To its thousands of admiring fans there does not seem a time when Crossroads
did not exist, it has been part of their lives for so long. But in fact the first episode of Crossroads took
place in November 1964, several years after the idea of a daily serial had been put to Sir Lew Grade.
Lancashire already had its Coronation Street and viewers could see life in a hospital in
Emergency Ward 10. Now it was felt that the time had come to give the Midlands their own show, set in the Midlands
area itself. But what was the Midlands? It covered Swindon and Stoke and the famous Black Country, but it also
extended south to Oxford, covered the borders of Anglia as well as parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Therefore a broader storyline than just the Midlands was needed to appeal
to a wider viewing audience. Hazel Adair and Peter Ling had suggested a serial called The Midland Road, centred
on a widow named Meg Richardson and her two children who had turned their family home into a motel.
Although the storyline appealed to everyone, the title for the serial received a lukewarm reception,
and so it was decided to run a competition in a Midlands newspaper asking for alternative suggestions. But none of the
titles won official approval, and the prize offered in the competition was given to charity. Reg Watson then put forward
several title suggestions himself and Crossroads was finally chosen as the most popular.
Everyone was sworn to secrecy until 'the show got on the road' and the leading roles were cast. Noele Gordon, who
had been hostessing Lunch Box, was the ideal choice for Meg; she was already overwhelmingly popular in the Midlands
and any show including Noele was sure of an excellent reception.
Although Noele now had a different role to play, Meg Richardon soon became
her alter ego, and she became the centre and heart around whom the rest of the cast revolved ... indeed, in time they actually
began to call her affectionately 'The Godmother'.
But Meg needed a family, and Crossroads needed a staff, and so the hunt was on for a cast which would
work happily together.
Some of the behind-the-scenes searches had a true life plot that would have seemed 'far-fetched' in
a fictional story. Jane Rossington, who came for an audition as Meg's daughter, arrived somewhat distraught because
her train was late, but still managed to talk her way into the coveted part.
Filling the part of Sandy, Meg's son, was much more difficult. Teenagers up and down the country
were interviewed but somehow that vital something was missing. Time was running out when one day a young boy walked
into a script conference saying that a cleaner had sent him up the stairs to audition for the part of Sandy! He had
just happened to be passing by in his lunch break although he was at drama school. He read the part of Sandy in a voice
which can only be described as 'uniquely croaky' and that's how Roger Tonge, a Birmingham student, became Meg's son.
Gradually all the parts needed for the first episodes were filled, and among the cast when Meg offically
opened Crossroads motel were her sister and brother in law, Kitty and Dick Jarvis, played by Beryl Johnstone and
Brian Kent, the Rev Guy Atkins, played by veteran actor Arthur Ridley, Peggy Aitchison as Mrs Blundell the housekeeper, and
Raymond Mason as George Petersham. Later episodes featured Sue Nicholls as Marilyn Gates, the blonde waitress at Crossroads,
who later married the new vicar, Peter Hope, played by Neville Hughes.
Crossroads was filling with staff and customers, whose lives were to become of interest to
thousands of viewers as the episodes went on ... Meg's motel had opened, and its fans hope that it will never close!