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Crossroads (1964-88, 2001-03)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Crossroads (1964-88, 2001-03)
ATV for ITV, tx. 2/11/1964-4/4/1988; Central for ITV, 5/3/2001-30/5/2003
Over 4,800 x 30 min eps, black & white/colour
Producers includeReg Watson
 Jack Barton
 Peter Rose
Created byPeter Ling
 Hazel Adair

Cast: Noele Gordon (Meg Richardson); Ronald Allen (Ronald Hunter); Jane Rossington (Jill Richardson/Harvey/Chance); Roger Tonge (Alexander 'Sandy' Richardson); Susan Hanson (Diane Lawton/Parker/Hunter); Tony Adams (Adam Chance); Ann George (Amy Turtle); Kathy Staff (Doris Luke); Paul Henry (Benny Hawkins); Jane Asher (Angel Samson); Frema Agyeman (Lola Wise)

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Life in all its wobbly glory in a Midlands motel (later hotel).

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Few programmes in the history of British television have been as reviled as Crossroads. Critics loathed it, the television industry treated it with scorn, and even its own production company ATV was often embarrassed by it. Despite this, it was second only in popularity to Coronation Street (ITV, 1960-) throughout the 1970s, and it was still managing healthy ratings when it was cancelled in 1987. The fascination of Crossroads lies between these two extremes, and although its faults were many, the success, demise and brief resurrection of the programme reflects the changing attitudes of both the audience and the television industry towards daily soap opera.

Crossroads made its debut on 2nd November 1964 and starred Noele Gordon in the pivotal role of Meg Richardson, owner of the eponymous motel. Viewers responded to the melodramatic but family-friendly storylines, and warmed to memorable characters such as Meg's children Jill and Sandy, receptionist Marilyn Gates, and the volatile chef Carlos Raphael. The series proceeded into the 1970s with new characters such as David Hunter and Benny Hawkins, achieving both nationwide coverage and a popularity that defied the frequent mockery.

But events were to conspire against the series just as it was enjoying its greatest success. In 1977, Independent Broadcasting Authority regulations forced ATV head Lew Grade to stand down, and a few years later new franchise conditions obliged ATV to undergo a partial change of ownership and to adopt the name Central. With Grade gone and Noele Gordon rapidly ousted under the new regime, the programme became vulnerable. Although it maintained good viewing figures, the show was increasingly perceived as a relic from the past, with an average audience age to match. Different producers were used in an attempt to woo a younger audience, but the axe finally fell and brought the series to a close on 4th April 1988.

There was a false dawn in 2000, when (somewhat ironically) Carlton brought the series back in the hope that it would provide them with a ready-made ratings winner. This revival demonstrated that television executives and broadcasting authorities were no longer in a position to care about how ratings were achieved, and even 'quality' serials such as Emmerdale (ITV, 1972-) and Coronation Street are now on the daily soap treadmill and frequently criticised for falling standards. Crossroads may now be in the past, but it was always pointing toward the future.

John Williams

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Video Clips
Crossroads - The 1960s
Crossroads - The 1970s
Crossroads - The 1980s
Crossroads - The 2000s
Milne, Paula (1947-)
Soap Opera