tuesday March 2nd 1971.

By Tuesday March 23rd, Morris had joined the rest of the cast on a visit to Jersey as part of the 1500 episodes celebration and filming of Jill and Stan’s honeymoon. He was interviewed about his time in Guernsey in the mid 1930’s and again in the 1940’s.

Another  “Crossroads” related article in his scrapbook is a brief interview with the Leicester Mercury from May 18th 1971, where he discusses visiting his cousin in Leicester. In fact he reveals that it has become something of a “second home” whilst living in London and filming in Birmingham. Over the years, Morris supported many charities, at "home", in the Midlands and further afield....

The first two “charity” related items that were included were as follows:


Carnival of Roses Garden Fete - Saturday June 19th 1971

A newspaper advert for the “Carnival of Roses Garden Fete” in the grounds of the Leicester General Hospital, on Saturday June 19th 1971 at 2:30pm, with all proceeds going to the hospital.

Earl Shilton Junior School June 1971

Photograph from Morris Parsons' collection

News report on the Carnival Day at Earl Shilton

Also on Saturday June 19th was a personal appearance at the “Earl Shilton Junior School Garden Fete and Carnival”, with all proceeds going towards a heated swimming pool for the school.

A letter from the Parents' Association of Earl Shilton Junior School

It is clear that Morris kept in touch with the children at the school and the scrapbooks contain a lovely letter from the Parents' Association that thank him for his time and the "joy and pleasure" that he brought to the occasions.

The next articles concern the Stourport Carnival, 1971, where Morris was invited to crown the carnival queen. Apparently the event was attended by 30,000 people and by the time Morris performed his duties he had been given a black eye after being hit in the eye by a coin whilst travelling in the parade - truly suffering for his art, but never shirking his responsibilities!





Personal appearances continued throughout the early 1970’s to help raise funds for many different causes.

July 1972

It is wonderful to read some of the correspondence kept by Morris and Mona in the scrapbooks. The letter above is just one example where the sender thanks Morris for his efforts to support those in need. It is said that "a man is known by the company he keeps", and if the letters are anything to go by, it is clear that the people Morris meets consider him a dear and true friend.

One event that is particularly well documented in the scrapbooks is his appearance at the annual “Hostel of St. John fete” at Saumarez Park, Guernsey on August 3rd 1972 - which was held to raise funds for the elderly residents of the hostel.




Morris Parsons as Wilf Harvey - Pigeon release!
Photo from Morris Parsons' collection


Sunday 17th September 1972 involved a “Gala Afternoon” on the Barwell Athletic Sports Field, Kirkby Road, Barwell” in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Gala Afternoon - Barwell Athletic Field, 1972.

A letter thanking Morris for "radiating happiness" at the event

Another event was the opening of the “Lapal Scout Group Autumn Fayre” on Saturday October 7th 1972, which raised £240 towards the group’s running expenses. It involved a ‘pigeon release’ and Morris donated a cloth cap and muffler  to the event.



Letter thanking Morris for his presence and for advertising the even - Lapal Scout Group

The next day, October 8th 1972 saw Morris attend an event in Portsmouth –trains were laid on by the Sunday Mercury, which took 840 ticket holders on a trip on board a special cruise in the Solent.



On Saturday 21st October 1972, Morris was invited to the “50th Annual Dinner” of the “Royal Naval Association” and on Sunday October 21st, he narrated a hymn service at Earl Shilton Parish Church which was attended by approximately 550 people and raised £176 for the church.

On Saturday 4th November, Morris was guest of honour at the opening of the Druid’s Heath Autumn Fair for Dr. Barnardo’s, and the next Saturday (November 11th) it was the Christmas Bazaar for the Leicester General Hospital League of Friends.

Later in November he opened the fourth annual “Scoubadoo Autumn Fair” to raise funds for the Scout Group. According to a news report he was “he most popular attraction” and “spent a considerable time raising cash from autographing photographs” and helped raise £150.

He is quoted as saying that the Crossroads actors "spend many hours a week lending their services to organisations on charitable work of one sort or another. On their travels they meet many unfortunate people, and ‘you people should count your blessings and remember there are others worse off than yourself.’”

What comes across in the scrapbooks is the idea that Morris was aware that his popularity could be used to support a variety of causes.

It is an honour and pleasure to look after them.

Finally, just a few more lovely examples from the collection...




Morris and Mona raising money and signing autographs

Carry on Wilf.


Sunday, 2 February 2020

VINTAGE CAR POSTCARD


ATV VINTAGE CAR POSTCARD - THE MYSTERY OF HARRIET...


I’ve spoken before about the way that the collection has taken on a life of its own – and I’ve also spoken about how there is now  a model MG Maestro on the shelf. Today I’m looking at another car…or at least a postcard of a vintage car.

“What on earth does that have to do with Crossroads?” I hear you ask. Well actually quite a lot…

The vintage car in question is a Morris Oxford Flatnose, originally built in 1927, but considered nothing but scrap metal by 1964…

Details on the reverse

In 1973 it was found by ATV in a poor condition at a garage in Brownhills, Staffordshire.

With the co-operation of the Automobile Association, the car was restored by British Leyland Austin Morris apprentices, and its progress was covered by the nightly regional news programme “ATV Today”.

Amazingly, you can actually watch a compilation of these ATV reports on the MACE website and learn about the level of expertise that went into the restoration.

ATV Reports on the restoration of the car

The car was given the name “Harriet” and was introduced into the story-line of Crossroads. It became a much sought after attraction at carnivals and fetes throughout the Midlands.

Harriet on display in 1974 - CLICK HERE

"Timothy Hunter has written to Meg asking her to look after Harriet when she arrives. But who is Harriet? And why does a woman who  books in as Harriet Blair, a day earlier than expected, deny all knowledge of Timothy?"

TV Times (ATV / Midland for 24-06-74)

"Meg introduces the long-awaited Harriet, and everyone is astonished."

TV Times (ATV / Midland for 25-06-74)

Sadly, the episodes featuring Harriet have been lost or wiped so no footage of the car in the programme exist – although there is a news report from late 1974 where Bev Smith introduces Noele Gordon to the car.

Nolly meets Harriet

I am pleased to tell you that the car is still going strong, and was recently sold. You can find links to the sales site below, which also includes some amazing photographs of what the car looks like today.

www.aston.co.uk - see links below



Of course, fans of Crossroads will know that vintage cars were associated with the programme for many years. Another ebay purchase , although not an official piece of merchandise, is a copy of a picture that was seen in the chalet set for many years. It is most noticeable in the episodes where Mr. Booth and his wife, Helen are staying at the motel from 1979.

Rolls Royce picture in the motel chalet - 1979
George A Oliver print of a Rolls Royce 40/50

The picture in question is that of a Rolls Royce 40/50 “Silver Ghost” Roi-des-Belges (1908)

According to what I have found out on the internet, the print dates from approximately 1959 and is taken from a collection by George A. Oliver called "Early motor cars 1904-1915", published by Hugh Evelyn Ltd, 9 Fitzroy Square London.

There are currently a couple available on the usual online auction sites – should you wish to recreate the chalet set in your own home…

The image size is approximately 46.5 x 35.0cm or 18.5 x 13.75 inches.

Original 1960s reception area of the Crossroads Motel

Finally, here’s a quick look at the original 1960’s reception area for the Crossroads Motel, featuring a lovely image of a vintage car above the doors.

1985 Rally Bar

And one more image from the later years of the show – In 1985 the “Rally Bar” featured – you guessed it – pictures of vintage cars!

I definitely won't be able to afford a vintage car for the collection - but I can just about manage a postcard!

Sunday, 15 December 2019

CROSSROADS 1500 EPISODES INVITATION


1500 EPISODES BUT NO REASON TO CELEBRATE!

In 1971, Crossroads reached an unprecedented milestone. 1500 episodes.  No other British drama series had come anywhere close to clocking up that many editions and ATV went all-out to celebrate the achievement.

Recently, I took possession of a collection of items from the family of Morris Parsons, better known as Wilf Harvey. The collection included his scrapbooks and various other pieces which I will include on this site over the coming months.

The items at the top of this page are his invitation and menu for a  luncheon that was held at ATV Centre to celebrate the occasion in June 1971* but this was merely the tip-of-the-iceberg when it came to celebrating…

Victor Ernest Turton, the Mayor of Birmingham tours the set with Lew Grade and Noele Gordon - Crossroads Fan Club
Noele Gordon presented with a silver tray to commemorate 1500 episodes of Crossroads - Crossroads Fan Club



In real life, the cast of Crossroads took a plane to Jersey for a celebratory trip. Footage from Channel TV HERE captures a brief, and slightly risqué interview with Roger Tonge, while Noele Gordon recalls that her previous visit to the Channel Islands, (September 1970) when she travelled with Ann George, was cut short due to a burglary at her home in Ross on Wye.

Jane Rossington, Noele Gordon and Roger Tonge interviewed for Channel Television
The Evening News reports on the burglary at Noele Gordon's home - 18.09.70

Mace Archive HERE contains a news report about a special cake that was produced to mark the milestone, which was to be cut into 1500 pieces by none other than Noele Gordon herself (19.05.71) and  the surviving “ATV Today”material includes some 16mm film taken at the airport in Jersey. (24.03.71)

Noele Gordon, Lew Grade and a VERY large cake! - Crossroads Fan Club

The TV Times Crossroads Special celebrating 1500 episodes in 1971
An advert for the Crossroads 1500 Episodes Special Magazine.

Fans of the series could get in on the act by purchasing a special TV Times Special Magazine that featured photographs from the earliest episodes in 1964, right up to images taken “behind the scenes” of episodes yet to air. There were interviews with the cast and crew and it is actually really informative. It originally cost 15p but it regularly comes up on online auction sites for a little more.

Crossroads Cast relaxing at La Place Hotel, Jersey

In the magazine the cast are pictured at various locations around Jersey taken during the trip mentioned above,  and in particular “La Place Hotel”. Interestingly, in episode 1481, (April 1971) Meg is flicking through a leaflet advertising the very same hotel… (its name obscured by Noele’s thumb )

La Place Hotel, Jersey. Crossroads Episode 1481

Noele's thumb protecting ATV from falling fowl of strict advertising rules.

The Mace caption for the Jersey clip suggests that some scenes were also filmed for inclusion within the programme, which indeed they were, as Jersey was chosen as the location for Stan and Jill’s honeymoon…

Morris Parsons’ scrapbook contains a couple of articles about the trip to Jersey, and you can read these below.

(Article to follow)

Interesting details include the fact that a special reception was held at Channel Television, followed by a dinner at La Place Hotel given by the States Tourism Committee -  The article (Tuesday, March 23, 1971) specifically mentions Morris’ connection to the Chanel Islands and talks about him living in Guernsey for two years from 1935.

Celebrating 1500 episodes of Crossroads at Walford Hall, Baschurch

Back in Britain, Noele and Roger had also returned to the village of Baschurch and Shropshire Farming Institute for a photo-call in a lovely looking car with a special XRD 1500 number plate. The 1500 Special Magazine comments on this…

I watched Noele on location at the Shropshire Farm Institute at Baschurch - the "model" for the Crossroads motel - where despite unavoidable delays in intense cold she remained calm, patient and helpful.  Having given up most of her lunch-hour to a picture session she then found time to give an impromptu stand-up interview to the local newspaper


TV Times celebrates 1500 episodes of Crossroads

Crossroads – or at least Noele Gordon was granted a TV Times cover (May 22nd 1971). Interestingly this was the week that colour TV came to several ITV regions, including Westward.

Finally, of course, there was the big celebration episode, in which members of the cast from the previous 7 years returned in scenes reminiscent of “This Is Your Life”. TV Personality Godfrey Winn returned to the motel for his second visit as a way of framing the flashbacks and returning cast.

Special Listing for Episode 1500


So, with far-flung location visits, Special Edition magazines, and covers, newspaper articles and special luncheons it seems only fitting that I link to the episode on YouTube so that you can enjoy the celebration for yourself…

…but sadly I can’t as the episode was wiped and no longer exists in the archive. The closest survivor is Episode 1495 from May 1971, which features nothing relating to the special.

Even more frustrating is the fact that the next available episode isn’t until number 1674 from March 1874, ten months later!

Imagine that! 10 months of episodes that no longer exist. All the effort, all the work, all the time and expense that went into making the episodes, and they were wiped to reuse the tapes.  Of course it IS possible that someone somewhere actually recorded this special episode, but as the years go by its survival is looking increasingly unlikely – which is certainly no cause for celebration!

*
The menu for the luncheon was as follows....

Clear Turtle Soup with Sherry
Cheese Straws

Cold Roast Sirloin of Beef
York Ham
Roast English Turkey
Supreme of Chicken Jeanette
Assorted Salads
Parslied New Potatoes

Fresh Fruit Salad Hawaii
Dairy Cream

Cheshire Stilton Brie
Biscuits

Coffee