Friday, 30 December 2016

MEG'S MIRROR (REPLICA)



MEG'S MIRROR (REPLICA)

Sometimes a collection can take on a life of its own... and this post is all about a great example of this. I can't say that I would normally have picked this particular item as an interior design choice - but you know how it is...

In the photograph above you can see a replica of Meg's Sitting Room mirror as it appeared in 1966. I recently bought it from ebay, where it was described as "Rococo" in style - which is characterized as being an "elaborately ornamental late baroque style of decoration prevalent in 18th-century continental Europe, with asymmetrical patterns involving motifs and scrollwork." (Thanks Wikipedia) - Yep - that just about sums it up - motifs and scrollwork... Well one thing is for sure - it certainly matches the lamp...

In fact - as the images below show - Meg had several mirrors over the time that the sitting room set was used - right up until its last appearance in 1982. On the whole, the designs (while broadly similar) tended to get more simple as the years went by. I can't actually say that I had noticed this before buying this mirror but I do find details like this quite interesting.

1966 (Note photo of Meg and Charles Richardson)
Early 1970's - Slightly smaller / More Simple design

Mid 1970's - Smaller again / Much more simple design

Despite appearances, the mirror isn't actually carved. The frame is manufactured using moulded plaster, which is covered in gold paint / gold leaf. Consequently it is actually very fragile indeed - and this may explain why it seemed to change shape so often in the series - as replacements would have been needed because of the likely damage that would be caused each time the set was erected / struck.

I'll add further details to this post over the coming days and weeks...




Wednesday, 28 December 2016

THE SOAP WITH A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE - PRODUCTION DOCUMENTS 2


"THE HELPING HAND" - CROSSROADS CARE - STORYLINE SYNOPSIS DOCUMENT 1973

In  1972, the character of Sandy Richardson was involved in a car accident which resulted in his paralysis. It meant that for the rest of the time that he was in the soap, Sandy would need to use a wheelchair. It also meant that his friends and immediate family would need to adjust their own lives in order to support him. 

It is well documented that the motel sets needed altering to enable Sandy to use a wheelchair, and some episodes that survive show the specially adapted bedroom that was created next door to Meg’s famous Sitting Room.

Last time I posted I talked about the fact that Crossroads’ greatest legacy lives on to this day. Now known as “Carers Trust”, the "Crossroads Care Attendant Scheme" was set up as a direct result of the storyline involving Sandy.

1979 Crossroads Special (World Distributors)


The 1979 Crossroasds Special takes up the story…

“When Sandy was confined to a wheelchair after his motor accident and had to face life as a paraplegic, much research was done at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopedic  Hospital at Oswestry to ensure that Sandy gave an authentic performance.

When Sandy, played by Roger Tonge first appeared in his wheelchair, he was seen by Noel Crane, who was himself in a wheelchair as a result of a broken neck caused some two years previously in a swimming accident.

Noel telephoned to indicate his interest and subsequently offered to give any advice which he thought might help the portrayal of a newly-disabled person.

Reg Watson, then producer of Crossroads, met Noel, and he was so impressed with Noel’s courage in coping with his disability that a character based on Noel was written into several episodes.

A young local drama student named Peter Graham played the part of Tony Scott, a boy in a wheel chair, a special friend of Sandy’s.

Helped by Noel, Peter leaned to act as a person who had no movement below the armpits and had to be dressed by his mother.

Noel had told Reg how handicapped people value their independence and also of the devoted care given to them by their relatives. With all the love and devotion in the world, looking after a handicapped people takes a toll of the able-bodied, both mentally and physically, and they, too, need a rest.”

Noel Crane with Roger Tonge and Noele Gordon - Photo: Rugby Advertiser


In my previous post I shared how the son of medical adviser, Wendy Greengross had contacted me with some original 1970’s paperwork that she had kept in relation to the programme. One of the documents that he sent includes a storyline synopsis for “Weeks 440 – 443” covering Transmission Dates from 17th April to 8th May 1973. It was entitled “The Helping Hand”.

The document gives a rough outline of Meg first meeting Tony Scott and his mother, and how they quickly built up a friendship based on their shared experience. 

Mrs Scott cared for her son Tony in the Crossroads programme


This is quite unusual because as well as the synopsis surviving, the scripts also survive AND the many of the episodes also remain in the archive…

FROM THE SYNOPSIS:

Scan of synopsis document donated to the collection


THE SCRIPT:

Scan of original script page


THE SCENE ON SCREEN:

Screen Capture from episode 


Later the synopsis talks about the problems that Mrs Scott and Tony face on a daily basis – even down to getting in and out of bed in the morning!

FROM THE SYNOPSIS:

Scan of Synopsis document donated to the collection


THE SCRIPT:

Scan of original script


THE SCENE ON SCREEN:

Screen capture from episode



The 1979 special talks further about the development of the Crossroads Carers scheme…

“Dr Richard Hudson-Evans, who was then Medical Adviser to the programme had for many years worked with disabled people and their families and had wanted to see a scheme set up which would help relatives in such circumstances. With Reg Watson he approached Mr. Leonard Matthews, Senior Director at ATV… and after setting up a working party to look at the need, ATV agreed to give £10,000 for a two year pilot scheme…

…During the first two years of the pilot scheme some twenty-eight families were helped and about three thousand visits made.”


To say that “Crossroads” had a social conscience would probably be putting it mildly. Not only did ATV fund the scheme for two years, the programme continued to highlight the need for the vital service that it provided. 

The synopsis document describes it like this…

“…Ideas cost money and some families had no compensation for accidents etc. Meg decides that this is one scheme that isn’t going to die. She never felt the need for a cause before bur SOMEONE should be interested in keeping an eye on the mothers and wives of people who are completely paralysed. Otherwise, how can they carry on their good work? Meg is determined she’s going to be the one to do it…”

Mrs Scott benefiting from some time to herself


Today, the work of “Crossroads Care” continues. As a Sheffield resident, I was sad to discover online that the Sheffield branch had been forced to close in 2012 due to lack of funding- however there are many schemes still operating nationally –now under the banner of “Carers Trust”.

The story of how the Crossroads Care scheme came to be was so inspirational that it also featured (almost word for word) in the following Crossroads Special (1982)

1982 Crossroads Special (Grandreams)

1982 Crossroads Special (Grandreams)

For more information about the wonderful work done by this charity, please click the following link HERE


Sunday, 18 December 2016

THE SOAP WITH A SOCIAL CONSCIENCE - PRODUCTION DOCUMENTS 1


ORIGINAL SERIES PRODUCTION DOCUMENTS

Recently I was contacted by a fellow-fan of the show, who asked whether I would be interested in some original series paperwork. Naturally I jumped at the chance and was thrilled when he offered to donate them to the collection. They arrived in the post just a few days later…

It transpired that the fan who contacted me was actually the son of the adviser on the programme, Doctor Wendy Greengross.  He told me that she had kept the ATV paperwork since the early 70’s and that he was happy that it would be looked after by someone that would appreciate it.

Wendy was credited on the programme

Wendy sadly passed away in 2012, but she was described by “The Independent” as “a pioneering counsellor and one of the leading figures in fighting for equal rights for the disabled and the elderly, people she felt were not treated or cared for by society as individuals.”

You can read more about her HERE


The paperwork that he sent included a “Storylines” document, which covered several episodes from December 1972. It focuses on the continuing recovery of Sandy Richardson following his car-accident. The storylines were written and prepared by Peter Ling, co-creator of the programme – with the intention that individual writers would ‘flesh-out’ the scenes.

Sadly, the episodes in this document, numbers 1820-1823  (Broadcast 5th – 8th December 1972) no longer exist in the archives, which makes the storylines document (and the surviving scripts) the only record.

As I mentioned in a previous post, production paperwork can throw up some interesting facts about how the programme was made. You may recall that part of Sandy Richardson’s recovery involved spending time at the fictional “Saxon Hall”. Last year I produced a short programme about the locations used during the filming of Crossroads – and during the writing I worked out that scenes at “Saxon Hall” were actually recorded on the roof of ATV centre – the brickwork and distinctive hexagonal patio slabs gave it away. Fortunately some footage remains in the archive - from Episode 1817.

You can view that programme HERE.

ATV Centre not long before demolition a few years ago...

...and as Saxon Hall in Episode 1817


It seems that the OB Location footage was actually included for reasons of studio logistics and a lack of studio space. Sets for the week included: Reception, Kitchen, Harvey House, Post Office , New Narrow Boat, Meg’s Sitting-Room and Willow End Cottage.

The 1972 production document includes the following passage…

(NOTE: We did at one stage talk about having a change of venue at Saxon Hall, by using the top floor of the ATV Centre as another area… Possibly also with members of a local Birmingham Disabled Group, in wheelchairs, in background – playing snooker? – somebody doing handcrafts – etc.

This would also lighten the burden of studio sets in what is otherwise a heavy week, I’m afraid – it just happened that way! – but at least we are in Studio One, aren’t we?)

A scan of one of the pages

Later on, Peter talks directly with the writers... He maps out a rough scene involving the characters of Eileen Webber and Russ Parker – who are in a relationship. The basic outline is that (disabled) Russ feels that Eileen will have to contribute more to their relationship, whereas she feels that her inexperience will lead to him becoming bored. Peter says…

(N.B, THESE RUSS-EILEEN SCENES ARE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO ENCAPSULATE IN A FEW LINES WITHOUT MAKING THEM SOUND LUDICROUSLY NAÏVE. ALL I CAN DO IS SUGGEST THE BASIC THEME FOR EACH SCENE, AND LEAVE THE REST TO THE WRITERS!)

Finally, in the outline for episode 1823, we are given an insight into the reason behind the inclusion of certain scenes within a programme, and something which I feel was important to highlight within the continuing story of Sandy's situation.

(So often we have shown the patients overcoming their disabilities, perhaps we should have an occasional reminder of their limitations? With this in mind - )

Sandy – plus one or two other non-speaking wheelchair patients – has made some decorations, but they can’t of course hang them up to see how they look…

Eileen comes in on this moment of petty irritation and frustration and helps out by hanging some of the decorations for Sandy to see how they look.

Sandy also prepares decorations for a party in Episode 1817

Scan of a the script  from  episode 1823

Strangely, it seems that the "frustration" element may not have been included when the scene was recorded - as you can see in the script extract above - which does seem to be a shame really. After all, it was partly due to the frustrations and difficulties faced by patients and carers that Crossroads' greatest legacy continues to thrive to this day...

Even though the original series finished in 1988, and the revival was axed in 2003,  Crossroads lives on in the form of the “Crossroads Care” scheme. 

Another of the documents that I was sent includes the genesis of this scheme.....of which more next time...

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

CROSSROADS ORIGINAL SCRIPTS


CROSSROADS ORIGINAL SCRIPTS (2000-2003)

There is something amazing about seeing an original TV script. The ones in my collection mostly cover the years 2000-2003 and feature storylines from the revived series.

I have managed to build up a collection of scripts as they tend to appear on auction sites like ebay.

Episode 1 was bought a few years ago. More recently, cast member Neil Grainger sold several scripts, and I bought Episodes 2 and 3 from him. Just this week, a generous fellow fan donated his copy of the Episode 4 script to my collection.

So what is it about a script that is so amazing? It's like a secret window into the world of TV production. The fact that they (at one time) belonged to a cast or crew-member make them a very "personal" item. They are also a link to the "real world"

Sometimes you get a hint at stories that never came to be, like this snippet from Episode 1

"HEAD BARMAN, RAY DOBBS, 28, A TANNED, ATHLETIC, LAID BACK AUSTRALIAN IS HANDING A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE TO BEENA. THEIR HANDS TOUCH, WE MAY NOTICE THEY LINGER A FRACTION LONGER THAN THEY SHOULD."

What I would really like to do is add some original series scripts to the collection, but they do tend to go for substantial sums of money when they appear online... Maybe one day! For now I do have a few photocopies of these - and they also make for fascinating reading!

Of course, many episodes from the original series are now lost - fortunately many scripts survive in the hands of collectors. These scripts often contain useful information about locations and storylines that would otherwise be lost.

AND occasionally, the scripts themselves can be used to finally dispel certain myths about the programme... One of the most often repeated rumour is that Ann George (Amy Turtle) forgot her lines during a scene and merely repeated what the previous cast member had said.  (See 30 seconds into the following clip CLICK HERE)

Scripts - often dispel myths about the programme!

And our villas in the south of France!


When looking at the actual script for the scene it is clear that Sue Hanson mis-remembered her line and Ann George did in fact say the CORRECT line!



Episode 36, written by Chris Chibnall

Original Series characters Adam and Jill feature in many episodes

A selection of scripts

Scan of a 1973 script showing a three week lead time

Photocopy of a 1972 script showing crew details - with the episodes lost these are the only records!

Photocopy of 1972 script - Jill's still there!