Sunday, 15 December 2019

CROSSROADS 1500 EPISODES INVITATION


1500 EPISODES BUT NO REASON TO CELEBRATE!

In 1971, Crossroads reached an unprecedented milestone. 1500 episodes.  No other British drama series had come anywhere close to clocking up that many editions and ATV went all-out to celebrate the achievement.

Recently, I took possession of a collection of items from the family of Morris Parsons, better known as Wilf Harvey. The collection included his scrapbooks and various other pieces which I will include on this site over the coming months.

The items at the top of this page are his invitation and menu for a  luncheon that was held at ATV Centre to celebrate the occasion in June 1971* but this was merely the tip-of-the-iceberg when it came to celebrating…

Victor Ernest Turton, the Mayor of Birmingham tours the set with Lew Grade and Noele Gordon - Crossroads Fan Club
Noele Gordon presented with a silver tray to commemorate 1500 episodes of Crossroads - Crossroads Fan Club



In real life, the cast of Crossroads took a plane to Jersey for a celebratory trip. Footage from Channel TV HERE captures a brief, and slightly risqué interview with Roger Tonge, while Noele Gordon recalls that her previous visit to the Channel Islands, (September 1970) when she travelled with Ann George, was cut short due to a burglary at her home in Ross on Wye.

Jane Rossington, Noele Gordon and Roger Tonge interviewed for Channel Television
The Evening News reports on the burglary at Noele Gordon's home - 18.09.70

Mace Archive HERE contains a news report about a special cake that was produced to mark the milestone, which was to be cut into 1500 pieces by none other than Noele Gordon herself (19.05.71) and  the surviving “ATV Today”material includes some 16mm film taken at the airport in Jersey. (24.03.71)

Noele Gordon, Lew Grade and a VERY large cake! - Crossroads Fan Club

The TV Times Crossroads Special celebrating 1500 episodes in 1971
An advert for the Crossroads 1500 Episodes Special Magazine.

Fans of the series could get in on the act by purchasing a special TV Times Special Magazine that featured photographs from the earliest episodes in 1964, right up to images taken “behind the scenes” of episodes yet to air. There were interviews with the cast and crew and it is actually really informative. It originally cost 15p but it regularly comes up on online auction sites for a little more.

Crossroads Cast relaxing at La Place Hotel, Jersey

In the magazine the cast are pictured at various locations around Jersey taken during the trip mentioned above,  and in particular “La Place Hotel”. Interestingly, in episode 1481, (April 1971) Meg is flicking through a leaflet advertising the very same hotel… (its name obscured by Noele’s thumb )

La Place Hotel, Jersey. Crossroads Episode 1481

Noele's thumb protecting ATV from falling fowl of strict advertising rules.

The Mace caption for the Jersey clip suggests that some scenes were also filmed for inclusion within the programme, which indeed they were, as Jersey was chosen as the location for Stan and Jill’s honeymoon…

Morris Parsons’ scrapbook contains a couple of articles about the trip to Jersey, and you can read these below.

(Article to follow)

Interesting details include the fact that a special reception was held at Channel Television, followed by a dinner at La Place Hotel given by the States Tourism Committee -  The article (Tuesday, March 23, 1971) specifically mentions Morris’ connection to the Chanel Islands and talks about him living in Guernsey for two years from 1935.

Celebrating 1500 episodes of Crossroads at Walford Hall, Baschurch

Back in Britain, Noele and Roger had also returned to the village of Baschurch and Shropshire Farming Institute for a photo-call in a lovely looking car with a special XRD 1500 number plate. The 1500 Special Magazine comments on this…

I watched Noele on location at the Shropshire Farm Institute at Baschurch - the "model" for the Crossroads motel - where despite unavoidable delays in intense cold she remained calm, patient and helpful.  Having given up most of her lunch-hour to a picture session she then found time to give an impromptu stand-up interview to the local newspaper


TV Times celebrates 1500 episodes of Crossroads

Crossroads – or at least Noele Gordon was granted a TV Times cover (May 22nd 1971). Interestingly this was the week that colour TV came to several ITV regions, including Westward.

Finally, of course, there was the big celebration episode, in which members of the cast from the previous 7 years returned in scenes reminiscent of “This Is Your Life”. TV Personality Godfrey Winn returned to the motel for his second visit as a way of framing the flashbacks and returning cast.

Special Listing for Episode 1500


So, with far-flung location visits, Special Edition magazines, and covers, newspaper articles and special luncheons it seems only fitting that I link to the episode on YouTube so that you can enjoy the celebration for yourself…

…but sadly I can’t as the episode was wiped and no longer exists in the archive. The closest survivor is Episode 1495 from May 1971, which features nothing relating to the special.

Even more frustrating is the fact that the next available episode isn’t until number 1674 from March 1874, ten months later!

Imagine that! 10 months of episodes that no longer exist. All the effort, all the work, all the time and expense that went into making the episodes, and they were wiped to reuse the tapes.  Of course it IS possible that someone somewhere actually recorded this special episode, but as the years go by its survival is looking increasingly unlikely – which is certainly no cause for celebration!

*
The menu for the luncheon was as follows....

Clear Turtle Soup with Sherry
Cheese Straws

Cold Roast Sirloin of Beef
York Ham
Roast English Turkey
Supreme of Chicken Jeanette
Assorted Salads
Parslied New Potatoes

Fresh Fruit Salad Hawaii
Dairy Cream

Cheshire Stilton Brie
Biscuits

Coffee

Thursday, 5 December 2019

CROSSROADS BIBLE


CROSSROADS BIBLE - PRODUCTION OFFICE DOCUMENT 1984

Collecting is a funny old business. Often it involves paying over-the-odds on online auction sites but every so often something fantastic happens – someone gets in touch and offers you items completely free of charge, out of the goodness of their heart…. That, and the desire to de-clutter their houses.

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by Mike at the Crossroads Appreciation Society. He had been speaking with a member of the production team, who happened to have a few items stashed away in their loft and they were looking for a safe place to keep them.  I duly sent of an email to them and after a few days I was in possession of a fair collection of items that I will be talking about over the coming weeks.

So – to today’s item….

Have you ever wondered just how old Jill was supposed to be at the start of the series? Maybe David Hunter’s political leaning is something that you’ve mused over. Perhaps you’ve wondered how far away Jill’s house, Chimneys was from the motel...?

Well I can tell you exactly …

Jill was supposedly 19 at the beginning of the series. David would probably have voted Liberal, and Chimneys was a 20 minute drive from the motel.

How do I know such trivia? Well one of the items donated to the collection was the “Bible for Crossroads (at August 1984)”

It is basically a document that was written and compiled to inform scriptwriters and the production team about the history of the show, which in 1984 stood at twenty years worth of episodes.  It was also used to cross-reference and check that details about the characters’ past were consistent – After all, there are (apparently) fans out there that memorise every significant detail about the show… and that could easily spot continuity errors…. Perish the thought.

There is a brief one-page outline of the history of the programme, concerning Meg starting up the motel business in the early 1960’s, but otherwise the references to Meg are few and far between.

Start at the beginning...

The outline page tells us that “she has been seen once since her departure, when she made a flying visit to Venice, to wish Adam and Jill well on their honeymoon.” Interestingly, I suppose, the bible doesn’t refer to Meg being a character that could never return – as Producer, Jack Barton had made clear in 1981. Indeed, in 1985 there were plans for Meg to return to the programme on a part-time basis – but alas – there is nothing contained in the document about that.

The major characters all have sections of their own. The Brownlows are grouped together, including Iris Scott until Christmas 1980, when she breaks off into her own section.

There are a few errors that I have noticed – Jill’s first husband is called John Kane, when in fact his surname in the series was “Crane”. There is also question mark over when Jill and Stan married “1970?” – in fact it was 1971. The bible states that  “Iris Scott turned up on Auntie Kath’s doorstep, desperate and broke” – and someone has written in pen that she was “taken by Police on vagrancy” – which certainly gives more detail.

One of the most interesting details concerns the “Diane Hunter” pages and it involves her son, Nicky…

“Nicky is growing up as a sturdy, bright American kid; we have never seen him (since he was two years old) but he’s now thirteen (?) and one day he might come to England… How would Di cope if she suddenly found herself with a teenage son on her hands? 

But we must not run ahead  of our story…”

Then….

“It is time she met her Mr. Right and settled down at last; she’s not getting any younger – and maybe that’s what will happen… But with Di’s luck, she’ll just be settling down to dish up the spaghetti bolognaise (her speciality – she has limited range as a cook) in her tiny kitchenette on the night he pops the question – when her long-lost American teenage son will walk in out of the blue, and ruin everything…”

Now as I’m sure you’re aware – Nicky never did re-join Diane at the motel – indeed poor Diane died in April 1987.

Di Dies - before Nicky could return!

I love the fact that the bible hints at a storyline that we never got to see come to fruition – but what an interesting story that would have been… Certainly it would be a great way of keeping the character fresh and relevant. I think programmes such as “Neighbours” manage to do this very well, which is why long-established characters like the Kennedy family continue to be involved in major storylines.

So what of the bible?

Does it matter that the history of characters is kept consistent? Yes – I think the ‘payoff’ for long-time viewers when a piece of almost-forgotten history comes back is lovely and is a great ‘reward’.

I can think of a few recent examples  where characters in currently running serials suddenly do a “U-Turn” or change their personalities overnight. There’s nothing wrong with that in principle – plenty of people go through life changing experiences in real life, but in most cases the audience are quick to pick up on anything that affects the “reality” of the shows that they have invested time in.

But here’s the thing…. There’s no way that I would have the nerve to criticise anything in the bible – even if it slightly rewrites history…as the name typed at the end of it means that it is almost gospel.  The final paragraph says this…

“That, then, is how things stand after twenty years of stories woven in and around Kings Oak, and the staff, guests, and friends of the Crossroads Motel.

Peter Ling
Hastings
Sussex”

Peter Ling! Fantastic! Shame we didn’t get to see that Di storyline though...

Peter  Ling with Noele Gordon during the early days of the show.
Early On-Screen credit for Peter Ling and Hazel Adair - 1966

Still story-lining (and writing the show) in 1985
Credited on the last episode in 1988
And again in 2001

At this point I probably should briefly mention that the 2001 series didn't strictly stick to the established continuity of the 1964-1988 series.

Perhaps they should have read the bible!