Auntie Doris’s All Things Must Pass #5: The Crossroads Motel

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When Harold Wilson was the prime minister, his wife Mary used to love Crossroads. I’m not surprised. It was a ruddy good programme. Yes it was a soap opera. But it wasn’t the same as Coronation Street, which was a refuge for outdated music hall acts half the time. Crossroads was a refuge for actors who weren’t particularly good at acting, but showed willing. It was magical though. And that Meg Richardson was a proper heroine, how she held it all together, by trying harder to act than all the other characters put together, and running the ruddy motel into the bargain.
What probably attracted Mrs Wilson to the programme though was its vision of a politically correct world, long before even the labour party had even dreamed up the idea of political correctness. Back in the sixties, I think that they would have called it Political Correctitude actually, but that’s beside the point.
For starters Meg’s son Sandy was in a wheelchair, at a time when no one else on the television was allowed to be in a wheelchair. Alright the Americans had had Raymond Bear in a wheelchair in “A Man Called Ironsides” for about five years, but Ironsides’s wheelchair was just one of them gimmicks that separated him from the other cops who were either bald, cowboys or wore dirty raincoats. Sandy was properly in a wheelchair because he had septic legs or something. I can’t remember exactly, but I remember Meg telling Ruth Fraser about it all once. Or maybe it was a car crash. Even if it was, I still think that his legs went septic, due to complications.
Not only did they have a physically disabled Character, they had a mentally challenged one as well. Barmy Benny, who fancied Miss Dianne and wore a woolly hat. People still talk about wearing Benny hats, and throwing a Benny when someone has a tantrum to this day. And the British army even got into trouble off their officers in the Falkands war by calling all the islanders “Bennies”. Apparently, even after they were told to stop calling them Bennies, the islanders STILL wore them hats and threw wobblers, so the soldiers called them “stills.”
People generally liked having Benny around though, and he perhaps remains the most popular character with significant mental development issues ever to have been on the television, with the possible exception of Jeremy Clarkson.
They also had black and Asian characters and wrote storylines about serious issues of the day, even though the cast couldn’t really act them out properly.
And to top that, Crossroads even had Norah Batty in it, looking after the Laundry, before she moved to Holmfirth and became the pin up of “Last of the Summer Wine,
She didn’t actually leave the series until after it came back in the 2000s. She said there was too many sex stories in it for her liking. Good for her. There are too many sex stories on everything in the 2000s.
It was never as good as it was in the golden age of Crossroads before Meg got the sack and burned to death in a fire in 1981. It was never the same after that. Like Emmerdale ruddy Farm was never the same after Mollie Sugden left the show in 1995 to concentrate on her pussy. Mollie And Meg: Two brilliant women who the soaps would never be the same without. But there you go… All things must pass.
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