This week marks the 45th anniversary of the legendary and fondly remembered midlands soap, Crossroads.
While it might have been off-air now for some time the series lives on through fandom and a series of best-selling DVD releases – releases which have outsold classic episodes of Emmerdale Farm and Coronation Street on DVD. This week to mark the 45th anniversary a huge box set containing every known surviving episode from 1965 to 1979 has been released and to mark this we’ve taken a look back at some of those memorable and iconic characters that featured in Crossroads across the years.
Meg Mortimer [Noele Gordon]
Most people will remember Meg as Mrs. Richardson, the owner of the Kings Oak Motel, known as Crossroads. The new business brought plenty of new faces and friends into Meg’s life. Her daughter Jill and son Sandy helped her run the family business in the early days, and her motel became the hub of the community.
She was a shoulder to cry on for staff and visitors a-like. A warm smile and words of wisdom were Meg’s forte, unfortunately she didn’t quite manage to keep her family as respectable and as moral as she’d have liked. Meg could also hold her own, her sharp tongue and overpowering presence would frighten most troublemakers away faster than she could say “boo.”
The motel as well as much happiness also brought Meg a lot of heartache too. She was slung in prison for dangerous driving, her son Sandy was involved in a car crash which left him disabled and her second husband Malcolm tried to kill her. If that wasn’t enough her third husband Hugh was killed when he was taken hostage and her precious motel burned to the ground ending her reign as Queen of Kings Oak. Meg left the village in 1981 to start a new less hectic life with her step-son Anthony and grandson Matthew.
She sailed off to New York on the QE2 never to return to the village. Meg’s last appearance in the soap was in 1983 when she was briefly reunited with daughter Jill in Venice, Italy. Newly wed Jill met up with Meg as arranged by Adam Chance as a wedding surprise for his new bride. Meg was due to return to Crossroads in 1985 for three months but sadly actress Noele Gordon passed away before she could reprise the role fans loved so much.
Jill was the daughter of Motel owner Meg and was often the source of many a headache for poor Meg. If Jill wasn’t having an in-apprioate affair she was marrying a bigamist, joining a cult or addicted to alcohol and painkillers.
Jill wasn’t much success in the business world either with her boutique in King’s Oak failing somewhat. Later Jill worked at the Motel once more in the saloon before going through various jobs, and men, at the Motel. In the 1970s she married Stan Harvey and had a daughter with him, Sarah-Jane.
The pregnancy infamously lasted nearly a year due to storyline issues! Jill’s marriage to Stan ended after she had an affair with her brother-in-law and fell pregnant. Stan moved to Germany and won custody of Sarah-Jane, leaving Jill devastated.
Jill suffered further headache when the Motel burnt down in 1981 and Jill believed that Meg had perished inside the inferno. But Jill was reunited with Meg a week later when it was revealed Meg had quit the Motel and was sailing away on the QE2. In 1983 Jill married Adam after an on-off relationship although both cheated during the marriage and when the series ended in 1988 Jill was forced to choose between Adam and local pub landlord, John Maddingham.
Adam was the loser and Jill and John sailed away together into the sunset. Jill was one of the characters to return for Carlton Television’s revival in 2001 but the less said about Jill during her brief return the better!
David Hunter [Ronnie Allen]
David Hunter arrived in King’s Oak in 1969 and soon had his feet firmly under the Motel Office Desk when he bought shares in the business. Professional at work David suffered a somewhat troubled home life with his deeply unstable wife Rosemary often the source of much concern and trouble for David.
Rosemary often caused trouble at the Motel and enjoyed nothing more than upsetting anyone who crossed paths with her. Thankfully for David, Rosemary frequently returned to Switzerland for extended periods – allowing David to work his way through a fair share of women.
In the late 1970s after finally divorcing Rosemary, and dealing with his equally troublesome son Chris, David found happiness and love with novelist Barbara Brady. Although their relationship was also on-off they eventually got engaged. At the engagement party Rosemary finally flipped her lid and shot her former husband – but David survived, Rosemary was sectioned, and he and Barbara married. David and Meg parted on somewhat bad terms in 1981 when Meg quit the Motel and David took charge off the Motel alongside Jill, Adam and Barbara. Barbara and David left King’s Oak in 1985 to start a new life together in Bermuda.
Barbara Hunter [Sue Lloyd]
Barbara Brady originally arrived in King’s Oak in 1979 when she found herself as the house keeper to retired American Doctor, Lloyd Munroe. However, her stint as a house-keeper was in fact research for her latest novel but it brought her into contact with one David Hunter and they started an on-off relationship. Despite the attempts of David’s ex-wife, Rosemary, the two got engaged and later married.
It wasn’t just Rosemary that caused trouble for Barbara with her brother, Douglas, often turning to his sister when he was in trouble. David’s wondering hands and later gambling problems nearly ended their marriage but in 1985 they decided to start afresh in Bermuda and sold their shares in Crossroads and left King’s Oak forever.
[Sue Lloyd, centre, in ITC’s The Saint]
Amy Turtle [Ann George]
The infamous brummie Motel cleaner who routinely forgot or fluffed her lines and more than one occasion even bumped into the scenery! Amy originally arrived in 1965 to work in the village shop run by Kitty Jarvis, Meg’s sister. It wasn’t until 1969 that Amy took her cleaner job at Crossroads, the role she would be most associated with.
Once at the Motel Amy established herself as Gossip Queen and wasn’t shy in being forthcoming with her opinions – which led her to clash with Chef Bernard Booth, House-Keeper Alice Loomis and Post Mistress Edith Tatum amongst others.
Infamously Amy was accused of being a Russian Spy but, of course, Amy was nothing of the sort. Amy was later arrested for shop lifting, she suffered something of a breakdown after the death of her son. In 1976 Amy decided to leave King’s Oak and start afresh elsewhere.
But in the late 1980s she returned as the house-keeper for the Lancaster Family, the new owners of the Hotel.
Tish Hope [Joy Andrews]
Tish began life as an actress under the name of Venetia Dawn; she became very close friends to Meg Richardson and a pillar of society in Kings Oak. She was known widely as Tish and was always on hand to help in the motel; it gave her a chance to be noticed by guests as a former actress.
She had such an impact that she even became one of the director’s of the motel. Later she married Ted Hope a merchant navy captain and together ran the Antique Shop. Luckily for Tish, Ted was also called Hope – so there was no need to change her surname! Sadly all was not bright for Tish as Ted had an affair with Constance Dory but she forgave him sometime later and the marriage survived.
She was also not immune to troubles; Harry Silver held her at gunpoint in her cottage in 1970. Their son, Peter Hope took over from Guy Atkins, as the Kings Oak Reverend in 1966 and he later married motel waitress Marilyn Gates. They left in the late 1960s to start a new life as missionaries in Africa. Tish’s services at the Motel were needed less and less frequently and eventually she bowed out of Motel life all together in the 1980s to spend more time with Ted.
Valerie Pollard [Heather Chasen]
Before Alexis Carrington there was Valerie, the tart with no heart at all. Former fashion model Valerie Pollard was the rich bitch of Kings Oak; married to J Henry Pollard – and mother to Miranda Pollard – from her first visit in 1982 she caused havoc and mayhem wherever she walked. She was a hideously jealous woman, so much so she found men simply play things and she could do as she wished with any man she liked.
She knew Jill Harvey and Adam Chance were to be married, but that made the chase for Adam all the more appealing. She also saw it as a way to get at her husband J. Henry who had forced her to stay at the motel – seemingly to stop her wayward lifestyle in their home of Bermuda.
Valerie took great pleasure to inform J. Henry – in front of Jill, Barbara and David – that she had spent a night of lust with Adam on his boat. Their wedding plans were ruined, and Adam left for Australia. J Henry decided not to ‘play into her hands’ and decided to take no action.
A divorce is what she wanted, but at that point she certainly wasn’t going to get it. She was wooed by many but Paul Ross chose her daughter Miranda over her this is where her true malice came out she wrote many poison pen letters to her own daughter!
Doris Luke [Kathy Staff]
Doris first appeared in 1978 as Ed Lawton’s housekeeper, she was quite a sour-faced woman yet nice at the same time, she could be considered pessimistic as her favourite saying became; “No good will come of it, you mark my words.”
And she did suffer a number of set backs, she was mugged twice and had numerous accidents such as falling from ladders. Yet despite her views and problems she did have a kind heart and became a close friend to Benny Hawkins, so much that when he got a job at the motel he got her a job too, she started as the vegetable cook but also worked as a chambermaid.
In 1982 the love of her life and old sweetheart Tom Logan appeared in Kings Oak. He proposed to her but she said No, he left her in Kings Oak and headed back to Yorkshire. Kath Brownlow and Benny pleaded with her to change her mind and go after him, she agreed and went after Tom, only to hear he had suffered a heart attack, she nursed him back to health, sadly shortly after returning to full health he suffered a second and fatal heart attack..
In 1984 she received a surprise visit from her sister and niece and this convinced her it was time to leave Kings Oak for good. By 2001 Doris had returned to King’s Oak and was working at the Crossroads Hotel with her nephew, Bradley. However, although she got along well with the Russell’s, the Hotel owners, Doris decided to retire from the Hotel in 2002 and moved with Bradley to Manchester.
Diane Lawton [Susan Hanson]
Diane was a long standing cast member serving 21 of the 24 years, she first appeared in early 1965 and got herself a job as a waitress, and she was an orphan who lived with her brother and Aunt.
After getting herself the job as waitress she became good friends with Marilyn Gates and was often in trouble with Carlos the chef, nothing would prepare her for what happened in 1967 an unexploded bomb went off and with one fatality caused Diane to see psychiatric treatment. In 1968 she met a strong influence and someone who became the stability she needed, Vince Parker the postman.
In 1969 along with Jill Richardson she was brain washed by a cult, and both ended up taking part in witchcraft in the grounds of a Kings Oak church. By the early 1970s Vince had offered to marry her and raise her son, Nicky, as his own. In 1972 she had more troubles as Frank Adam had Nicky (their son) kidnapped and taken to America, this sent Diane on a spiral downwards full of drinking and occasional sex.
She managed to start to get herself together by living on Vera Downend’s houseboat and later in the same year had a short fling with taxi firm boss Clifford Layton, but that fizzled out when she decided that she was sick of being hurt by men. This later didn’t stop her however resuming a ‘second try’ at making her marriage to Vince Parker work. But it wasn’t to last. By the late 70s Diane was also helping out at her Uncle Ed’s farm, where she came to know the farm hand Benny Hawkins, from then on she would always be his ‘Miss Diane’ and she very much became his guru.
By the 1980s she had entered into a marriage of convenience with Chris Hunter – the devil behind Meg’s husband Hugh’s tragic and untimely death at the hands of terrorists. Her marriage to Chris evoked the wrath of his mother, Rosemary, who looked down upon Diane. Rosemary did her best to stop and break up their marriage and eventually it worked as Chris and Diane split up and divorced. Sadly Diane’s story wasn’t to end happy and in 1987 she suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage and as her life- support machine was switched off the nation wept for their favourite motel staff member.
Rosemary Hunter [Janet Hargreaves]
The Motel’s very own bunny boiler and perhaps one of soaps first true deranged and dangerous females! Rosemary and husband David moved to King’s Oak in 1969 after running a Hotel together in Bermuda. While David got himself established at the Motel the deeply unhappy Rosemary stayed at home. Eventually their marriage broke-down and Rosemary frequently returned to Switzerland where she had set up home. Rosemary often returned to see her son Chris but also to win back David to whom she was hopelessly devoted too. In 1973 when it seemed certain they would divorce Rosemary declared she had cancer – it was all lies.
Over the following years Rosemary became increasingly bitter, unstable and bitchy delighting in causing trouble with anyone who crossed her path. Rosemary delighted in telling Tish about Ted’s affair, plotted to prevent Chris from marrying waitress Diane Hunter and even threatened legal action over the planned marriage. It was David’s engagement to Barbara Brady that tipped her over the edge. At their engagement party Rosemary shot her former lover after demanding “tell me you love me!”. Rosemary was sectioned shortly after.
Of course there were many, many other memorable and iconic characters that appeared in the soap across the years; Bernard Booth, Shughie McFee, Stan Harvey, Shelia Harvey, Sandy Richardson, Vera Downend, Sharon Metcalf, Benny Hawkins, Vi Blundell, Kitty Jarvis, Marilyn Gates, Miranda Pollard, Nicola Freeman, Mickey Doyle, Mavis Hooper, Glenda Brownlow, Glenda Brownlow, Kevin Banks, Chris Hunter, John Maddingham, Miss Tatum, Lloyd Monroe, Victor Lee, Hugh Mortimer, Carlos Rafael, Paul Ross, Jane Smith and many, many others.
When Carlton Television revived Crossroads in 2001 it might have only lasted two years but in that short space of time the soap produced some characters that fans took to their hearts such as; Kate Russell, Oona Stocks, Tracey Booth, Jake Booth, Virginia Raven, Rocky Wesson, Phil Berry, Billy Taylor, Angel Samson, Betty Waddell, Belle Wise, Lola Wise, Phil Wise, Joe Winter and many more than the few we’ve just mentioned.
This week has seen the release of a huge box set from Network DVD which contains every known surviving episode from 1965 to 1979. The box set contains 41 disks and 323 episodes! The DVD box set is available to buy directly from the Network DVD website or other sites such as HMV.com, Play and Amazon. It is also available to buy from some, larger, retailers.