The 71-year-old actress who spoke the first line in the saga ‘Crossroads Motel, Good Evening’ (out of vision the first person seen was Joan Gordon), says she is ‘delighted’ the cult soap opera is being re-run on Big Centre TV.
“I am delighted that audiences will be able to experience the phenomenon that was Crossroads. We filmed at a number of locations here in the Midlands, so it’s great that Big Centre TV, the local station for the area, has chosen it as the headline show.
“Many people have fond memories of the show and even today I meet people who remember characters and storylines.”
Crossroads was originally produced at the Alpha Television Centre in Aston Cross on the outskirts of Birmingham when it launched in 1964, it moved to central Birmingham in 1969. Locations for the Crossroads Motel include Walford Hall in Baschurch, The Longshoot Motel in Nuneaton and Penns Hall Hotel in Sutton Coldfield.
“It’s an incredible honour to bring Crossroads back to viewers. More than 4,500 episodes were filmed, but only around 3,000 have survived and these are mostly from 1978-1988. The earlier editions were largely lost and only a few classic editions survive. However, we plan to show all editions available, including those known as the ‘Crossroads Classics’.
“Bringing Crossroads back to the small screen has only been possible because of the close partnership between ITV and me and my team at Kaleidoscope. Arranging this deal was not easy as checking assets from the 1960s took time, restoration and research, but we are deeply proud to be the new home of such an iconic programme.” – Channel director, Chris Perry
Set in the near-Birmingham fictional village of Kings Oak Crossroads revolved around the staff and guests of the Crossroads Motel with series matriarch Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon) overseeing proceedings. The show won many awards over its original run, including ‘ITV Programme of the Year’ in 1967 and ‘Best TV Series’ in the 1974 Daily Telegraph Awards. Noele Gordon as Meg won many TV Times awards including in one year alone three different gongs.
In 1975 Birmingham City Centre was brought to a standstill when Meg married Hugh Mortimer (John Bentley) as 1000s of fans filled the streets to get a look at the ‘happy couple’.
Despite its huge popularity with viewers, it was disliked by critics, and later some comedians, who picked up on the rushed production values. It was however at the time the only serial to make five episodes a week with Coronation Street and Emmerdale only airing twice a week. Despite this it lured popular personalities to appear as themselves in the series such as Larry Grayson, Ken Dodd and Bob Monkhouse. Well known actors from the series include Kathy Staff, David Jason, Elaine Paige, Sue Lloyd, Malcolm McDowell and Gabrielle Drake.
Well remembered storylines include the motel being blown up by a bomb in 1967, Meg being poisoned by her warped husband in 1969, an American GI on the run holding several villagers hostage in the church in 1971, a plane crash in 1978 and the end of an era as the motel burned down in 1981. The series was also in some ways ahead of its time with many social plots leading the way, such as the introduction of the first regular black family in 1974, a test tube baby plot in 1984 and the founding of the still running Crossroads Care/Carers Trust charity which began in a 1972 storyline.
Jane will be taking part in a special celebration of the soap in Crossroads Reopened! on Saturday night on Big Centre TV. Freeview/YouView Channel 8.
Top: Jane Rossington at Birmingham Cathedral in 2010. Middle: Far from domestic bliss for Stan and Jill Harvey (Ed Clayton and Jane Rossington) 1973. Bottom: Crossroads cast in 1974 at the London Palladium.