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Jo Richardson talks about playing the troubled Mrs Witton

While TV's most notorious gossip and tattle-tale, the immortal Amy Turtle, is out of the Crossroads story at the moment, regular viewers of life at the Motel will know that in her absence she's left an able deputy.  Mrs Witton, like Amy, would never think of herself as a malicious troublemaker, but there's no denying that sometimes her efforts to 'help out' other people's affairs, have caused more harm than good.

Jo Richardson, who's been playing Mrs Witton for the past eight years, reckons that her busybody personality comes from her being such a lonely woman.  "She's basically very lonely, I think.  She was married at one time but then her husband left her and she didn't have any children so she just became more and more lonely.  She tried to get friends through these correspondence advertisements, but that didn't work.  Then there was a brief flirtation with a travelling salesman who stayed at the Motel, but it was all too soon after her husband had left.  I hope she's got over all that by now, but there's still the loneliness.
Mrs Witton, as Crossroads fans will recall, wasn't actually employed at the Motel when she first arrived in the series.  One of the villagers of King's Oak, she wasn't even taken under the 'Crossroads Motel' wing until four years ago.  Since then she's worked in a general capacity.  "She puts in time on the reception, she does bar work, the kitchen ... you name it, she does it.  The point is," stresses Jo Richardson, "that she's very loyal to Meg and her family.  She thinks the world of them and doesn't mind how hard she has to work.  Though, in all fairness, I think that some of that comes from her hating the idea of going home to an empty house."  
With all her problems, Mrs Witton has become one of Crossroads'  most sympathetic characters for the millions of viewers.  Like it or not, the world is filled with many people whose own lives are tragically similar to hers.  Jo Richardson is acutely aware that Mrs Witton's plight is all too relevant to the real-life situations of all too many people.  "We get many letters from people who tell us that they are in just the same position as she is and thank us for highlighting the special problems that single women of her age have to face.  We did have this storyline that involved her trying to get a paying guest in to her house to relieve the misery, but she hasn't had much luck there either.  A lot of people wrote in about that."
Lonely or not, Mrs Witton's gossipy side has to be one of her less sympathetic features.  And the viewers are not slow to point this out to Jo Richardson.  "We do get a lot of, well not really abuse, but there are lots of people who write in saying "how can you do this or how could you do that".  Of course, as far as I'm concerned, this is very good.  It means that the character is coming over as it should do."    

Only The Lonely ... continued