Jo Richardson, whose tragic death in the Seychelles was reported last month, was an actress skilled in the portrayal
of all the artifices a dramatist can design. At home on the live stage, the radio and in front of film and television
cameras, she was intimately connected with some form of acting ever since her teenage years with the Ballet Rambert.
And for the millions of loyal viewers who follow the twelve-year saga of Crossroads Jo found her most enduring
role as Mrs Witton. For eight years Jo played the gossipy, bitchy, but essentially good-hearted waitress. For
four years she was one of the King's Oak locals; then she joined the Motel staff as a worthy foil and sometime ally for Amy
Turtle. Finally, in the months before her death, Mrs Witton had taken over as Queen of the Crossroads grapevine.
But if Jo Richardson created an image as the lonely gossip of the Crossroads kitchen, and there were
plenty of fans more than willing to tell her just how effective that role had become, her offstage life was quite the opposite.
For a while Jo had been a teacher, and armed with a university degree in psychology, she made it her business to help the
many lonely, confused and unfortunate people who made their way to a marriage guidance clinic at which she was a volunteer
To Jo Richardson, people - happy or sad, rich or poor, enthusiastic or critical - were the very lifeblood of her existence.
For her, the millions of Crossroads fans were vitally important. "If it wasn't for the public, I wouldn't be
here. Even if you only please people half the time. It's great when you get letters from old people and lonely
people and they say how marvellous it is ... That's what it's all about."
Jo Richardson, Mrs Witton for so many millions of these same people, is dead. Life, once again, has played the
sort of trick we'd all prefer to see kept strictly on the other side of the screen. And in her death, Jo has bereaved
not only her children, her family and her friends, but those millions of loyal Crossroads fans as well.
Surely, she will live on in so many memories.