Saturday 17 December 2022

The Noele Gordon Collection - DVD Box Set


As a fan of Crossroads there are times when nothing eventful happens for what seems like ages... That's hardly surprising I suppose, considering that the programme ended in 1988...

But in 2022 we've had TWO huge announcements.

The first was the filming of Nolly for ITVX.  As you might know, I was lucky enough to visit the production in Manchester, way back in July – and I promise to share some of my photos with you soon…

The second piece of news came out of the blue just a couple of weeks ago – and my goodness it was VERY welcome indeed. It was the announcement from that NETWORK would be releasing a brand new box-set containing all surviving Noele Gordon episodes of Crossroads – including her much anticipated return in 1983.

Noele Gordon - The Queen of Crossroads!

Now you know that I love the previous Crossroads releases from Network – I still believe that the “Motel” shaped box-set they released for the 45th anniversary is one of the most beautifully designed pieces of TV merchandise I have ever seen. You can check out my previous review from 2016 HERE.

That set contained every episode that was known to exist from 1965 up to around May 1979 and has been one of the centre-pieces of my collection for ages.  I know from talking with other fans online that having the opportunity to own the episodes and revisit the motel was fantastic – and really appreciated by those of us old enough to remember Crossroads the first time round.

As I discussed in my previous review, the box-set actually became something of a collectors item, with copies being sold online for rather more than the original price!

The announcement of the new box-set from Network is definitely a welcome one – especially as the price-tag of £130 makes it a lot more affordable –and with over 14,000 minutes worth of footage, extremely good value in my opinion – Put it this way – I had to think for all of 10 seconds before putting my order in!

But what will I be getting for my money? Is it worth paying out when I’ve already got the previous set?

As a fan, the answer has to be YES.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve been waiting to watch the continuation of the May 1979 storylines for years now. The 1960’s and 1970’s are considered by many to be the golden years of the show – and the chance to see more of these is definitely welcome.

Secondly – the May 1979 to December 1981 episodes have NEVER been available to buy before and have NEVER been repeated on British television. UK Gold started showing episodes from January 1982 way back in 1997 so most of these have been unseen for 40 years – it will be like having brand new episodes to watch.

I’ve actually got a DVD containing edited clips from 1981 that has been handed round fan-circles for years - but I’ll be honest with you – it’s basically an hour and a half of unrecognisable figures walking around in what looks like fog – The thought of watching the (nearly) complete run of episodes in clear picture quality is very exciting – especially as the late 1970’s early 1980’s contains my favourite “sitting room” colour scheme – you know – when Meg decided to ditch the brown curtains and sofa – and go yellow!

No more foggy pictures!

With Nolly due to be available on ITVX from February 2023, it will be rather poignant to watch the episodes broadcast in the run-up to Noele’s sacking. We’ve all seen the fire and the QE2 episodes – but what led to Meg’s decision to leave? Were there hints at what was to come in the months before? Had her character been side-lined in storylines?

Honestly – it’s going to be amazing.

Then – as if that wasn’t enough, Network have also included what appears to be a wealth of extra features – including the TV Times awards ceremony from 1975. It is difficult to imagine now just how popular Noele Gordon was back in the day – but the fact she KEPT winning the award for Most Popular personality year after year really should be remembered AND celebrated. 

On a personal level, I’ve been wanting to watch the Sun Television Awards from 1974 for a while as I am lucky enough to own the award that Nolly collected that year. It also features another outing for “THAT” fabulous rainbow-spotted dress of hers…

The 1974 Sun Television Awards

The box-set also contains unused takes and behind the scenes footage from the QE2 episode. It will be interesting to see what the atmosphere was like on-set that day – and I’ve often wondered whether ATV actually filmed any more of the Queen Mary suite on-board the ship as the finished scenes make it look rather cramped.

Obviously a box-set containing 94 discs is going to be noticeable on the shelf – but from what I’ve seen of the promotional images it is definitely going to take pride of place. 

Network have also announced that there’s going to be a collectors booklet included too – containing loads of rare photographs. It really feels as though Crossroads is being given the release and respect it deserves. 

Noele was sacked in 1981. It was heart-breaking for her – and for the viewers that considered Meg Mortimer part of their lives. But here we are – over 40 years later celebrating not only Nolly, but the fabulous legacy she left behind. I wish she could have known…

Yes – Crossroads was a teatime soap that never quite made it to “prime time” in the eyes of the critics – but my goodness it was adored. It really was…

I love hearing stories of mums shouting through from the kitchen to get updates from their children while they cooked the egg and chips for tea – or about people who “never watched it” – but always knew what was going on. When people find out I’m a Crossroads fan they’ve always got a memory or a story they want to share.

This box set from Network is sure to be snapped up by collectors and aficionados such as myself but I rather suspect that the Nolly drama will pique the curiosity of many other viewers too. It has certainly been interesting following the announcements of the box-set and of the drama – as many more “viewers of a certain age” seem to be admitting to having a soft-spot for Crossroads - which is definitely worth celebrating.

The thing that strikes me when I watch Crossroads is that it is the storylines and characters that I care about - The relationships - The ‘drama’ in the truest sense of the word.  I think that Crossroads remains just as relevant and engaging today as it was back in the day.

I’m not sure how many other people will sit in recreations of Meg’s Sitting Room to watch their copies – well actually I know of at least one other person who is already planning on doing just that – but it is definitely not essential.

I think I might cook myself egg and chips and eat it off my knee whilst watching some of the episodes too - to capture that “teatime” experience. 

On second thoughts….would Meg approve? Maybe I’ll just have a sherry…

Crossroads: The Noele Gordon Collection 
Release Date: 30 January 2023

You can visit the Crossroads section of the Network site HERE

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