The First Noele

At The ‘Crossroads’ Tonight


BRITAIN’S first daily television serial, Crossroads, begins tonight.

The Birmingham made and inspired production is a brave venture by A.T.V, the Midlands weekday programme contractors.

It should do well. It is an achievement to create a new source of soap opera in which characters can get involved in yet more human relationships, and family joys, stresses and strains.

In terms of ITV success, the ultimate test is likely to be whether, in the course of months, it makes sufficient impact to win major network showing. This is the latest arrival in the group that has found favour with stories of hospitals, law courts, newspaper offices and branches of social services.

Crossroads is set in a social group higher than Coronation Street; its level is perhaps closer to the semi-detached attitudes of the old BBC Grove Family – but basic human qualities do not vary according to income groups.

My preview impression is that the Crossroads characters are more credible than those of Compact written by Hazel Adair and Peter Ling, who are also the new serials’ scriptwriters.

There are two major settings in which more human relationships unfold in the serial. First the motel somewhere in the Midlands run by widowed Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon), mother of a teenage daughter and schoolboy son.

Not far away is a general shop owned by her sister Kitty (Beryl Johnstone) and her husband Dick (Brian Kent). Life in the two establishments brings many opportunities for interplay of characters through family, friends, business associates and callers.

The sets are convincing. They reflect the high standard of the design crews at the ATV studios. Here they achieve much in compact form.

Many members of the cast have had stage experience in the city and there is a fair representation of former students at Birmingham Theatre School. Crossroads makes no attempt to give the drama a Birmingham identity in attitudes or speech, or to rival any of the extravagances of Swizzlewick.

It is human and, in the main, well acted. One of the busiest characters is Noele Gordon’s Meg Richardson; Her performance in the early episodes reflects the success of sheer professional ‘know how’ and mastery of moods.

She has the talent to give quite ordinary dialogue conviction and value. She has taken in her stride the transition to acting from the straight-to-camera rules of her days as hostess of Lunchbox and Hi-T.

Episode one is concerned with establishing situations for people and story. It certainly packs in enough lines to serve development needs for weeks to come and there are typical ‘cliffhangers’ to sustain interest in tomorrow’s instalment.

Crossroads starts acceptably, the test of durability has yet to come.

Birmingham Mail, 1964, Item courtesy of REG WATSON.

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