Thursday, 15 February 2018

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters - 8: Kath Brownlow/Fellowes

If anybody encapsulated the qualities of the ideal English working class mother in Crossroads, it was Pamela Vezey as Kath Brownlow.

The character of Kath had briefly appeared some years before in the King's Oak saga, but was played by actress Hilary Martin. It's impossible to judge Ms Martin's interpretation of Mrs Brownlow because the episodes have been wiped, but her tenure was temporary - and very brief - and needn't concern us here.

The Brownlows, Kath and Arthur, moved to King's Oak in late 1979 - much to the chagrin of their motel waitress daughter Glenda, who thought they might rather cramp her carefree 'living away from home' lifestyle.

Kath was a nice, caring, homely wife and mother, who soon got a part time job at the motel. In 1982, she accepted the post of motel housekeeper - which meant a more demanding role with more hours. Arthur raised no objections, but he made it plain that Kath's role as mother and housewife meant that she had already amounted to something in his eyes - in fact, if that role didn't acquaint with amounting to something, he didn't know what did! Arthur had a very high and genuine regard for traditional family roles. But he accepted Kath's desire to stretch her wings.

Kath coped with all sorts of disasters and family upsets. She was perhaps a little too kind hearted at times, but we won't hold that against her.

And what a family she had! There was her manipulative, scheming niece Iris Scott (who turned out not to be all bad), her dreadful, tarty sister Rose (who turned out not to be all bad too), grumpy husband Arthur, who briefly exhibited disturbing racist tendencies, headstrong daughter Glenda, who decided to have a test tube baby (much to Kath's initial horror), steady son Ron, who fell in love with his cousin Iris, and dependable son-in-law Kevin Banks, who fell in love with the Hunters' housekeeper.

Kath coped with it all. At the motel, she discovered Shughie McFee, in the throes of his nervous breakdown, wrecking the kitchen in 1980 - and coped with that too. She was a great pal to lonely Doris Luke. She had a somewhat prickly relationship with Mr Paul Ross at times, but then so did most people. She enjoyed a bit of  a gossip, but it was not a compulsion with her, and staff and management at the motel held her in high regard.

Kath was devastated when Arthur died in a hit-and-run road accident in 1982. She was briefly distracted by the arrival of his sponging cousin Walter 'Uncle Wally' Soper, and liked him because he provided a living link to the old days. But once Wally departed she was faced with the enormity of the loss of Arthur - and had a nervous breakdown.

Glenda's pregnancy helped to pull her through. Having got over her doubts about the 'unnatural' process of in vitro fertilisation, she eagerly awaited the birth of her first grandchild.

Kath was romantically involved with salesman John Latchford for a time. Glenda disliked him - and was jealous of the attention her mother lavished on him. She later made amends, but Kath and John were not to be.

A lonely future faced Kath in 1985 when Glenda, Kevin, and baby Katie Louise emigrated to Canada. Still, she had her work at the motel and great pal Marian Owen, Kevin's aunt.

Then she got splashed by a car passing through a puddle, and met Stephen Fellowes. Posh teacher Stephen had once-upon-a-time been Kevin's housemaster at school, and quickly became close to Kath.

It was a whirlwind romance. They met in 1985 and married in 1985.

Kath and Stephen later bought a house in a posh new development that was just being completed in King's Oak called Cavalier Spinney (hilariously 'up with the times'!).

Unfortunately, Stephen was a bit of a wally and his wally-dom rubbed off on poor old Kath. Not that it really mattered. She fussed over her Capodimonte at Cavalier Spinney, even called Benny 'poppet' on one occasion, but was still our lovable old Kath really.

All dreams of a happy future at The Spinney quickly evaporated when Stephen landed himself a senior position at a draughty old boarding school up north in 1987. Kath upped sticks and went with him.

We wished her a happy future. But with Stephen we felt that such a thing would mean a big effort on Kath's part...

Pamela Vezey made Kath real. I felt she was the mother I would really have liked to have had. A splendid performance and, like all the best soap performances, it didn't seem like a performance at all.

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