Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 25: Beverley Grice

Moaning Beverley Grice featured in the Crossroads saga from 1987-1988. She hated King's Oak, hated her new school, hated her school uniform, but liked the winter - "When everything's dead!"

In its final stages, Crossroads, or Crossroads, Kings Oak, as it became, altered a great deal.

Loved it?

Hated it?

Well, I liked it, and one of my favourite ingredients in the new village brew was the addition of younger characters like Jason and Beverley Grice. Life at kids/teens level was suddenly seen in the saga, and I think it worked extremely well.

Beverley Grice, played by Karen Murden, was a typical working class teenage girl of the late 1980s. She was stroppy. She had terrible hair. She wished she had a more glamorous name. She hated school. She liked spending ages on the phone to her friends.

The Grice family were not terribly happy anyway. Mother Margaret was hardworking and strove for a better future for the family with the village shop. Lazy Dad Ray pulled Margaret back and swilled beer and scoffed Pot Noodles and lounged on the settee as much as possible. Bev's brother, Jason, was heavily into annoying his sister, listening to his personal stereo and playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Beverley hated moving to King's Oak and worried about fitting in at her new school. When she met slightly posher Sara Briggs, she lied to her, telling her that her name was "Chloe". 

Beverley was furious when Jason said that Chloe was the name of a smelly old dog belonging to a previous neighbour of the family and denied it, saying the dog was called called "Woofer".

No, said Jason, their grandmother had called the dog "Woofer", but its real name was Chloe.

After this was verified by Margaret, Beverley stormed out of the room.

Oh, those days of teenage tantrums!

Romantically, Beverley was very immature. She originally dated grocer's son Ranjit, then posh Jamie Maddingham, but dropped Jamie like a hot brick when Ranjit offered her a nice engagement ring.

It's unlikely the engagement would have lasted had the serial continued. And pity poor Ranjit if it had!

The character of Beverley was brilliantly acted and observed. She was, for me, one of the best characters of the William Smethurst innovations, which included other personal favourites such as Mrs Tardebigge, Tommy "Bomber" Lancaster and Charlie Mycroft.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 26: Marian Owen

 Marian Owen, kindness personified in King's Oak, from 1978 to 1985.

Marian Owen, played by Margaret John intermittently from 1978 to 1985, would be much higher on our Top 50 Favourites list had she been around a bit more and had some story-lines of her own. As it is, she was a lovely character, a great favourite of ours, and her contributions to the well-being of other King's Oak locals was heartwarming.

Marian first appeared in 1978 as the receptionist at the group practice in King's Oak. A childless widow, Marian was a wonderful friend to have around in a crisis.

In 1980, the character developed a family - nephew Kevin, sister Sally and brother-in-law Oliver Banks. She also had two nieces.

A big year for Marian was 1983, as her nephew's wife, Glenda, had a test tube baby, and sister Sally's marriage went on the rocks. Marian was there, advising, comforting, and, on one occasion, giving Kevin a piece of her mind when he was rude to his mother-in-law, Kath Brownlow.

But still Marian had no stories of her own. We knew she was a member of the local amateur dramatics society, but that was never explored. The character simply seemed content to be around for others, radiating warmth and concern.

She was able to empathise and sympathise with Kath Brownlow when Kath was widowed  in 1982. The death of Marian's own husband before the character entered the series had obviously affected her deeply. But, well balanced as she was, Marian had grieved and then got on with her life. There was never a hint of depression or self pity.

Margaret John was fabulous in the role, and probably the reason why Marian remains in our memories to this day.

In 1985, Kath met Stephen Fellowes, a former housemaster at son-in-law's Kevin old school. Marian was around to advise and listen as the relationship developed.

Her final appearance was at Stephen and Kath's wedding.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Our Top 50 Crossroads Characters - 27: Sharon Metcalfe

Sharon Metcalfe, 1983. She began as a secretary at the motel garage in the late 1970s, but went on to run the place in the early 1980s.

Sharon Metcalfe, played by Carolyn Jones, became the secretary at the motel garage in 1977 and quickly proved that nice girls DO.

A modern girl (as Sheena Easton was to sing in 1980), that was Sharon.

She was also a competent businesswoman and, as her role in Crossroads developed in the early-1980s, took on the running of the garage. How's that for Women's Lib?

Sharon was a multifaceted character. It says much for Carolyn Jones's performances that Sharon emerged as believable and as somebody we viewers could care about.

Let's take a look at Miss Metcalfe...

Firstly, Sharon was kind hearted. She was a great friend to have, and looked out for her friends. In 1982, when Sid Hooper used rent money from Mavis's boarding house to pay-off gambling debts he'd caused Benny to accrue and had had to pay back at Diane's insistence, Sharon came to Sid's rescue with an advance on his wages. In 1983, Sharon told Mr Paul where to get off in no uncertain terms when he was giving Diane grief.

We never knew anything about Sharon's background. No old friends or relatives came to visit her, and she never mentioned any. A rolling stone gathers no moss...

Sharon liked the opposite sex. She was looking for love, but her one night stand with the dreadful Jim Baines was clearly not part of that. She probably just felt sorry for him. Her romances were not particularly chaste by Crossroads standards on-screen. She loved and lost Victor Lee, manager of the garage, and, in 1980, took up with his bad boy brother, Eddie. I remember a scene with Eddie and Sharon in Di's flat that seemed rather sexy (again by Crossroads standards) and which my old Aunt Lou denounced as "disgusting!" She'd never said that about ex-tart Vera Downend.

Having taken a break from the garage, Sharon returned in late 1981 and promptly put Adam Chance in his place by smacking his face.

In 1982, Sharon rejected the advances of nice villain Reg Lamont. He installed her as manageress of the garage, which he bought, and Sharon set out to prove that she could do the job and make it successful for him.

And she did.

Meanwhile, Sharon had started dating Reg's son, police officer Ashley Lamont, but she dropped him in disgust when he snared his father and brought him to account for his villainy.

Sharon reckoned that Reg had never actually hurt anybody, and was horrified by Ashley's cold and heartless attitude.

In 1983, Sharon fell for Kevin Banks's father, Oliver. He was rather older than her and made all the running, but Sharon professed to love him.

This caused ructions - with Kath Brownlow and, briefly, her daughter Glenda, telling Sharon exactly what they thought of her. "Look at all the men she's had!" said Glenda, who later repented.

Sharon's relationship with Oliver broke up, causing her much hurt.

And then the character changed direction and gave us another surprise. In 1983, she became friendly with single parent Denise Paget and her Downs Syndrome daughter, Nina, and then launched herself into a brand new career in care work.

Perhaps, at last, rolling stone Sharon had found her niche in life... 

Sadly, the character's work was now away from the motel and its garage and, as she was no longer flat sharing with Diane Hunter, we no longer saw her in the show.

She was missed and is fondly remembered.