Saturday, 25 October 2014

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 22: Daniel Freeman

Yuppie Daniel endured much at the motel - Growler and Mrs Tardebigge included.

Daniel, played with great skill by Philip Goodhew, was basically a selfish little swine.

He was the son of the late Herbie Freeman and the step-son of Nicola. He had a twin sister, Joanna.

And he had obviously been spoilt rotten.

What mattered to Daniel was Daniel.

He first turned up at the motel after the sell-out to MIH in 1985, and caused Nicola much angst - by calling her "Queen of the Bunny Girls" one night in the Rally Bar whilst in a drunken rage - and by telling Jill Chance that Nicola and Adam were having an affair.

What a ratbag!

But Daniel had been denied access to his heritage - a very large sum of money indeed - as one of the dying acts of his father, who loved the boy dearly, but knew him well. Daniel was not very mature for his age. And he wouldn't get the dosh until he was thirty. 

And because of this, Daniel was not a happy bunny.

He fell for Tracey Hobbs whilst he was working at the new motel leisure centre, and was shattered to discover that she was Nicola's long lost daughter.

He told Nicola exactly what he thought of her. And, judging by what he said, it seemed that a fair amount of jealousy went into the mix when it came to his feelings towards his stepmother. When Nicola had originally entered Herbie Freeman's life, Daniel had obviously sensed competition for his father's affection - and resented it.

And, even after his father's death, he still resented her. He told Nicola that Herbie had always loved his own mother much more than he had loved her.

Not that Daniel had it all his own way.

For a start, working at the leisure centre and clashing with Adam Chance were not exactly what Daniel was used to. And then there was sharing a staff chalet - first with barman Barry Hart and then with chumpish Charlie Mycroft.

Charlie was particularly difficult. Daniel thought he should have carte blanche to "entertain" ladies in the chalet whenever he chose - all night if he wanted. Surely, Charlie should make himself absent on such occasions? But with Charlie's toy dog, "Growler", guarding Charlie's pillow and Charlie being a clean living "early to bed early to rise" type of chappie, Daniel grew increasingly fed up. At one point, he plotted with his girlfriend, Fiona, and deposited "Growler" in the leisure centre swimming pool. Of course, Charlie was horrified, but fortunately "Growler" recovered.

Daniel later left Crossroads, but returned in April 1988 - a yuppie in the making. "Even my car phone's got its own Filofax!" he chortled.

And he definitely had the last smirk over Adam when it turned out he was representing the Three Crowns company, Jill and Adam's competition for buying Crossroads.

A joy to dislike - that was Daniel. But his story wasn't without some depth and he didn't have all the luck with the ladies. Mrs Tardebigge, the cleaner, who first appeared at the motel in late 1986, thought Daniel adorable and wasted no opportunity to demonstrate that fact.

Poor lad...

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 23: Carlos Rafael


Carlos often landed in the soup in the 1960s...

Carlos Rafael, played by Anthony Morton, arrived at the Crossroads Motel as chef soon after the series began, prompting Vi  Blundell, acting cook, to walk out in a huff. Meg Richardson had ordered an English chef from an agency, but there was some mix-up, and in walked fiery, Spanish Carlos.

He was the very first of the temperamental Crossroads chefs, and started a trend.

Carlos was basically a kind hearted man, but his temper could be explosive - and he could be very impulsive and not terribly clever at times. But, as the saying goes, every pan has its lid, and Carlos was soon followed to England by his lovely, gentle wife, Josefina, who also worked in the kitchen, and as a waitress. She served as a calming influence - to some extent, anyway!

Carlos was fiery, no doubt about that, and threw a terrific strop at the drop of a hat (remember Sandy Richardson embedding a biro in the wedding cake Carlos was preparing?!), but his boss, Meg Richardson, could quell him at times, and on one memorable occasion chased him from reception into the kitchen!

Carlos was noted for his comic story-lines, being chased by a bull was one of them, and so it came as a shock when he returned to Spain - I can't remember why but seem to recall him becoming a bit spiritual after a story about a haunted tree in the motel grounds. He was killed trying to rescue some children from a fire whilst in his homeland.

His was a sad loss - what a character! 

The death of Carlos also marked the beginning of a regrettable trend which peppered Crossroads' history in the 1970s and 1980s: the writing out of popular long-term characters when the actors who played them did not actually want to leave. Think Zeph Gladstone. Think John Bentley. Think Edward Clayton. Think Sue Lloyd. Think Ronald Allen. 

Noele Gordon in her autobiography, My Life At Crossroads, stated that staff in a motel were always changing and viewers would get bored always seeing the same faces on-screen.

She did not adopt this view in 1981, however, when Meg Mortimer sailed away on the QE2...


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Our Top 50 Crossroads Characters - 24: Sid Hooper


I didn't much care for Sid Hooper when he first arrived in 1982. But he soon became an all-time favourite character.

Good old Sid Hooper, played by Stan Stennett, started off in 1982 as possibly bad old Sid Hooper. He arrived in King's Oak, landed on estranged wife Mavis's doorstep, and also landed himself a job at the Crossroads Garage as foreman. Sid was a funny mechanic - obviously a bit on the vain side, he used barrier cream to protect his hands. It quickly became evident that he was not a terribly nice geezer - he had a weakness for gambling on the gee gees, and for other women - including Rose Scott, Iris's tarty mother.

Rose, for once, put her daughter's interests first and did not succumb, and Sid was soon dispatched. His arrival as garage foreman had enraged Joe MacDonald, who had been promised the job. It was all a misunderstanding, but Joe threatened to bring in the Race Relations Board. It took some fancy footwork from new garage owner Reg Lamont to remove Sid and give Joe his rightful job. He bought off some of Sid's gambling debts on condition that Sid left the garage. Sid did - and skipped the district for a while.

He returned when Mavis went into hospital, got a job as a mechanic back at the garage, stopped using barrier cream on his hands, and promptly led Benny Hawkins into bad ways, introducing him to the evils of gambling. Diane, of course, quickly moved in to ensure that Sid paid Benny back the money he had lost on the nags.

But Sid had meant no harm - and was becoming likeable. He had a genuine soft spot for Benny, and we viewers really began to warm to Sid.

Sid was basically a bit of a dreamer, but his dreams of romance, sun-kissed beaches and untold wealth never came to anything. Sad, really. Taking up jogging in 1984 did not give him a more youthful and appealing physique. And when he sold used cars at the garage in 1985, the police soon came calling.

In 1984, Sid faced the prospect of losing Mavis to that bounder Cecil Beecher-Blount. Mavis was sick of Sid and, on reaching sixty, decided to divorce him. Then Cecil sunk his hooks into her. Sid helped to save Mave from a fate worse than himself and Mavis stayed with him, telling him on her deathbed in 1985 that she had always loved him.

Sid was devastated by her loss. 

In 1986, the dreadful Ivy Meacher sunk her hooks into Sid. They married and left King's Oak.

Poor Sid!

It was a sad end for yet another of those Crossroads characters who had the tang of utter believability, and who would have made a good boozing company down at the Running Stag.

But definitely not for providing hot tips on the gee gees...