Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 9: Barbara Brady/Hunter

Barbara Brady (Hunter from 1980), played by Sue Lloyd, was one of the classiest, loveliest and most compassionate Crossroads characters it was ever our good fortune to see on-screen. Novelist Barbara arrived in King's Oak in 1979 as housekeeper to American psychiatrist Lloyd Munroe. And we were soon suspicious of her. Well, she was a complete unknown in the neighbourhood, and she kept asking Lloyd odd questions... was she out to poison him or something?

We did wonder.

But all was happily resolved - Barbara was simply posing as a housekeeper. She was actually a novelist and was researching a new book, undercover. Why? I forget, but it all made sense at the time.

Barbara wrote novels under the pseudonym of Eleanor Ruskin.

She quickly attracted the attention of two local eligible men - Dr Farnham, of the King's Oak group practice, and David Hunter, of the Crossroads Motel.

In 1980, Barbara became engaged to David but, on the night of their engagement party, he was shot in the motel office by his deranged ex-wife Rosemary.

David survived, and married Barbara a couple of months later.

But plain sailing things weren't.

The couple rented the Old Coach House in the village and began married life, but their tranquility was shattered by the shock news that David was not Chris Hunter's biological father. David's attitudes began to change - he wanted to sell the motel with no regard for Meg, for instance, and Barbara felt alienated from him. And then there was the intervention of Jimmy Corbett - who was romantically interested in Barbara. But don't let's mention him. By late 1981, the couple were planning to separate.

But then the motel burned down.

In the wake of the catastrophe, Barbara and David reunited and their marriage was saved.

Barbara had always been a "people person" - she found herself caught up in the strange saga of Eddie Lee in 1980, a man serving time for a murder committed by a woman he loved. This served as inspiration for an  Eleanor Ruskin novel.

In late 1981, Barbara took on young working class Carole Sands as housekeeper at the Old Coach House. Barbara had a lively social conscience and was painfully aware that Carole did not come from a moneyed background. But Carole caused Barbara much trouble by telling the police about her involvement with the aforementioned Mr Lee. Oh dear.

Barbara marched on through the early-to-mid 1980s, kindly, stylish and beautiful.

When David's old love Kate Hamilton turned up in 1982 in the middle of a crisis, Barbara became jealous and briefly left David. But the rift was soon healed and Barbara did all she could to help Kate.

She was interested in Benny Hawkins's sudden outbreak of ESP and conducted some tests with him, becoming convinced he was very gifted.

She took in poor old tramp Horace Jackman - 'Jacko' - whilst researching material for a new book - and became a concerned and sympathetic listener to the tale of the death of his son - and how 'Jacko' blamed himself for it.

She and David moved out of the coach house and into the motel living accommodation, but although Barbara was on the premises and participated in the running of the business, she was never another Meg. Her work as an author remained important to her.

Her brother Douglas Brady paid a couple of visits to King's Oak and Barbara was dutiful towards him, but he always caused trouble and heartache.

However, things with David were good.

Then, in 1984, the serpent entered paradise.

And David went right off the rails and into the arms of his ex-love Sarah Alexander, who simply walked into the sitting room and within minutes was engaged in a passionate embrace with him.

Sarah became pregnant. And she wanted David as well as the baby.

Barbara was on the point of leaving David when David finally made the decision to stay with her. But the pull of the child was strong as 1985 came in. Sarah remained adamant that David would have no part in its life.

David almost returned to his compulsive gambling habit of years before, but Barbara stuck with him.

hey went for a walk. They talked about their relationship - and Barbara's six years in King's Oak.

And they decided to start afresh elsewhere.

One of Barbara's final acts at Crossroads was just so typical of her: she put in a good word for Benny Hawkins with incoming manager Nicola Freeman.

Barbara and David were greatly missed. But I must confess to thoroughly enjoying what was to follow.

However, Barbara's golden era as Mrs Hunter/Miss Ruskin, motel executive and author, remains etched in my mind as one of the show's many high points.

If only we could have had Nicola Freeman AND the Hunters!

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