Saturday, 13 November 2010

When Arthur And Kath Brownlow Were Different...

Arthur and Kath Brownlow in 1982. This is how we remember them!

Thanks to Solly who writes:

Regarding your query about the characters of Arthur and Kath Brownlow: they were originally played by Hilary Martin and Brian Haines very briefly in 1976, when Glenda was attacked by a lorry driver. They were just in a few episodes. Towards the end of 1979, they were recast with Peter Hill and Pamela Vezey taking the roles into the 1980s as permanent characters.

Thank you so much! Mystery solved!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Crossroads Time Frame

Life was a riot for Glenda Banks (Lynette McMorrough) in the early 1980s.

Chloe writes:

Was the Crossroads time frame set to our time? Were the motel events of, say, 1968 set in 1968 or did they take place earlier, and so on? Also, Coronation Street tends to alter characters' ages to suit story-lines, did Crossroads do this?

Hi, Chloe!

Interesting questions! Yes, the Crossroads time frame matched ours. In a 1974 episode I have on DVD, Meg and Hugh discuss 1974; in a 1979 episode, Benny is seen looking at a 1979 calendar; in 1980, Sandy Richardson jokingly refers to somebody as being "Miss 1980"; in 1981, the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer is mentioned; when Diane was dispatched to Scotland by J Henry Pollard in 1983, a close-up shot of Diane was shown - with the motel office wall calendar behind her - the year was, of course, 1983; and so on.

As for the altering of characters' ages Coronation Street style, in her book, My Life At Crossroads, Noele Gordon reveals that one character, Martin Bell, was made a year older than he originally was so that he could work as a barman at the motel.

But Crossroads didn't make a habit of this practice!

Whilst background information was kept on Crossroads characters and story-lines, there was no full-time archivist, so sometimes things could get a bit jumbled.

I recall a character referring to a past event in the story-line as happening in a particular year, but the event actually took place a year later. However apart from that, I have no other quibbles.

All in all, Crossroads did remarkably well, there were more episodes and more transient characters than in Coronation Street or Emmerdale Farm, but mistakes were very few. I tended to just mentally correct them and then ignore them. But I must say, I have a large number of Crossroads episodes, and such goofs are virtually non-existent!

The motel saga rarely mentioned controversial political issues, but in 1982 exception was made when the UK Government policy regarding inflation and unemployment was discussed by the Brownlows - and the riots which rocked the country during the summer of 1981 spread to King's Oak when a march for employment was infiltrated by troublemakers!

As this was before subversive Channel 4 soap Brookside began, it really was a one-up to Crossroads.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Arthur Brownlow - Exit Line...

Kath and Arthur Brownlow (Pamela Vezey and Peter Hill) start 1982 with a spot of telly. Kath ends the year alone.

Greg writes:

In 1982, what was Arthur Brownlow's exit line?

As you probably know, poor old Arthur was killed in a hit and run road accident.

His exit line in 1982 was: "STOP!"

Peter Hill later narrated an old and previously unopened letter from Arthur to Kath, which was discovered at the Brownlows' house.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Iris And Glenda Unite For Angela's Wedding!

When the Brownlow family moved to King's Oak at the end of 1979, Glenda Brownlow (Lynette McMorrough) was not happy - she'd left home to escape her parents, particularly her grumpy father, Arthur (Peter Hill).

The Brownlows - Arthur, Kath (Pamela Vezey), and Ron (Ian Liston) became familiar to Crossroads viewers as the show moved into the 1980s, but Noele Gordon initially loathed them as they were so downbeat!

As an aside, I seem to recall that Ian Liston made his screen debut as Ron Brownlow a little later than Kath and Arthur's arrival - perhaps around the start of 1980. If anybody has further information, I'd be very glad to hear from them!

The Brownlow family set-up wasn't exactly exciting, so, in 1980, Crossroads introduced two new characters - Kevin Banks (David Moran) and Iris Scott (Angela Webb). Kevin became Glenda's boyfriend, Iris, who was Kath's niece, became a terrible trouble maker.

Iris really was something. "I ain't done nuffink, Auntie Kath," she'd say, all innocence, but in reality...

Iris's opening move was to cause distress to the Hunters, when she purloined some cassettes containing recordings of therapy sessons, taped by Lloyd Munroe (Alan Gifford). The person being "theraped" was none other than Rosemary Hunter (Janet Hargreaves).

And it was revealed via the cassettes that Chris Hunter (Stephen Hoy) was not actually the son of David (Ronald Allen).

Oower, missus!

Around November 1980, determined to upset her cousin Glenda's cosy applecart, Iris seduced Kevin Banks.

And then, in 1981, Iris falsely accused her uncle-in-law Arthur Brownlow of molesting her in a motel chalet!


The Brownlows were no longer unexciting.

"You really are a bitch, Iris!" said Jill Chance (Jane Rossington) in 1984.

But Iris wasn't always a bitch - and that's what made her interesting. She could be kind and supportive - an excellent person to have around. You never knew quite what to expect from Iris!

In March 1981, bad feeling was running high between Glenda and Iris but, behind the scenes, things were very different...

From the Daily Mirror, March 17, 1981:

Crossroads actress Angela Webb buries the hatchet... with a wedding day hug for her worst screen enemy.

Angela, who is bitchy kitchen hand Iris in the hit TV series, married musician Robert Griffin on her 24th birthday yesterday, and picked actress Lynette McMorrough, who plays Glenda Brownlow, as bridesmaid.

The girls are good friends outside the Crossroads Motel. Lynette, 25, introduced Angela to Robert five months ago.

Several of the show's stars took time off from rehearsals to join the wedding celebrations at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

1980s cast photographs of Angela Webb, Ian Liston, Pamela Vezey, Lynette McMorrough, Peter Hill and David Moran. Arthur's opening story-line involved him being diagnosed with a terminal illness. In early 1980, it was discovered that there had been a mix-up, another Arthur Brownlow had died, and the King's Oak version lived on until 1982; Glenda married Kevin in 1981, and went on to have a test-tube baby in 1983; Ron fell in love with cousin Iris, but left to work on an oil rig after she had a phantom pregnancy; Kath went upwardly mobile after Arthur's death, by marrying posh school teacher Stephen Fellowes (John Line).

1980: The Wedding Of David And Barbara Hunter...

From the Daily Mirror, 5 April, 1980:

All the world loves a wedding - and the bosses of ITV's Crossroads series are hoping their viewers are no exception.

For next Wednesday David Hunter, who runs the famous Midlands motel, is taking the plunge with vivacious Barbara Brady, played by Sue Lloyd.

It promises to be the screen wedding of the year as Hunter - actor Ronald Allen - escorts his bride to the picteresque church at St Mary Magdalene at Tamworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire, for a blessing after the register-office ceremony.

He's been wooing her long enough. And the programme chiefs hope the wedding will woo a few more regular viewers too.

Sue Lloyd had made her Crossroads debut as Barbara Brady the previous year, a mysterious figure who acted as housekeeper to Lloyd Munroe (Alan Gifford) and appeared to be set on poisoning him! But she was in reality an authoress, simply carrying out some research for her latest novel.

Barbara soon found herself dallying with David and the local doctor, but in 1980 she plumped for our Mr Hunter of the motel.

The Hunters became, in my opinion, one of the most enjoyable ingredients of the show as a married couple in the early-to-mid 1980s - a King's Oak era which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Stan Stennett As Sid Hooper...

Sid Hooper (Stan Stennett) arrived at the Crossroads Garage in early 1982, and created quite a stir. Adam Chance (Tony Adams) appointed him foreman, which greatly upset Joe MacDonald (Carl Andrews), who had been promised the position. Mac went to the race relations board and trouble brewed.

Adam had not meant to be racist - he simply believed that Sid was better qualified for the job, but the fact remained that Mac had been promised it long before.

Sid, meanwhile, was revealed as being the wandering husband of boarding house keeper Mavis Hooper (Charmian Eyre), and moved in with her. His weakness for gambling and women soon showed, and he departed from King's Oak after his new boss at the garage, Reg Lamont (Reginald Marsh) bought him off - giving him money to pay off his gambling debts on condition that he gave up his job at the garage, leaving the way open for Mac to take over.

Sid was absent from the village from some time, finally returning when Mavis was taken ill.

Re-employed by the garage, Sid became a much nicer guy - in fact, one of my favourite Crossroads characters of the 1980s - he remained in King's Oak until 1987.

Sid was simply quality. A character I could believe in, and one I would have enjoyed having a pint with in the pub. Mr Stennett played the part so naturally, and Sid seemed very real.

Stan Stennett first brought Sid to life in 1982, but had previously played a very different character twelve years before, Harry Silver, who held Mr Booth (David Lawton) and Tish Hope (Joy Andrews) at gunpoint.

The role of Harry Silver had been very brief, but Stan Stennett remembered it and suggested that Harry might return in 1981 - and shoot Meg Mortimer (Noele Gordon), who was being written out.

Crossroads producer Jack Barton thought this might make Stan the most unpopular man in the UK, but instead suggested a brand new and very different role - Sid Hooper.

And Sid soon became a Crossroads icon.

From the Daily Mirror, February 27, 1985:


Although he plays a Crossroads garage man who loves to gamble, Stan Stennett never bets in real life.

His passion is the challenge of running three theatres - two of which double as cinemas. He subsidises them with his Crossroads earnings.

It was there at his Roses Theatre in Tewksbury, Gloucs., that Stan put on a special celebrity show that raised more than £2,000 for the Mirror's Ethiopian appeal.

Stan thinks his Sid Hooper character is mellowing.

"He used to be much more prickly when I started off in Crossroads three years ago," he says. "But I've softened him up a bit. Now he's developing an eye for the ladies."

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

1983: Controversy Over Glenda's Test Tube Baby...

Glenda Banks (Lynette McMorrough) is thrilled to hear from the hospital that the time has come for her to try for a test tube baby. Her mother, Kath (Pamela Vezey), after initial doubts, shares Glenda's joy.

Oh, how Glenda wanted a baby!

But she couldn't have one.

Until the notion of having a test tube baby entered her head...

And then, despite Kath's doubts about the method ("interfering with nature!"), Kevin's doubts about having a child at all, and her mother-in-law Sally Banks' horror at the social implications (Whatever would her friend Bunty say?!), Glenda became a woman with a mission.

She was obsessed with the idea of having a test tube baby.

It wasn't easy to raise the brass.

But finally Glenda found herself in hospital, all systems go. And she was lucky - her very first attempt at conceiving via in vitro fertilisation was successful.

And then the real world objected...

Daily Mirror, October 24, 1983:

Crossroads was attacked last night for giving TV viewers the idea that it is easy to have a test-tube baby.

Waitress Glenda Banks, played by actress Lynette McMorrough, is due to have a test-tube baby in January.

But a group representing couples who are desperate to have children claims the soap opera storyline is far from the truth.

Peter Houghton, director of the National association of Childless Couples, said: "It is totally unrealistic because it makes the whole question of test-tube babies seem easy."

Brenda Holliday, the association's administrator, has sent a letter of protest to the producers.

She said: "Our members are disgusted because they have been through the terrible heartache of waiting for a baby and then they see a show like Crossroads which makes it seem so easy.

"If the Crossroads team knew what many couples suffer through spending years on waiting lists and going through the anguish of not conceiving they might realise why so many people have been infuriated by Glenda's test-tube baby."

A spokesman for Central TV, which makes Crossroads, said: "Our scriptwriters carried out a great deal of research. They are making this part of the plot as authentic as possible."

Hmm... well, Glenda was only on the waiting list for a short time...

But in defence of Crossroads, upon her arrival at the hospital, Glenda met a woman called Rachel who had had several unsuccessful attempts at conceiving via in vitro fertilisation, and experienced another failure whilst Glenda was there.

There was at least some attempt to balance Glenda's good fortune.

And it was nice to see the Brownlow/Banks family enjoying a happy storyline for once.