Ronald Allen (David Hunter) was offered the role of Marshall Matt Dillon in the U.S. Western series Gunsmoke (1955). Allen turned down the role, as he had trouble mastering the accent. The role was eventually taken by James Arness, while Allen went on to Crossroads stardom. See more »
For about 25 years, this was British TV's best loved bad soap. Shaky sets, some over the top storylines and a host of okay actors revelling in the whole affair.
Set in a fictitious Midlands town, it centres on the staff and guests at the eponymous Motel - in the early days run by Meg Mortimer (Noelle Gordon) and later by Nicola Freeman (Gabrielle Drake).
The best characters included irascible Scots chef Shughie McFee (from The Great Escape); David Hunter (Ronald Allen from a Night to Remember) and Hammer veteran Sandor Eles (Countess Dracula) as a cliched chef.
Look out too for the late Jeremy Sinden (Donald's son) who went on to play one of the ill-fated pilots in Star Wars - a little movie he shot inbetween breaks from Crossroads.
However, head and shoulders above them all was scruffy, backward, lovable Benny Hawkins who never had much luck - his gypsy girlfriend was knocked down and killed on his wedding day - but with his woolly hat and good heart, he was the Midlands version of Forrest Gump long before Tom Hanks cornered the market in loveable simpletons.
The whole thing was repackaged and revamped as Neighbours, a show also boasting a Tony Hatch theme tune. At one point in the late Seventies, Paul McCartney and Wings even provided a rockier theme tune for this Seventies slice of nonsense, nicely spoofed as Acorn Antiques in Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV.
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