Sunday, 28 August 2016

Signed Photos


AUTOGRAPHS....

"Can I have a signed photo please?" For many of us - hearing a caller manage to get this request into the end of a phone-in on Saturday Superstore or Swap Shop was always impressive. Despite the show's hosts desperately trying to move on, this 'final-moment' chance to snatch a lasting souvenir of contact with a TV idol or pop star was always a triumph.

Of course you didn't have to phone-in to request a signed photo of the stars of Crossroads... A polite letter (ideally with a stamped / addressed envelope) would usually result in an autographed photo-card finding its way back to you... although in some cases, after a fairly long wait as the hectic schedules of the actors and the snail-mail of the day are no match for today's almost instant "tweet-a-celeb" culture.

Quite why we loved a signed photo is easy to understand - It was a little bit of contact with the glittery world of show-biz - it was a chance to own something that our favourite personality had touched... Something we could believe was made especially for us.


VHS "Classic Crossroads"


CLASSIC CROSSROADS - INTRODUCED BY JANE ROSSINGTON (...Or not)

Before the advent of DVD's or online video sites there was only one way to re-watch episodes of our favourite show... These wonderful VHS releases. Not quite as compact as the beautiful Betamax, they were a welcome addition to the shelf for any fan of Crossroads.

As you can see above, the same video was released twice with different covers. The first by "Central Video" (left) and the second by "NTV" (right) . Both proclaim that Jane Rossington will be introducing the episodes - but the first version I owned (NTV) definitely didn't have anything from her.

"THE WEDDING"
"THE FIRE"
"MEG'S FAREWELL"

The original Central release contained several edits to the episodes - notably the Iris and Mavis scenes from the Fire episode and "We are Sailing" being replaced as the credits rolled on "Meg's Farewell".

On the NTV release the episodes are labelled "Classic CROSSROADS" and it is certainly true that these are the most iconic.

So if you're feeling nostalgic and want to watch a slightly fuzzy / poor-tracking / picture rolling version of the programme, fetch the top-loader from the attic, attach your RF cable to the socket on your telly and settle down with a cup of tea and a digestive.




The VHS advertised for sale after the last episode aired in 1988
Eamon Holmes showing the video on "Open Air" 1988
Jane Rossington introduces...

News article from the early 1990s



Saturday, 27 August 2016

Skillful and Exciting - or cheap "Monopoly" knock-off?


"A SKILLFUL AND EXCITING GAME OF MOTEL MANAGEMENT FOR UP TO 4 PLAYERS (Ages 8 - Adult)"

Well, Delta Pastimes LTD really pulled out all the stops when they made this game, dated 1977. David, Sandy, Jill and Meg look poised with excitement on the cover... David has a full on kipper-tie, Meg appears to be wearing a carpet and there are two dial telephones in pride of place on the reception desk. The predominant colours are brown and orange. It couldn't really get more 1970's if it tried.

Inside there are some coloured plastic pieces that look a bit like top-hats, some larger "Cluedo" style playing pieces, and some smaller "Cluedo" style playing pieces.

There are cards - a bit like "Monopoly" that say things such as:

"Wine waitress breaks glasses, pay £15 to bank"
"Salon extra busy - Collect £30 from bank"
"You make savings on home grown produce - Collect £20 from bank"

There is "Crossroads Motel" money... and "Room Cards" featuring photographs from the set. The playing board is split into quarters, representing the four main characters...

Players become Jill, Sandy, David and Meg - and aim to promote three coloured staff pieces and....

Oh I don't know.

Really I don't.

I've got two of these board games and I've never played it.

Not once.

I can't tell you whether you need to be skillful - or whether it is really that exciting. I guess it must be like "Monopoly"... Anyway - who cares? Its daft - it looks good and it makes me smile to think that one day - if I get the urge to sample a life of motel management - I can take it off the shelf and have a go.

The Crossroads Story


THE CROSSROADS STORY by GEOFF TIBBALLS

"The official guide to Crossroads past and present, including the all-new Crossroads from ITV."

This is a rarity for two reasons. It is the only piece of merchandise that covers BOTH the original and newer series. It is also the ONLY piece of merchandise that covers the newer series. As you can see from the cover, it makes no distinction between the two. This is a controversial standpoint to take for many fans, who see the updated series as separate from the original. It does not cover the characters or plots from the 2003 series.

According to Amazon: "Geoff Tibballs started his writing career as a journalist on the Watford Observer. A former press officer for ATV/Central Television, he is the author of many books on television programmes including London's Burning, Brookside, Soldier, Soldier and Cold Feet. He is also the author of Carlton's best-selling book, Titanic. A long-time fan of Crossroads, when working at ATV the author managed to get his mother tickets to watch Meg and Hugh's wedding. He lives in Nottingham, where the new series is being filmed."

I love this book. There are one or two inaccuracies - mainly in terms of dates but the book is lavishly illustrated and covers a great deal of the history in a light-hearted and interesting way. 

There isn't really that much else to say about it.

ISBN: 1-84222-391-7
Published by Carlton Books 2001

Incidentally - Carlton Books were based in "Mortimer" Street when this was published. Fate? Maybe.

Strangely, some sites show this cover for "The Crossroads Story" - and the author is listed as Richard Webber.


Crossroads Wedding Party


CROSSROADS WEDDING PARTY - PYE RECORDS

Apart from the fire of 1981, the most famous storyline of all was the 1975 wedding of Meg Richardson to Hugh Mortimer. There was a magazine special you could buy to commemorate the occasion - and let's not forget the thousands of people that turned up on the streets of Birmingham to witness the occasion. Meg's wedding was a HUGE deal at the time!

This LP is a snapshot of the success of the show. Before many homes had a video recorder, this was a way of re-living the wedding, again and again.

Side 1 features the Crossroads theme and highlights from the wedding blessing episode. There are hymns from the choir, including "The Lord is my Shepherd" and even Stephanie De Sykes singing "We'll Find Our Day" - as featured at the wedding reception.

Side 2 has a "cast chorus medley" singing such classics as "Love and Marriage"  and "For Me and My Girl" - and John Bentley 'singing' "The Girl That I Marry" as well as Noele Gordon doing a turn, singing "The Heather on the Hill"

Okay - now we can re-watch the wedding again and again - thanks to VHS and DVD releases - and the odd illegal upload to You-Tube or repeats on local TV stations.... But just stop and think how excited your Nan must have been to get this at home....

It's nostalgic, entertaining and just a little bit mad. I love it.


Win a Day at Crossroads!


THE OFFICIAL 1982 CROSSROADS SPECIAL

The change between "Crossroads" of 1981 and 1982 was huge. Meg had left in November 1981, to sail off into the distance and the infamous fire meant that there was a whole new - modern look to the show. Central Television took the opportunity to promote the new look programme with this wonderful publication from Grandreams.

The 1982 Special is fantastic. It gives a glimpse into the new look motel and features a great potted history of Crossroads. The memory of Meg looms large though, and she is mentioned on virtually every page.

By far the most obscure feature is "If you want to get ahead, get a hat" which features Susan Hanson, Merdelle Jordine, Carolyn Jones, Jane Rossington and Lynette McMorrough... wearing different hats.

It allows you to sample "Cuisine a la Crossroads" and find out about the "Crossroads Care" scheme - as well as giving you the opportunity to "Win a Day at Crossroads". (Closing date March 1983)

The best bit about the 1982 Crossroads Special is that (in some copies) there is  a blank page. The feature about Jane Rossington just stops half way through a sentence. It's like the physical embodiment of forgetting your lines - which (given the show's reputation) seems apt.

Blank Page!


Press Pack 2001


CROSSROADS PRESS PACK (2001)

If you're launching a swanky new series, in a swanky London hotel, on Valentine's Day 2001, you definitely need a swanky press pack... and this is it.

A red cardboard folder with embossed gold coloured Crossroads logo, contained a "Press Information" document, a "Who's Who" of cast members and a Hotel Brochure.

"Carlton Television's revival of CROSSROADS will be the centrepiece of ITV's daytime schedule, showing five days a week at lunchtime and teatime...

...Among the returning stars from the CROSSROADS hall of fame is Jane Rossington. As Jill Harevy, Jane spoke the opening line in the very first episode of the original series and she is at the heart of one of the most dramatic storylines of the new series."

As a fan of Jill and Adam in the original series, this was wonderful to hear at the time. I remember the excitement that I felt when I first found out the series was to return....There are some great pieces of information in the documents...

"Sarah-Jane Harvey (Joanne Farrell)

Jill Harvey's sexy and manipulative daughter, 25 year old Sarah Jane sees the hotel as her birthright. She and her mother have been estranged for many years. She is a shrewd operator - another Meg Richardson in the making."

...only it turns out - she wasn't. Ah well.

It's fantastic reading through the press pack - the optimism, the excitement, the positivity. There are plenty of references to the original series to keep continuity fans happy and a real sense that this was the continuation of an adventure put on hold 13 years before.

These often crop up on auction sites, even today. For a healthy piece of nostalgia and optimism you could do far worse than get hold of one of these!

I would watch!



Join Meg for a cuppa...


ENCORE BY GAYDON TEA SET

Whilst not officially a "Crossroads" item, a tea set like this was used in the show from the very early years. It isn't ceramic, it is melamine. "Practically" unbreakable -  it was ideal for use in the series. It is also much quieter than traditional ceramics and perfect for use when scenes needed to be prepared off-camera.

Popular in the 1950's and 1960's, melamine was seen as a fashionable alternative to ceramics - and reflected the modern atmosphere of a new fangled motel.

Often the cups, saucers and plates would be stacked in the kitchen set, but occasionally Meg and a friend or guest would grab a quick cuppa in some of these.

They are readily available on auction sites, but the prices have gone up in recent years. Perfect for picnics, retro collectors... or (ahem) pretending you're having a cup of tea with Meg.












Jigsaw Puzzle


CROSSROADS MOTEL PUZZLER 240 BY HESTAIR PUZZLES

In July 1978 the government published its White Paper on broadcasting with a proposal to introduce a service on the fourth TV channel - but for fans of Crossroads, and with the heady excitement of "Twice Nightly" Richard Whitely on "Countdown" still four years away, there was only one way of entertaining yourself between episodes of your favourite soap...

The Hestair Puzzles "Crossroads Motel" 240 piece jigsaw puzzle.

Featuring such iconic images as Meg looking bored on the telephone, David Hunter drinking booze in a variety of settings, Jill lounging seductively on the sofa, Meg and Shughie laughing at his latest culinary masterpiece and Jim Baines playing with his balls in a silky kimono. Seriously.

For fans of the rotary dial telephone there are no less than 5 examples on this jigsaw.

As far as I can tell there were two different jigsaws produced. The other features the cast in Meg's sitting room - and is far less interesting. No booze. No rotary telephones. In fact, both of my jigsaws are still sealed in their plastic bags inside the boxes. Makes you wonder what they were up to in 1978...



The 45th Anniversary DVD Box Set


With a running time of 6250 minutes there is no denying that for the Crossroads fan, this item is a must-have. Released in 2009 it contains (nearly) every surviving episode of Crossroads from 1964 to mid 1979... Not only that - with great sound and picture quality - these episodes probably look better than they did on their original broadcast!

Originally released as 21 separate DVDs, this box set was a great (and cheap) way of collecting these episodes. It was released by Network to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the show and was advertised by Diane Parker  herself (Sue Hanson)  on a variety of daytime TV programmes...

Sue Hanson on "Loose Women"
Sue Hanson on "Alan Tichmarsh"

It is my understanding that this box-set sold really well, and built on the healthy sales of the previous DVD releases. I bought mine for around £69 in a sale... but recently the set has been selling for over £300 on sites like ebay and Amazon.

What is the reason for such a hike in price? Availability I'm afraid...

So why is it no longer available?

During the London riots of 2011 the warehouse containing stocks of the box-set was set alight and all were destroyed.

What about the fans lucky enough to get the set? Well we sat and enjoyed the story lines... Then we got cross about the fact that no episodes exist from the earliest days of the show. (The earliest episode is 126 from 1965). The we lamented the fact that there are only about 7 episodes from the whole of 1975... and then we were left hanging in May 1979...

The DVD releases stopped in 2009 with this boxset.

In the late 1990s, UK Gold showed episodes December 1981 onwards - (See Here) and copies of some of these episodes are available online - But from May 1979 to December 1981 there are episodes that haven't been seen since their original transmission.

If you're lucky enough to find one - snap it up!

Nothing says "Crossroads" like...

Crossroads Motel Stainless Steel Roasting and Carving Dish

THE COLAG BRAND "CROSSROADS MOTEL" STAINLESS STEEL ROASTING AND CARVING DISH!

Picture the scene - 1966 - A  housewife opening her birthday present from an eager husband. He knows she loves watching that new television programme, "Crossroads" - and he appreciates the way she lovingly prepares the family meal each night when he comes in from work. His slippers are probably already warming by the fire - and his pipe filled on the arm of his chair.

He can't wait to see her face as she opens the gift he has lovingly selected from the  local branch of Woolworths... It combines her love of TV AND cooking! She tears open the paper and is greeted with the sight of the Colag Brand "Crossroads Motel Stainless Steel Roasting and Carving Dish".

?

Quite.

Exactly what link the Colag Brand "Crossroads Motel Stainless Steel Roasting and Carving Dish" has to do with Crossroads is anyone's guess. The picture of the chef on the front doesn't even look like Carlos!

Perhaps I'm being pedantic - look at the plethora of TV tie-in merchandise you can buy today. Modern TV programmes and films have "brand managers" to oversee this sort of thing. I'm sure we've all seen the "Doctor Who" pencils, school back-packs and tins of spaghetti inspired by (if not ever actually used by) the characters in the show.

I've got to admit that I've always been fascinated by this item - ever since I first learned about it. With a copyright date of 1966 on the box, it was possible even the first piece of Crossroads merchandise ever released.

If you're wondering, apparently the 18/8 on the box refers to the quality of the stainless steel. These figures relate to the chromium and nickel contents of the steel. 18/8 is probably the most commonly used stainless steel and contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel.

From a Century 21 Merchandise Catalogue 1966