Noele is the star of the show

Crossroads and Critics


NOELE GORDON has a way of saying the word critic as if she is putting it in inverted commas, or as if she ought to clear her throat before carefully enunciating it.

If you look for vitriol consuming the sweetness in her eyes as she speaks you won’t find it, but the final consonant has a sharp click, and the lips fall slightly apart as if in silent comment.

The word viewer never sticks on the tongue. They’re a loyal lot. And according to Noele’s autobiography, they include The Queen and Mrs Mary Wilson. The Prime Minister’s wife has written the foreword to ‘My Life at Crossroads’.

It is my beliefe that what The Queen likes most about the serial – Mrs Wilson too – is the contribution of Meg, the character played by Noele.

Mrs Wilson says women admire Meg because she is the type of woman they would like to be, ‘understanding, sensible, able to cope with any situation.’ Let me say at once I like Meg. I admire Noele Gordon. But If ever a soap opera required a character so strong, so reliable, to give it credibility as well as continuity it’s Crossroads.

What about the rest of the cast? Who else is likable or believable? There’s Meg’s pretty daughter Jill (Jane Rossington), David (Ronald Allen) and that veteran of many a British film adventure John Bentley. There’s Ann George who plays gossip Amy Turtle…

One factor which may make Crossroads unpleasant to the critic’s ear is the use of the cold neutral accent for certain characters so that the result sounds like rootless slovenly speech – or at best, a poor attempt at standard English – instead of the warmth possible with Coronation Street’s ‘Northern’ dialect-based sound.

There is scope for criticising the standard of acting. Some of it hangs on to adequacy by its eyelashes. Those responsible for casting must have looked for personality on a foggy night in a coal mine. The writing capitalises humdrumly on ordinary people exchanging ordinary non-events unhapping to them.

The narrative invention – I flatter – sometimes seems to have come out of a jammed computer, or is the result of a game of consequences that flopped.

But how many fans would Crossroads have if Noele decided to quit her only motel never to return?

Written by Douglas Goodlad

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