Varieties of Vera

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From hostess to hairdresser, Zeph Gladstone talks about her continuing role as Crossroads' Vera Downend

In the non-stop up and down world of the Crossroads Motel, there's rarely a moment when one character or another is having to face some of life's ever-present problems.  And when you look around to find out who's in trouble this time, there's more than an outside chance that down in the dunps yet again, you'll find Vera Downend, manager of the Motel's hairdressing salon.

Zeph Gladstone, who has been bringing Vera to the screens ever since she was first introduced to the Crossroads family, not surprisingly has her own opinions on poor Vera.  "The scriptwriters have made her into a not particularly happy figure.  But I do rather feel that a woman in her middle thirties who runs her own business would be a little more aware of what was going on.  But they always want to make her rather sad."
Of course, Vera hasn't always been running the Crossroads Motel salon.  When she arrived on the scene for the first time almost five and a half years ago, Vera wasn't half so settled.  Explains Zeph,  "Vera originally came into the programme for just a couple of weeks.  At that time she was just a rather tatty nightclub hostess.  She was living in some digs next door to Diane Parker, who had just had her illegitimate baby.  She was just this character who slopped around in her dressing gown and slippers, very untidy."
Untidy, sloppy and tatty the early Vera may have been, but that didn't mean that the Crossroads viewers didn't warm to this latest addition to the programme.  The letters flooded in and everyone concerned with the show realised that Vera Downend was obviously here to stay.  In the last five and a half years, Zeph Gladstone has only been away for a couple of three-month spells, both to get in some live theatre work.  Other than that, she's always available in the Crossroads hairdressing salon, or behind the reception desk.   
And like all other Crossroads stars Zeph finds that the hectic pace of the series leaves her very little time for doing much else.  "For instance this week I've got a dozen scenes to learn in three days.  That kind of pressure doesn't make it very easy to get involved with other work."  That doesn't mean that Zeph hasn't done the occasional show outside Crossroads.  Those viewers who were wondering where she was earlier this year, might well have caught one of the performances she gave in a recent tour of Agatha Christie's immortal 'Mousetrap'.  "I was very lucky because I was wanting to do some theatre again and I was offered this tour.  When they said I could go ahead with it it was really lovely, a lovely change.  And a challenge too."

Varieties of Vera ... continued