Zeph's career in Crossroads was nothing like her first look at the acting profession. She had been working
for some thirteen years already when she was summoned to the Salon. Starting off in the traditional manner of drama
school, she then went the usual rounds of provincial repertory companies. "I went to Central, then about five years
rep. I was in Colchester, Rye, Brighton, Harrogate, York ... all over the place. Then I came back to London to
try for small parts." She worked in commercials and small acting roles. Regular fans of 'Dixon of Dock Green'
will remember her as WPC Liz Harris. That part lasted six months and then it ended when "I went off and got married
to one of the coppers."
Zeph Gladstone can also be seen occasionally when TV re-runs her film 'The Oblong Box', a gore-filled horror story which
starred Vincent Price. "Actually they did two versions of that one. One was for England, and the other was for
Sweden." In the way of these things, the Swedish 'Oblong Box' hasn't been seen outside the permissive country.
Nevertheless Crossroads fans will be able to see Zeph in a suitably dramatic role in the homegrown film.
Films, occasional commercials, theatre and TV apart, Zeph's main interests these days obviously lie in her role as Vera
Downend. "I must admit that I do like the live stage best. After all once you've done the rehearsals and learnt
that part, you just walk into the theatre at certain times and trot it out. And I do like the feel of a live audience
Nevertheless, Vera is still the role that counts. And Zeph has contributed a good deal to the way the 'tatty hostess'
has developed into the character millions of fans know today. "I was very lucky in that they let me help create the
character. Of course they did change her, but I do feel to a great extent that I did create Vera and because of this
I try very hard to hang on to her as she is. You see, with different directors and different writers it's all too easy
to get changed about all the time."
Still, in five years and more of her life at the Motel, Vera Downend has obviously gone through a number of changes.
Perhaps the only constant has been her continual problems. Somehow, like so many other of the Crossroads 'regulars',
life doesn't seem to have dealt Vera the greatest of hands. "I suppose," says Zeph, "that the producers and the scriptwriters
feel that a sad person is someone we can all identify with much more than someone who's happy all the time. And after
all, if Vera found everything worked out all the time, there'd be nothing for her to do! Lots of happy people and happy
relationships aren't going to make for much of a story, are they?"