Sunday, 27 April 2014

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 45: Sam Carne - "Carney"

 Carney - a much loved member of the Crossroads staff.

Sam Carne, known to all as "Carney" and played by actor Jack Woolgar, first appeared in Crossroads in 1975 and stayed until 1978, when Mr Woolgar died. Originally a rather grim man, employed as a lock keeper, Carney developed into a lovable old gent and part-time gardener and night watchman at the motel.

Carney loved the garden, was a good friend and confidante to many of the locals - including Benny Hawkins, and of a slightly forelock tugging disposition when it came to the likes of his bosses, Meg Mortimer and David Hunter. His generation is no longer with us, and watching him in old episodes brings back happy memories of similar people I knew when I was a child, teenager and young man.

Fondly remembered, and a rare positive representation of an elderly man in the English soaps, in which they are usually depicted as comic, or mean, or gossipy or downright stupid - or a combination of some or all of those qualities!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 46: Vince Parker

Vince Parker, friend of Miss Tatum and many others, briefly husband of Diane Lawton and step-father of her son Nicky, and cheerful postman of King's Oak in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Continuing the Crossroads 50th anniversary rundown of our 50 favourite characters of the 1960s, '70s and '80s, a first class choice for No 46 is King's Oak village postman and part-time motel barman Vince Parker, played by Peter Brookes. Vince arrived in King's Oak in 1968 and soon palled up with Miss Tatum, who ran the post office and village store. He was a cheerful bloke with an eye for the ladies, but narrowly survived tragedy shortly after his arrival when he was knocked off his bike by Meg Richardson, who had swerved to avoid a cat on the road whilst driving. Vince suffered temporary blindness, but recovered and was soon participating in King's Oak village life again.

When motel waitress Diane Lawton became pregnant, it was at first thought by local gossips that Vince was the father, but he wasn't. The man responsible was actually American film star Frank Adam. Despite this, Vince married Diane in 1971 and was very fond of her son, Nicky. However, cracks soon appeared in the fledgling marriage, Vince was particularly unhappy that Frank Adam was sending money to help support Nicky.

Vince and Di filed for divorce.

Vince left the village in 1973, returning only once and very  briefly for the wedding of Meg Richardson to Hugh Mortimer in 1975.

Vince, despite his dramas, was a very positive and likeable character, and provided a lot of fun moments during his stay in the series. The character was also believable, even if some of the situations he found himself in were rather out of the ordinary.

The sort of bloke I'd be happy to have a pint with down the local.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 47 - Lloyd Munroe

 1980: Tish,  Meg,  Lloyd and Diane are worried about Rosemary.

Lloyd Munroe, played by Alan Gifford, was a cheery American psychiatrist who graced King's Oak with his presence from 1978 to 1980. Lloyd was a great friend to bereaved Meg Mortimer, mourning the sudden tragic passing of her husband Hugh, and gave therapy to David Hunter's deranged wife, Rosemary. In 1980, Lloyd told Rosemary that she didn't love David as she claimed, she hated him, which seemed to push Rosemary right over the edge into confronting David with a gun and then shooting him. But what the heck, the human mind is a tricky beast to deal with, and there's no doubt Lloyd meant well.

Lloyd had a difficult relationship with his daughter, Kathryn Fischer, and her dalliance with serial philanderer Ted Hope, husband of poor old Tish, didn't help matters.

Lloyd was responsible for bringing novelist Barbara Brady to the village when, engaged in some research for her latest work, she became his housekeeper in 1979. She married David Hunter in 1980.

In an era when the majority of new characters were grim (remember how Doris Luke was originally? Clover Hawkins? The set-up at Haywood Farm? Reg and Alison Cotterill?) Lloyd seemed like a breath of fresh air.

Fondly remembered.

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 48: Mavis Hooper

Mrs Mavis Ada Hooper - King's Oak semi-regular, 1981-1985.

Miserable Mavis Hooper, played by Charmian Eyre, was in the Crossroads saga from 1981 to 1985. And when Mrs Overall, played by Julie Walters in the hilarious Victoria Wood As Seen On TV series made her debut in '85, the resemblance between the two was obvious and brilliant.

This has served to underline Mavis in my memory, but there's no doubt she's worth remembering anyway - for forging a friendship with shifty young Iris Scott, putting up with shifty husband Sid, and generally being a rather grim good egg.

Mavis ran a boarding house in King's Oak, and her biggest treat in life seemed to be popping in next door to watch the neighbour's colour telly.

On New Year's Day 1982, she drank a toast to a "happy and prosperous new year". But, of course, she didn't have one.

Whilst Mavis advised Iris "If you've got a man, you be with him," her own husband, Sid, left a lot to be desired, turning up after a long period of estrangement in 1982 and bringing poor old Mave more heart ache with his betting and attraction to Iris's mother, Rose. He soon flitted again, but turned up when Mavis was ill in hospital and  then turned out to be not such a bad old stick after all.

In 1984, Mavis turned sixty and reviewed her life. She decided to divorce Sid and fell for the charms of elderly conman Cecil Beecher-Blount.

Cecil was revealed to be a rotter (although the news was kept from Mavis) and Mavis stayed with Sid.

Mavis was very kind to Benny (when his ESP wasn't freaking her out - "Don't catch that bus!!") and Uncle Wally Soper. She died in 1985. Sid had suspected that her heart lay elsewhere - with Cecil Beecher-Blount to be precise, but on her deathbed she told him she loved him.

Poor old Mave.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 49: Sheila Harvey

Sheila with the other Harveys back in the day.

Sheila, played by Sonia Fox back in the early-to-mid 1970s, would probably feature much higher in my 50th anniversary favourites list had she been around for longer. There was just something about the character I particularly liked, something indefinable which placed her above many other King's Oak residents in my affections. Some performers simply have the ability to make their characters believable and invest them with a likeable warmth, and Sonia Fox certainly did that with Sheila.

Sheila was the daughter of pigeon fancier Wilf Harvey, the unlikely father-in-law of Jill Richardson. She was once an elocutionist, and later worked as a hairdresser. The character caused Crossroads viewers much angst back in the day by getting pregnant out of wedlock and having her baby delivered at the motel by Meg Richardson.

Sheila gave her baby to sister-in-law Jill to bring up. Later, she married the baby's father, Roy Mollison, took the baby back, and the family soon faded from the King's Oak scene. Where did they go? I can't remember, but Sheila remains a fond memory from Crossroads way back then.

Next up: A Mrs Overall prototype at No 48...