Thursday, 21 April 2016

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 17: Marilyn Gates

Carlos puts the world to rights whilst Marilyn Gates tries to lather up some enthusiasm for the washing up in the motel kitchens back in the mid-1960s.

Lovely, squawky Brummie waitress Marilyn Gates, played by Sue Nicholls, was a fixture at the motel in the mid-to-late 1960s. Village girl Marilyn was apt to get into scrapes and often bemoaned the romantic complications in her life.

Sue Nicholls had auditioned for the part of Meg's daughter Jill, complete with Brummie accent. Can you imagine how posh Meg would have coped with such a daughter? It might have been fun, but with Jane Rossington getting the part of Jill and Sue the part of Marilyn, we had the best of both worlds.

Marilyn was popular at the motel - a good friend to Diane, Carlos and Josefina.

Marilyn squeezed a lot of living into her youthful years in King's Oak. She became a beauty queen and even tried her hand at singing  - a ballad called Where Will You Be? which was released as a record in real life. Marilyn also accompanied Meg and other staff to Tunisia after a wartime bomb blew up the Crossroads kitchens.

Back in England, Marilyn fell in love with the dishy new King's Oak vicar Peter Hope, but feared she wasn't good enough for him. His mother, Tish, thought otherwise, and finally Marilyn and Peter were married.

And then things went a bit odd.

Sue Nicholls left the serial, and her character was recast. Following the template laid down by early Coronation Street, recasting in English soaps wasn't very common back then, but Crossroads bravely recast Marilyn, completely altering the character in the process.

Nadine Hanwell, the new Marilyn, was dark haired whilst Sue Nicholls was fair. Ms Hanwell's Marilyn spoke very good middle class English, while Sue's Marilyn's accent had been of the glorious Brummie variety. Ms Hanwell's portrayal of Marilyn was perfectly all right, she was obviously a highly competent actress, but her Marilyn was quite wrong after Sue's version.

The new Marilyn was the perfect English country village vicar's wife. The old one strove to be that, but she was dead common (like me) and given to comic storylines.

What were the Crossroads production team thinking of?

We adapted to the new Marilyn and grew to like her.

But we'll always remember Sue's Marilyn with greater affection.

What a shame so few episodes featuring her exist today!

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