The Road to Crossroads

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Real People Magazine Article

I was the first actress in the world to be seen on colour television, long before any of us had colour sets in our homes.  That was in 1938 when John Logie Baird was carrying out his pioneering experiments at Crystal Palace and I was a young actress in rep at nearby Penge.  He used to send his Rolls Royce to collect me at the stage door and I would sit in front of his camera wearing brightly coloured hats and scarves.
I already knew something about television for I had made my debut on it a year earlier when the BBC had shown a Eugene O'Neill play, Ah, Wilderness! in which I had the part of a maid.  The studio lights were so hot that our make-up ran and I dropped a tray I picked up when it burned my fingers.  I never imagined then that so much of my life was to be spent in television studios.
It was my mother who made me an actress.  She would have liked to have been one herself, but was too shy, so she was determined to put me on the stage and sent me to a dancing school in London's East Ham, where we lived, when I was only two.
At 15 I went to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and at 18 I won a part in the wartime stage musical Black Velvet.  A succession of other musicals followed ... Let's Face It, The Lisbon Story, Big Ben and in 1947 my biggest break, Brigadoon.  This was set in a Scottish village and I played the village tart.  "A star is born" they said of me, and the show ran nearly 1,000 performances.
But not a lot happened afterwards until Lew Grade, now Lord Grade, who was then my agent, told me that commercial television was going to come to Britain and he aimed to be part of it.  If I would like to learn about it, he and his associates would send me to America for a year to study commercial television there, and I went and enrolled at New York University, which had a good TV school.
I returned to a staff  job in Lew's company, ATV, and I have been on its staff ever since - until now.
When it was opened ITV in the Midlands in February 1956, I was given a chat show, Tea with Noele Gordon, which was followed by Lunch Box which was a chat show with light entertainment.
It ran for eight years - until the producer, an Australian named Reg Watson, developed a wild ambition to produce television's first daily half-hour serial.  Most people said it couldn't be done.  I said it couldn't be done, but they gave me the leading part in it.  I became Meg of Crossroads.