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Crossroads - The 1970s

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Crossroads - The 1970s
2,026 x 30 min eps, colour
ProducersReg Watson
 Jack Barton
Writers includePeter Ling
 Bazil Dawson
 Michala Crees
 Malcolm Hulke
 Paula Milne
 David Whitaker
Theme TuneTony Hatch

Cast: Jane Rossington (Jill Richardson/Harvey); Ann George (Amy Turtle); Susan Hanson (Diane Lawton/Parker/Hunter); Noele Gordon (Meg Richardson/Mortimer); Elisabeth Croft (Miss Tatum); Roger Tonge (Sandy Richardson); Ronald Allen (David Hunter); Jack Haig (Archie Gibbs); Edward Clayton (Stan Harvey); Joy Andrews (Tish Hope); John Bentley (Hugh Mortimer); Paul Henry (Benny Hawkins); David Fennell (Brian Jarvis)

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Life at the Crossroads motel becomes ever more complex with Meg and David Hunter at the heart of things.

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The 1970s saw Crossroads become the second most popular soap opera in the country after Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-). Noele Gordon was at the height of her fame, and dominated the Most Popular Female Personality category in the TV Times viewers' award for virtually the whole decade. But even at its zenith of popularity, the programme remained controversial. The broadcasting environment had changed since the 1960s, and most studio-based dramas had some leeway for scene retakes. Crossroads had no such luxury, and ATV refused to spend any more money to rectify this. The show's shortcomings were very evident when compared to other television drama, and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) watched on with an ever more baleful eye.

The increasingly bizarre and sensational plots that dominated the 1970s didn't help. Although the introduction of stoical motel manager David Hunter at least ensured that Meg was relieved of some dramatic duties, the series relied on a suspension of belief that proved beyond most viewers, but was no less entertaining for it. A summary is impossible, but notable events included Sandy's paralysis after a car crash, Meg's amnesia, simpleton farmhand Benny Hawkins's tragic wedding day, Amy Turtle's arrest on suspicion of being Soviet spy Amelia Turlovska, and Hugh Mortimer's off-screen death at the hands of a terrorist organisation in cahoots with David Hunter's son. In fairness, Crossroads occasionally grounded itself in reality, and the storyline involving Sandy's disability resulted in ATV funding an organisation called the Crossroads Care Attendant Scheme that is still in operation today; nor was this an isolated instance of the programme's social awareness.

The odder storylines were forgotten for a while when, in April 1975, Hugh and Meg finally tied the knot in Bimingham Cathedral. This episode was also significant because the occasion brought the different ITV regions into line, and the show became properly networked at last. Although the series never again achieved such high ratings, it remained much loved by viewers, if equally disliked by the critics. But behind the scenes, with Lew Grade no longer in control of ATV, and the franchise renewal coming up, the new executive board made attempts to improve ATV's output and appease the IBA. Crossroads remained too popular to tamper with at first, but further changes in the broadcasting environment were to leave it more vulnerable.

John Williams

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Video Clips
1. Haggis address (1:57)
2. Shughie's Bluff is called (1:44)
3. Thinking of the future (1:43)
4. Shughie's comeuppance (2:17)
Complete episode (19:23)
Crossroads (1964-88, 2001-03)
Crossroads - The 1960s
Crossroads - The 1980s
Crossroads - The 2000s