Saturday, 5 December 2015

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 20: Mrs Tardebigge

A brand new character introduced in late 1986 - new broom (or hoover) sweeps clean. Mrs Tardebigge, created by William Smethurst, wasn't really a great char. But she was funny.

Mrs Eileen Tardebigge, played by Elsie Kelly, was probably the first major sign of the changes that were to be introduced by new producer William Smethurst. She arrived at the motel in late 1986, a brand new character, to take on the job of cleaner, and, having met Benny Hawkins, she decided there were some very funny people working at Crossroads (funny peculiar, not "ha, ha!").

She was rather peculiar/"funny" herself, but in the grand tradition of such characters was blissfully unaware of the fact.

I'm a great fan of Crossroads from start to finish, I embraced each new era, which sets me apart from some other fans, and I found Mrs T to be a delight. She had a beehive hairdo (before it caught fire when she was cooking fish fingers); she called men "lover"; she was the secretary of the Pat Boone Fan Club (West Midlands Branch); she smoked like a trouper; she read out the obituaries in the local paper in the staffroom during her breaks; and she was a bit of a gossip.

Of course, Mrs Tardebigge's interests stretched beyond gossip and Pat Boone. She revealed in 1987 that she'd written to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher protesting about the right to buy council houses in the early 1980s. That was before she'd bought hers, of course.

A great example of Smethurst-era social comedy, and very true to the times.

Mrs Tardebigge tended to get up posh Mr Darby's nose, and their feud over smoking in the motel staffroom reached epic proportions.

Her husband Ron's health became a concern (very nasty, that hernia), but Mrs T wasn't really about drama.

Her main purpose as a character was to amuse.

She thought that thrusting yuppie dude Daniel Freeman was divine - and was not shy about letting him know the fact.

She said that the motel had been a "laughing stock" in the village back in the days of high drama.

She was thrilled when she found fifty pee up the hoover nozzle. It was, of course, "finders, keepers".

She nearly got the sack for ham pilfering.

And she once imitated Jill Chance to perfection. 

The first appearances of Mrs Tardebigge coincided with what I thought was a rather sudden closure to the story-line about Nicola Freeman and her long-lost daughter, Tracey Hobbs.

On rewatching the episodes, I could almost feel Philip Bowman bowing out and William Smethurst taking the reigns.


Love ya, MrsT!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 21: Glenda Brownlow/Banks

Happiness for Glenda and Kath as the news arrives that Glenda can begin her IVF treatment.

Glenda Brownlow, played by Lynette McMorrough, arrived at the Crossroads Motel in 1976 and was a bit of a wild child until the early 1980s. Waitress Glenda ran off to London in 1976, and got raped by a lorry driver. This was a powerful story-line for early evening Crossroads, and quite powerfully depicted - with poor Glenda being discovered unconscious by the side of the road.

It was revealed that Glenda's home life hadn't been happy - she'd arrived in King's Oak to escape her parents up north.

Glenda finally began to settle down when she met painter and decorator Kevin Banks in 1980. Her parents, Kath and Arthur, had moved to King's Oak in late 1979 and, although initially unhappy at the prospect, it seemed that Glenda was about to find happiness with the man of her dreams, and that all rifts with her parents had been healed.

Enter Glenda's wicked cousin Iris Scott, who burst onto the scene in 1980 with all the drama of a force ten gale, and wasted no time in bedding Kevin.

Poor old Glen!

But, despite Evil Iris, love found a way, and Glenda and Kevin were married in 1981.

Glenda was increasingly unhappy about her inability to have children - a result of her being raped back in 1976. In 1982, she latched on to the idea of having a test tube baby. This was a new and startling concept at the time, expensive and likely to arouse fear and suspicion amongst some people. Kath, Glenda's mother, thought it highly unnatural, but Glenda's grumpy dad Arthur backed the idea. Kevin was initially reluctant, and Glenda had to leave and move to London, staying with her Auntie Rose and the aforementioned Evil Iris (now a lot less evil, thankfully), before Kevin capitulated.

Then, grumpy old Arthur was killed in a hit-and-run accident, turning life in the Brownlow/Banks household upside down. But finally, in early 1983, Glenda's IVF treatment began and she was lucky first time.

She and Kev soon had a baby daughter, Katy-Louise, and all seemed set fair, until Percy Dobson, Kev's business partner, died suddenly. The business was in dire financial straits and Glenda and Kevin lost everything.

The couple emigrated to Canada in 1985. Things were going well, Glenda reported when she flew back for Kath's wedding to Stephen Fellowes later that year.

After that, we never saw Glenda in King's Oak again.

A terrific character, powered by that magical everyday quality some Crossroads performers managed to bring to their roles. Glenda was utterly believable. She talked about that last minute coach party arriving at the motel restaurant from Stratford-On-Avon, her aching feet - and Mr  Paul's moods. She wondered if there was enough hot water for a bath when she got home. She liked to watch telly. Like most Crossroads characters, she lacked the glittering repartee of the Coronation Street characters (fabulous, but often rather too witty to be real) and had I met Lynette McMorrough at a bus stop, it would have been hard not to say: 'Oh, hello, Glen! How's things? Mr Paul still being a pain?' or something similar.

Great natural acting from Lynette McMorrough. Glenda, particularly during the era of her marriage to Kevin (1981-1985), was one of my top favourite Crossroads characters, and now ranks as one of my all-time favourites.

Now, put the kettle on, Mum, I'm dyin' for a cup of tea. Ooh, you should've 'eard Mr Paul today! Oh, and Mrs Chance has been on  to the laundry about them table napkins...