Sunday, 30 October 2016

REAL OR FAKE I : CAR PARK SIGN



CROSS ROADS MOTEL CAR PARK SIGN

A few years ago I bought this from ebay. It was advertised as possibly having been made for the TV series. The seller (who lived near Gloucestershire) pointed out that one of the motels used during filming was based not far from where they lived - and suggested that this might explain how and why it was found in the area.

The question remains as to whether it is real or fake - or indeed whether it really does have a connection to the programme at all. The sign is painted on hardboard, which has been attached to a solid wood base. There are two metal brackets that can be used to "hook" the sign into position.

So what do you think? Real or Fake?

The case for:

  • The wording on the sign "Crossroads Motel"
  • The fact that it would have been easy to lift into position on location (and remove)
  • The age of the sign
  • It appears to be made from non-water resistant paint - more for looks than effectiveness.

The case against:

  • It isn't marked as ATV / Central scenery in any way
  • There are other "real life" motels with this name
  • It doesn't appear in any existing episodes (although there are many from 1979-1981 that I have not seen)


Thursday, 27 October 2016

ADAM AND JILL'S WEDDING ALBUM - 2001 VERSION


ADAM AND JILL'S WEDDING ALBUM - SCREEN USED PROP

Why is this interesting? Well it was proof positive that the 2001 series and the original series were meant to be one and the same. The album was made for the 2001 series in a deliberately "vintage" style. It features many photographs from Adam and Jill's wedding and reception in 1983. The attention to detail is very good - even listing the name of the church used in the programme. 

The "best man" details are left blank - which is strange, as the photos and the episode itself make it clear that David Hunter (Ronnie Allen) was the best man.

Other characters that appear in the album include Sharon Metcalfe, Sid Hooper, Mavis Hooper, Sarah-Jane Harvey, Kath Brownlow and Barbara Hunter - although these appear only fleetingly.

The album was given to me following a clear-out at the studios - and is something which I treasure enormously. 

It featured in Episode 40 (TX:27/04/01)

Interestingly, footage from the 1983 wedding episode features in Episode 34 (TX:19/04/01). I remember being really excited to see such blatant continuity references so early in the new series.

Best Man - Blank

The Wedding Guests

The Happy Couple
Screen Grab: Original Series Cast seen on screen (Episode 40)

Screen Grab: Jill looks at the photo album (Episode 40)

Screen Grab: 1983 Wedding (Episode 40)


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

HE'S BEHIND YOU!...BENNY IN PANTO!


"TV'S BENNY AND REG IN ROBINSON CRUSOE" BADGE

Here's a curious item - something that doesn't mention Crossroads at all, yet features two characters from the show. In this case it is Paul Henry as "Benny" and Ivor Salter as "Reg". Now I'm not sure what hairstyle Paul Henry is sporting here - but it certainly doesn't look like Benny's!

This badge was produced for the seasonal pantomime by the Theatre Royal in Norwich. I have seen a poster for the same production which says that the panto started on Thursday 18th December, which means that this badge is from 1980. A quick search on the excellent www.its-behind-you.com website (from where some of the pictures on this page are sourced) reveals that back in the day Paul Henry was a regular on the panto circuit...

1979: Norwich (Cinderella)
1980: Norwich (Robinson Crusoe)
1981: Sunderland (Cinderella) * - according to the 1983 programme for Dick Whittington
1982: Birmingham (Dick Whittigton) * - according to the 1983 programme for Dick Whittington
1983: Norwich (Dick Whittington)
1984: Swansea (Cinderalla)
1986: Plymouth (Cinderella)
1987: Aberdeen (Cinderella)
1991: Bromley (Jack and the Beanstalk)
2001: Stafford (Cinderella)

I am sure that there are many others that I have missed - but it goes to show what a huge draw the stars of Crossroads were - and "Benny" in particular. In an interview for the Birmingham Mail HERE he says that he started doing panto in 1976  - although the 1983 programme for Dick Whittington states 1979.

The changing type of performer seen in panto is often a good reflection of the tastes and fashions of the day. In the 1960's it seems to have been mainly variety stars, in the 1970's it was British TV and soap stars, in the 1980's pop-stars and Aussie soap stars. In the 2000's it was reality TV stars and now it seems like anyone and everyone is lining up to be seen in panto. Let's not forget though how exciting it must have been for fans of Crossroads to get "up close" to Benny himself in 1980 - as the character was perhaps at the height of his popularity. Everyone knew who "TV's Benny" was - even without the trademark wooly hat.

Of course, Paul Henry wasn't the only star of Crossroads to appear in Panto - and I will take a seasonal look at others in a few months time. But for now - here are few other Panto posters featuring Paul (taken from the  its behind you website linked above).

1983
1982


1987 - Two (wooly) hats  are better than one! Compo and Benny!

1984

1991

1980

Another appearance from Benny in Norwich!

OK - If you say so!



Sunday, 16 October 2016

Stan Stennett - Crossroads and Coronation Street


THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY of STAN STENNETT is a curious read. It seems strangely appropriate to talk about this now, following the sad death of Jean Alexander - Coronation Street's iconic Hilda Ogden. 

For Crossroads fans, Stan will forever be Sid Hooper.. and maybe even Harry Silver, but for fans of Coronation Street, he was Norman Crabtree - the chip-shop owning brother of Hilda Ogden.

Stan was primarily a comedian. His "big break" was being chosen as one of the regular comedy guests on The Black and White Minstrel Show - but he also had a reputation as a "straight" actor too.  - He appeared in Crossroads, Coronation Street and Casualty, Doctors and Heartbeat (amongst others). 

Stennett was a friend of Eric Morecambe, and hosted the show that was to be Morecambe's final performance on 27 May 1984, immediately after which Morecambe died of a heart attack. 

His autobiography, Fully Booked, was published in 2010. He died in 2013 at the age of 88 and was still performing on stage.

With such a varied career, his story is quite interesting. This book is so full of names it might as well be a who's who of the entertainment industry from the 1940's onwards. His book recalls meetings and performing with Eric and Ernie, Des O'Connor, Lonnie Donnegan and Tommy Cooper.... I could go on...

Sometimes the book glosses over details or moves at a break-neck pace. Occasionally it feels as though there is a touch of "name dropping" overload - but with a career as successful as Stan's it is to be expected I suppose.

In one anecdote, Stan recalls the Black and White Minstrels running out of Max Factor make-up and how he flew single handed to London to collect a batch of the cosmetics and save the show.

My main interest in the book is (of course) Crossroads, and he devotes a large chunk of the book to the casting and development of his famous alter-ego, Sid Hooper. Stan was clearly proud of his association with the show - and I know he was always welcoming to fans of the series.

My one criticism of the Crossroads chapter is the critique of the 2001-2003 series - which reads a little like a bad-tempered Wikipedia entry and sounds unlike his "voice" in any other part of the book. In it he talks about stars of "light entertainment" such as Lionel Blair, Tim Brook-Taylor and Les Dennis appearing in the 2003 series and how this led to an "understandable" drop in ratings.

As a comic and star of light entertainment himself it seems rather a strange thing to say.

Would I recommend the book? Yes - its interesting stuff. Not earth shattering, but a great insight into the life of someone forever associated with the series.

Stan Stennett as Sid Hooper in Crossroads

Stan Stennet as Norman Crabtree in Coronation Street, alongside Jean Alexander as Hilda Ogden

Stan photographed by CAS in his office (note book on the side!)