Saturday, 18 May 2019

KNITWEAR AT THE CROSSROADS



WENDY SHETLAND AT THE CROSSROADS MOTEL


I mean – it says it all really doesn’t it?

I can imagine the little old ladies rushing out to buy this knitting pattern book for the princely sum of 75p in 1984. After all, the garments inside were modelled by David and Barbara Hunter, Adam and Jill Chance, Miranda Pollard, Paul Ross, Diane Hunter, John Latchford, Kath Brownlow, Doris Luke, Iris Scott, Kevin and Glenda Banks and my personal favourite – Sid Hooper and Joe MacDonald.

Adam and Jill Chance - Knitwear (Tank Top for him)
John Latchford (Arthur White) - Comfy Cardigan


The boys are back in town  - Joe Macdonald and Sid Hooper

The book is from1984 and therefore features a mixture of “classic” knits for characters like Doris, and more edgy geometric patterns for the youngster, Iris. Actually,  I can quite easily picture several generations of families sitting round the table wearing Crossroads inspired knitwear, not wanting to offend Grandma, who has been busy with the “double-knit” and “chunky” for months.

The booklet features the Crossroads Motel logo and pictures of the Golden Valley exterior – even if the photos inside the booklet were taken at the Holiday Inn, Birmingham. It credits the cast and producer of Crossroads personally and from 1984 is possibly one of the last official tie-in pieces of merchandise until the quick flurry of goodies that were released in 1988 at the end of the series.

Speaking of the photos, John Latchford and Iris Scott have never looked happier - David and Barbara simply ooze style and sophistication in their matching lilac knits and Paul Ross proves that both the sleeved and sleeveless version of a traditional sweater pattern are suitable whilst enjoying a cocktail in the motel bar.

My wife is quite a good knitter, and while I would really like Adam’s patterned tank-top, I think at my age, John Latchford’s comfy cardigan is probably more appropriate.

If you’re interested in finding out about the history of the “Wendy” knitting patterns, there is a wealth of information on the website of the owners HERE. It details the struggles of one family to keep a family business going in adverse trading conditions and cheap competition from elsewhere. Meg Mortimer herself would be proud of them!

The knitting pattern is I suppose an extension of the fashion items in the two “Crossroads Specials” from 1979 and 1982. The 1979 one features my favourite photo of actor Tony Adams sitting on several boxes of flammable gas in a fetching knitted jumper and bright yellow wellies.

Adam Chance - Explosive!

Now if you think that’s bizzare – what about the 1970’s introductions to Crossroads featuring “Mrs. Cherry “giving updates on the recent events in the motel? I absolutely love the fact that the producers just went with this idea. Can you imagine the production meeting where it was suggested that they film someone knitting (or doing crochet – I’m not an expert), whilst a high pitched voice-over goes through the update? 

"Mrs Cherry" introduces another episode... whilst knitting.

Of course, no blog entry about knitting would be complete without a passing reference to perhaps the most famous piece of knitwear to ever feature in a soap – Benny’s hat, which interestingly was the idea of Paul Henry himself. In the 2001 “Crossroads Story” he recalls:

Paul Henry as Benny Hawkins - with woolly hat.

“I turned up at the audition with my weekend stubble, my brother’s woolly hat and a simple smile. And Benny was born.”

The little woolen hat also features in the lyrics to Paul “Benny” Henry’s song “Waiting at the Crossroads” – and you can find out more about that HERE. So "famous" and striking was the image of Benny in his hat, that it often featured in Crossroads spoofs...

Benny Hill as "Benny" in a Crossroads sketch.
Mike Yarwood - and hat
Lenny and Paul Henry in "Spot The Benny" - (He's the one on the left)

A few years ago, Paul (and hat) featured in the Comic Relief music video to "500 miles".

Paul Henry (and hat) in the video to "500 miles" for Comic Relief.

Just recently year, Paul was on TV talking about Crossroads, and the hat made its most recent appearance on the box – so it seems its place in TV history is secure.

The most recent outing for the little woolen hat.

So there you go – Crossroads – the soap for knitting fans. Possibly not the kind of tag-line the producers were going for – but it would seem - Crossroads was not the only soap at it.....

Emmerdale - Knitting Patterns

Eastenders - Knitting Patterns

Coronation Street - Knitting Patterns