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Crossroads (TV Series 1964–1988) Poster

(1964–1988)

Trivia

ATV's budget for the show was so slender that some castmembers were seen on-screen in their own clothes that they'd worn to attend the studio recordings.
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As a side-effect of the ongoing storyline of Sandy Richardson, who became a paraplegic following a car crash in August 1972, and a plot the following year exploring the daily practicalities of helping the disabled, the series aided the formation of the real-life Crossroads charity in 1974. ATV provided the funding for the pilot scheme in Rugby; the organisation (which helps provide support for carers) is still an active UK service today.
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For many years the end credits famously entered the screen at Widdershins from bottom-to-top and right-to-left; this was meant to emphasize the 'crossroads' nature of the show. Similarly in very early editions the title would zoom up on viewers, as if they were motoring towards it.
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The show had no film unit for location shooting because the budget didn't allow for it, so everything was in the studio full of interlocking sets. None of them were very lavish, and the budget didn't run to edits, so it was recorded on tape, and scenes were shot in extended takes, meaning gaffes wound up on the air. The worst that could happen is drying up in a scene and a continuity girl with the script fed an actor the lines because it showed in the finished episode (something that would never be tolerated now). On the show, cast, crew and writers were locked into it because of time constraints and a delay could ruin everything. Staff directors would come on in rotation but didn't allow for creativity, and plotlines became increasingly madder.
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When the Falklands War occurred and just after, British troops in the Falklands referred to the Islanders as "Bennies", after the character in Crossroads, who was often to be seen wearing a bobble cap like the islanders. Benny was a bit of a stupid character, so this was not taken to kindly by the islanders themselves.
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For many years, each 25 minute episode was recorded in one take without editing. If mistakes were made towards the end of a shoot, they would be left in rather than redoing the entire scene.
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Originally titled "The Midland Road", but the original producer Reg Watson disliked the title so much that he renamed it "Crossroads".
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Occasionally, at cliffhangers of great impact, Wings' cover of the theme tune (the closing track on their 1975 album "Venus and Mars") would end the programme instead of the usual arrangement.
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The survival rate of episodes is very hit-and-miss: the first edition currently known to exist in the archives is episode 126 from April 1965, with the next, sequential, run of installments comprising 496-500, aired over one week in November 1966. Thereafter some years are represented by no editions (or merely one), with some surviving only as edited compilations, monochrome film copies or off-air audio/home video recordings. A complete run only appears to exist from October 1980. Additionally, some pre-transmission trailers from 1964 were kept, as were sections of '60s film inserts discovered in early 2008.
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As the series progressed, a small team of scriptwriters (usually three) would each contribute to an episode, following an overall plan laid down by the storyliner from story conferences. One would handle the main 'dramatic' story arc, one the 'humorous' strand and another would write up the remaining topic(s). They worked independently of each other, and their segments would be pieced together by the script editor into the finished programmes.
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Crossroads returned to the London area on the 3rd Jan 1969 after being off the air since summer 1968. Thames TV, who were the new London contractors, initially refused to purchase the programme, but gave in under viewer's protest and pressure. On its return, Noele Gordon explained the storylines to Thames' viewers, but the region still remained several months behind most parts of UK. Only the Granada region, in the North-West, were further behind (by around 12-18 months), having only taken up the series in 1972 alongside Tyne Tees, who went with ATV's current editions. The regional variations were brought into line - barring time-slot differences - in time for for the wedding of Meg Richardson and Hugh Mortimer on on April 3rd 1975 . Thames TV in London jumped forward 6 months on 1st April 1975 as Gordon and other major characters spoke directly to the camera from Meg's sitting room to provide a special plot round-up for those who would be skipping half a year of episodes to catch up. Six months of storylines were summarised in under 10 minutes, with London viewers catapulted to part 2 of the episode then being transmitted in the rest of the UK.
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The series fell foul of ITV watchdog organisation the Independant Broadcasting Authority several times. To try to improve the perceived lack of quality in the finished product, the IBA insisted on cutting the editions back from five a week to four (beginning 3rd July 1967) and then down to three (starting on 8th April 1980); towards the series' close ITV pruned this further to twice a week (from 23rd December 1987). The IBA also frowned on some script topics due to the late afternoon/early evening timeslots used by the regions, when impressionable children may have been watching. This was particularly the case during 1970 when the series ran Satanist, murder and ghost storylines.
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In the late sixties "Lady Penelope" ("the comic for girls who love television") ran a strip based on the series, which appeared in issues 103-122. In 1973 Dutch artist Alfred Mazure contributed some strips for the "TV Times" listings magazine - the first they had run for any series.
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According to actor Angus Lennie the kitchen set was costly to use, and the series' famously low budget meant series regulars whose characters worked in the kitchen would disappear for chunks of the year because of cost reasons.
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The show was responsible for launching several singles into the UK charts: first was Sue Nicholls' July 1968 release "Where Will You Be?" (Marilyn Gates' nightclub song hit number 17). 'Stephanie de Sykes' guested in the soap in 1974 as singer Holly Brown, who checked into the motel under the assumed name Harriet following a breakdown. Her big hit, much-played in the series at the time, was July 1974's "Born With A Smile On My Face" which raced to number 2, whilst "We'll Find Our Day" (the Mortimers' wedding song) reached 7 in April 1975 for her. Simon May's October 1976 record "Summer of My Life" similarly peaked at 7. May also composed "Benny's Theme", released by Paul Henry with the Mayson Glen Orchestra in January 1978 (reaching 39, it centred around Benny Hawkins' abortive wedding to Maureen Flynn). More successful was Kate Robbins and Beyond's track "More Than In Love" from May 1981, which went to number 2; Robbins was currently playing chanteuse Kate Loring, who recorded the song in the Crossroads basement.
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The show originally focused on the different routes taken in life by sisters Meg Richardson and Kitty Jarvis (the former a motel-running widow, the latter owning a newsagents shop), later being joined in King's Oak by their supermarket-managing brother Andy Fraser. The idea of exploring family ties in this way drifted off somewhat when Meg proved to be hugely popular with viewers, and also by the unexpected death in 1969 of Kitty actress Beryl Johnstone.
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Has earned the nickname "The Actor's Graveyard", because actors with once promising careers have known to fail for appearing on the show. One exception is David Jason, who went onto a very successful TV career, and has even defended the show. After doing a guest spot, Jason was asked to become a regular; he declined because he didn't want to be tied down to playing just one character at this stage in his career.
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The show had five episodes a week, but by 1967, it was dropped to four and then in 1980 it became three.
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Although critically disparaged and satirized, it was a big hit in its day, second only to Coronation Street (1960), and sometimes first.
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The cast had to learn many new lines as characters were undergoing personality transplants all the time as new scriptwriters came and went.
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Guest spots on the show lasted up to three months.
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Actors were paid £76 a week.
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Filmed in the Midlands.
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There were actually 4928 episodes made, many of them filmed on the same day the programmes were actually broadcast.
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The character of Jill Harvey (daughter of Meg Richardson) had an eleven-month pregnancy. Actress Jane Rossington became pregnant in real life and this was written in to the show. Sadly, she suffered a miscarriage but agreed to be 'padded up' so that her character's pregnancy could continue. The actress then became pregnant again and finally gave birth nearly a year after her character announced on screen that she was expecting a baby.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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