Extracts from Sue Lloyd's book 1998
The first time I was offered a role in Crossroads, I must admit my initial reaction was to be a bit sniffy about it.
The soap was renowned for its wobbly scenery, bizarre sory lines and regular slaughtering by the critics. Why would
I, just back from filming The Pink Panther with Peter Sellers in the South of France, and about to embark on the comedy The
Upchat Line with John Alderton, want to get involved in a project like that? Besides, I was too busy.
'If they want you,' advised my agent, 'they'll come back.'
He was right. About a year later they called again. They were looking for an actress to play a slightly mysterious,
classy lady named Barbara Brady. She was to arrive at the Crossroads Motel, apparently to take a post as a sort of upmarket housekeeper,
but in reality she was an author researching material for a new book.
It sounded an intriguing part, yet Crossorads' reputation still put me off a little. However, it was the eighties
and this was the era of the glamour-soaps. Everyone was talking about them - suddenly soaps were cool. Crossroads
was regularly top of the ratings, and pulling in viewing figures of 15 million plus. In the face of such popularity,
it seemed incredibly pompus to suggest that I wouldn't take part.
'Okay,' I told Jack, 'I'll give it a try.'
It was a decision which was to change my life. I probably reached more people in that simple, much vilified series
than I ever did in some of the highly acclaimed films in which I'd appeared. Suddenly I couldn't walk down the street
without being recognised. Dustmen chased after me for my autograph, cab drivers fell over themselves to offer me lifts,
star-struck shoppers hung on my every word in the supermarket. I had fan mail pouring through my letterbox as never
before and, most important and unlikely of all, I met the love of my life, the man who was to become my husband - my darling
Ronnie Allen - a man who until then everyone thought was gay.
The programme was made at the ATV studios right in the heart of Birmingham and those impenetrable one-way systems.
Many people find Birmingham difficult because of the traffic problems, but I've always had a soft spot for the place.
Having grown up there, it always feels like going home for me.
It had become a second home too for the cast - many of whom had been Crossroads regulars for years. Over that
time, naturally, they'd fallen into long established routines, and one of these involved the Green Room. Here the acknowledged
queen of Crossroads, Noele Gordon, on screen since day one, sat in splendour in a comfortable chair against the wall.
Next to her was placed Ronald Allen, her right-hand man and the show's acknowledged heart-throb. Woe betide anyone who
ignorantly took the wrong seat when Noele was around.
I don't think I've ever seen a more good looking man than Ronnie. Few people could see him for the first time without
doing a double-take. His face was simply beautiful, and that's rare in a man. He had strong, regular features,
good bone structure, blue eyes and dark hair. He was like an early Clint Eastwood or Henry Fonda. In fact, it
was fortunate that he had a lot of deeply etched smile lines around his eyes, or his face would have been too perfect.
As it was, he was wonderfully handsome, but human too.
I appreciated his appearance from an artistic point of view, but romance was the last thing on my mind. I'd been
living with film producer Richard Du Vivier for the last six years and, besides, I'd heard Ronnie was gay. He'd been
living with his partner Brian for twenty-seven years, ever since they were students at RADA. The relationship had only
ended two years before, when Brian died tragically of a brain tumour which had spread from the lung. Ronnie helped nurse
him to the end.