That experience writing the twice weekly dramatisation of life on a glossy magazine set Peter Ling on the route to his
next assignment, the one which still forms the centrepiece of his writing today. "Whilst that was still going on Lew
Grade rang us up and said would we like to come along and talk about a new daily series for ITV? So we went along ..."
At first Grade wanted his writing team to pick up on an idea that he had already had worked out for his company.
Ling and Adair were unimpressed. Their talents, surely, were worthy of something better than a mere rewrite job.
Said Sir Lew, "Come back with something better!" And off they went.
"Our original idea wasn't actually called Crossroads, though it was certainly about a motel. It was called
'The Midland Road'. But the basic characters and idea were the same and Lew Grade just sat there chewing on his cigar
and he finally said "Okay, we'll do this one," and that's really how it started." It was the summer of 1964, and
the first edition of Crossroads hit the screens that November. The series, and Peter Ling, never looked back.
Today, nearly a dozen years since that first, hesitant programme, Peter Ling is still intimately concerned with his brainchild.
Hazel Adair has left, to produce films, but Ling remains the story writer whose imagination fuels the talents of four scriptwriters
whose names appear on the four-times-a-week Crossroads credits. "I'm the story writer, but at any time I do
about a quarter of the scripting as well, so I'm pretty closely in." At the fortnightly Tuesday meetings, it is Ling's
breakdown of the forthcoming plot lines that inspires the other writers to their next burst of Crossroads creativity.
"What I do is really a breakdown of the episode, which is like a short story with every scene laid out, and then the others
read it, and criticise it and then go away and dialogue it."
Ling is well aware that his serial has often been found wanting in the eyes of the professional TV critics, but he remains
undaunted in the face of their sales. He isn't ashamed to call his product a 'soap opera', as is the other main scripting
job he works on, radio's 'Waggoners Walk', but he also points out that "this is my kind of television. I don't personally
denigrate it because I think it's marvellous. I mean you couldn't do something if you hated it. If I have any
talent I think it is as a story teller and what I love about the serial form is that one is in a position of saying "Guess
what's going to happen next" and keeping people endlessly on the edge of their seats."