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!