Thursday, 19 May 2016

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters: 15 - Shughie McFee

Shughie McFee, magnificently played by Angus Lennie, was a chef at the Crossroads Motel from the mid 1970s until around 1984/85 - although he was invisible for several years at the end!

Proud Scotsman Shughie drew a squawk of disgust from Amy Turtle when she saw what was going into the haggis he was preparing. Sadly, Scot though he was, he couldn't really play the bagpipes, although he did once try to hoodwink everybody into thinking he could.

In the best traditions of a Crossroads chef Shughie, once called 'Shughie McCradock' by waitress Diane Parker, was highly temperamental. He could puff himself up and bluster with the best of them. But underneath it all, Shughie was actually quite a sad and lonely little man. And there was a slight whiff of the Walter Mittys about him. Remember his wonderful flat, which turned out to be anything but?

Romance eluded Shughie although he tried (remember Avis Tennyson?), but Doris Luke did turn his shirt collars for him.

So that was nice.

Shughie worked with Bernard Booth for part of his tenure in the motel kitchens, and called him 'Bern-ard'. Why? I think Shughie was trying to sound posh. But, whatever the reason, it was very funny.

The highly strung chef had a nervous breakdown in late 1980, putting spiders in a dessert served to a motel guest, hiding the store cupboard keys in the food mixer, and then attempting to wreck the motel kitchen. He was caught in the act by Kath Brownlow. Shughie was consumed by guilt as he hadn't been there when his mother had died, and this had triggered his strange behaviour. Mrs McFee had had a brief but unhappy stay at the motel just before her death and had tried to persuade Shughie to return to Scotland, as she was unwell. Shughie suspected her of malingering, a doctor's examination suggested only indigestion, but she'd died just after returning home.

recovered from his breakdown and was there in 1981 when the staff drank a toast in reception to the newlywed royals, Charles and Diana.

And he had a big fall-out with Diane Hunter, the majority share-holder's daughter-in-law, who was briefly left in charge of the kitchen, which nearly resulted in his departure. But that was soon patched-up.

1981 did see Shughie's last on-screen appearance, although he continued to work at the motel for several years after.

The reason for Shughie's disappearance from our screens seems to lay with the production team, who decided not to build a new kitchen set after the motel fire in the November of 1981.

No kitchen scenes. No Shughie.

But although he was off-screen, Shughie was often mentioned and indeed even had a couple of storylines, bizarre though that may seem! Remember Kath Brownlow packing him off to the dentist? Mr Paul telling Jill he wanted rid of him and a new chef (preferably Swiss) for the kitchens? I was quite worried about that! 'Shughie can't leave!' I muttered. I was mightily relieved when Mr Paul revealed that he'd only been teasing.

And yet, at the time, we hadn't laid eyes on Shughie for at least two years!

I loved Shughie. Sadly, Angus Lennie is no longer with us, but I still treasure a lovely letter and some photos I had from him many years ago. 

And Shughie is my all-time favourite Crossroads chef.

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