Sunday, 22 April 2018

RED MG MAESTRO



A RED MG-MAESTRO - NOT DRIVEN BY DAVID HUNTER

In 1985 a strange thing happened. Crossroads got its first ever title sequence. Up until this point, a photo-caption or simply the first scene with a superimposed "CROSSROADS", accompanied by the first few notes of the theme tune would be all that drew viewers into the events in the Midlands motel.

But then, in March 1985, (Wednesday 6th - Episode 4046 to be precise) - the red MG Maestro titles happened, and all of a sudden the programme was going up-market.

For a long time there were rumours that Ronnie Allen (David Hunter) was the mystery driver of the car but I remember this being  dismissed on an episode of Central News (or some regional programme).

I'm not really a "car" person, but there is something iconic about the shots of this car driving through the Midlands countryside that really caught my imagination.

Sometimes a full size Maestro comes up for sale on ebay and I am tempted - but only for a little while - after all, this particular model would now be well over 30 years old and I have the feeling that it would take a lot of work to keep it looking pristine.

And so I decided to buy a model Maestro for my collection.... And this proved to be quite tricky as there doesn't seem to be that many out there. Eventually I did come across this - a red Scalextric car (complete with metallic pickup things) - that is apparently a limited edition.

When I got it, the wheels were gold and there was no black detailing - the inside was green and there was no number plate. I have added one or two bits to make it look the part and I am pleased with the result - even if I have probably upset the Scalextric collectors out there.

Anyway - I like it a lot - and who knows - if I win the lottery - maybe one day I'll get a full size one!

Red MG Maestro (Scalextric version)

As featured in the Crossroads titles sequence 1985-1987
Find out more about the route taken by the car HERE

Sunday, 1 April 2018

AMY TURTLE - SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW


Okay, I admit it. I don’t really want to talk about this book at all – NOT the contents anyway.

Look at that cover. There she is – AMY TURTLE!

Michael Aspel once described Amy Turtle / Ann George as the “Queen Mum” of the Midlands – and do you know what? He was probably right.

Chris Tarrant, in the same programme, recalled how during personal appearances, the crowds would go wild for Amy Turtle. Quite simply – she was one of the biggest stars of the show – and one of the most recognisable faces on TV during the 1970’s.

And then she wasn’t.

In 1976, after 11 years on the show, Ann George was dropped. It is said that there were backstage fall-outs with Noele Gordon, rumours that Nolly was unhappy about Ann getting married in 1975 – the same year as Meg and Hugh. There is talk of a fall-out over some jewellery, and it is true that when Ann married, hardly anyone from the cast attended.

Of course, die-hard fans know that in 1987, Ann made a brief return to the show, as a cleaner for Tommy Lancaster, and once more, Amy’s Brummie voice rang out in the motel – albeit very briefly.

It was great to see Amy reunited with Jill, and also surprising to hear her talk about Meg dying. I don’t know whether this was the first mention that Meg was no longer alive (following  Noele’s death in 1985) – but it was a sad reminder of days-gone-by. It was also lovely that Tommy Lancaster and Nicola Freeman got to make a brief link to the past.

But back to Ann – a lady of many talents – It is said that she was a hugely accomplished singer in her younger days – Poor Ann is often derided in the media and by comics for her supposed habit of forgetting the script.

In Danny Baker’s “TV Heroes” programme, he makes fun of the fact that Ann George repeats a line said by the cast member before her – “And our villas in the South of France” is a famous catchphrase used by fans of the programme – but the truth is – Ann was word-perfect in the scene – she is entirely correct. It really IS the previous line that is wrong.

Mike Garrett  at the Crossroads Appreciation Society unearthed the script that proves this very fact.

Amy Turtle: And our villas in the south of France
Even ITV Central have been known to show a clip where Amy, deep in thought, doesn’t respond to questions asked by Faye Mansfield – but the truth is, this is part of the characterisation – not an example of the actress forgetting her lines. Amy had just been shouted at by Meg and Hugh. She was devastated.

Ann George was brilliant at comedy - Of this there can be no doubt. The scenes of her nearly giving the game away about a surprise party for Meg are genius. When she gets drunk with Miss Tatum it is hilarious  – worthy of “Best Comedy Performance” in any Soap Awards.

BUT – the scenes of Amy being arrested following her absent minded shoplifting are stunning. They are harrowing , heartfelt and genuinely moving. In short they would beat any “Best Dramatic Performance”  - hands down.

A lot has been said about Amy Turtle and Ann George over the years – but for me – this book  -“Something Old, Something New” sums it up perfectly. If you still believe the old nonsense about Ann – it’s time for something new…

Ann George was a big star

 ...Oh - if you're interested, I've never read the book!

And now some links....

Amy Turtle Returns to Crossroads (1987)  - YouTube
Amy is Arrested for Shoplifting - YouTube  - near the end of the episode