Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 18: Tommy "Bomber" Lancaster

Ah, what might have been if Crossroads King's Oak had become King's Oak and Tommy "Bomber" Lancaster's reign as hotel owner had continued!

But it was not to be.

I thoroughly enjoyed Terence Rigby's portrayal of Mr Lancaster.

Bomber was the owner of the Red Ox chain of eateries, a rich, self-made Brummie, living at posh Lady Byron Lodge.

And he was a pal of former motel char Amy Turtle.

Seeing her again rather freaked poor old Jill Chance out.

Bomber bought Crossroads in early 1987, and set about stamping his mark on the place. Of course, this was the late 1980s, so it had to have a theme - Bomber tied it into the history of King's Oak and its connections to the English Civil War, naming the bar "The Merry Monarch" (complete with flame stitched seating), and wondering if he could get away with telling guests that the big oak tree out the back by the bins was the one King Charles had (reputedly) hidden in.

Bomber had a wife - Mary - and two daughters, Debbie (called by some at Crossroads "Debbie Dreadful") and  Lisa. Debbie was down-to-earth, like her father, Lisa, the complete opposite - a globe trotting good time girl, mixing happily with the yuppie set.

Bomber was a great student of human nature. He was aware that Adam Chance was sneering at him and that Jill was looking down at her nose at him, but he sorted them both out. When Adam ended up drinking the naff plonk he had bought for Bomber's dinner party, it was no more than he deserved. 

Bomber also spotted that Barry the barman was fiddling the till.

Mary Lancaster died in 1987, leaving Bomber devastated.

But he persevered.

He decided to change the name of the dear old motel. Crossroads Motel? That was so old hat, so down market - so 1960s. King's Oak Country Hotel was surely more like it...

Jill Chance was initially against it, but she was jollied along by John Maddingham, Bomber's "ideas man". 

Bomber also decided that Charlie Mycroft added a touch of class to the place, and took him on to the permanent staff. 

Christmas 1987 found Bomber coping with his grief as he faced his first festive season without his beloved wife, and then the bombshell news that his steady, down-to-earth daughter Debbie was pregnant, with no father on the scene.

At first, he was furious - and thought that he had failed as a father. But after Lisa intervened, Bomber held his hands up and told Debbie that he wanted her to stay at Lady Byron Lodge, and that he would welcome and love his grandchild.

In 1988, Bomber sold the newly-renamed King's Oak Country Hotel.

"And that's an end to it," he said.

I thought it was a great shame because I liked the Lancasters and I thought there were endless possibilities with Tommy at the helm at the hotel. There were even rumours that Nicola Freeman was to have returned permanently if the show had continued, as a possible chalk and cheese romantic interest.

The Lancasters had great potential - gruff old Tommy, with his head for business and knowledge of what made people tick, and his beautifully contrasting daughters - shaggy permed yuppie puppy Lisa and Brummie sounding Debbie, who shared her dad's "from-the-ground-up" approach to business, if not his knowledge of humour nature. "Deadly Dave", father of Debbie's sprog, safely back in Spalding with his wife and kiddies, would vouch for that. Debbie had been sure he was a good bloke.

Tragically lost potential, but still worthy of a place in our top twenty...

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