The original series was briefly known as Crossroads Kings Oak in the last year of its run.
Despite being critically derided for low production values and far-fetched scripts, Crossroads was popular (fans including Mary Wilson, wife of prime minister Harold Wilson), and maintained high ratings and a loyal audience throughout its original run. However, a number of regional companies (particularly the newer ones) were to drop the series because of its reputation. For example, the newly-formed Thames Television, the franchise for the London area, decided in 1968 to stop showing the series. This was unpopular with viewers with complaints reportedly including one from Harold Wilson; six months later the decision was reversed, but viewers in the Thames region were half a year behind the rest of the country for several years. Another example occurred in the north of England, where some viewers in the east of the Granada region (which was not broadcasting the series) were reported to have redirected their aerials to receive Yorkshire Television, who were.
Further changes were carried out in March 1985, when new filming locations and sets and new characters were introduced. Many storylines were to now revolve around the new motel owner, Nicola Freeman (Gabrielle Drake). More long-term characters, such as David and Barbara Hunter, were axed. The theme tune was also updated, and the opening titles replaced with a longer version. Finally, the show was renamed Crossroads Motel.
In 1986, a new producer, William Smethurst, took over following the sacking of his predecessor, Philip Bowman. Smethurst was brought in by Central Television's new Head of Drama, Ted Childs. Ordered to change to a wittier, more upmarket serial and improve the production values of the show, Smethurst shifted the narrative centre to the nearby village of King's Oak. Yet more long-running characters, such as Diane Hunter and Benny Hawkins, were dropped; as with earlier changes, this was unpopular with fans, who called Central in protest. Smethurst gained the nickname "Butcher Bill" but was unfazed; he had, after all, reversed the fortunes of the BBC radio soap The Archers. Smethurst insisted he only got the flack because his was the name the public knew. The last 18 months of the show saw vast improvements in terms of production values, more outside location work, better direction, wittier funnier scripts and better characterisation. Michelle Buck guided the show through its final few months on air as Series Producer with William Smethurst still on hand to provide guidance as the Executive Producer.
Further changes were planned, the series being renamed Crossroads King's Oak for a time before an intended final change to King's Oak, the name Crossroads being dropped both the name and in-story also the familiar theme tune was replaced by a new theme composed by Max Early and Raf Ravenscroft. New titles were introduced to accompany the new theme which features stills of King's Oak and the new King's Oak Country Hotel. However, this final change was overtaken by the decision in June 1987 by Central's Director of Programmes Andy Allen to axe the series.
Crossroads King's Oak came to an end in 1988. The last, extended, episode was on April 4 (a bank holiday), with the Crossroads hotel becoming The King's Oak Country Hotel and the character of Jill (Jane Rossington) riding off with her lover, John Maddingham (Jeremy Nicholas). Asked what name she would give the hotel she was to be running in her new life, the character remarked, a little sadly, "I always thought Crossroads was an awfully good name".
The decision to kill original character Jill Harvey, who was murdered by Adam Chance three months into the series' revival proved unpopular with fans of the original show. Jane Rossington said she didn't want to commit to another long run but warned Carlton it would be suicidal to kill Jill.
The series went into hiatus from August 2002 to January 2003; when it had yet further changes. The re-modelled series, under producer Yvon Grace, appeared a self-consciously camp parody, with Jane Asher as a new central character, glamorous and bitchy Angel Samson. The series also featured appearances from Kate O'Mara, and people associated with light entertainment, such as Lionel Blair, Les Dennis and Tim Brooke-Taylor.
Grace admitted she was aiming the new Crossroads towards the gay market. But fans were not happy with her ambivalence towards unresolved storylines from the 2001-2002 run. Grace was reported as saying at its press launch: "Who cares if Phil is rotting in jail for a murder he didn't commit? I've changed everything, this is day one. We're not carrying on from where we left off. I was told this was its last chance."
Plans were being considered to bring Adam Chance back in a last attempt to save it; actor Tony Adams said that a down-on-his luck Adam would have been taken under Angel's wing as her personal assistant. But with ratings continuing to decline, the revived series was also axed, the final episode being broadcast in May 2003. The cast were contracted until the end of the year but continued to be paid after the series ended. The cancellation of Crossroads sealed the fate of Central's Lenton Lane studios in Nottingham, which ITV plc have since disposed of.
Other characters during the early years of the show included the chef, Carlos Raphael (Anthony Morton); Constance Merrow (Geraldine Newman); postman Vince Parker (Peter Brookes), and his waitress wife, Diane (Susan Hanson); Brummie waitress Marilyn Gates (Sue Nicholls, but later portrayed by Nadine Hanwell); postmistress Miss Tatum (Elisabeth Croft), and charlady Amy Turtle (Ann George).
Amy Turtle was to be satirised by Julie Walters as Mrs Overall in Victoria Wood's 1985 spoof Acorn Antiques. However, Crossroads fans felt that while Mrs Overall's fluffing of lines and position as char at the antiques shop were based on Amy, the character's mannerisms, voice and clothing were more evocative of Charmian Eyre's character Mavis Hooper (in the series from 1981 to 1985).
Later additions included Ronald Allen as the suave manager David Hunter, Sue Lloyd as his wife Barbara, Angus Lennie as obstreperous Scottish chef Shughie McFee, Zeph Gladstone as hairdresser Vera Downend, Tony Adams as accountant Adam Chance, and Kathy Staff as cleaner Doris Luke. However, the most memorable character proved to be the village-idiot Benny Hawkins (Paul Henry), whose trademark was a woolly hat worn all year. His fans included British troops serving in the Falklands War in 1982, who nicknamed the Falkland Islanders Bennies after the character. Instructed to stop using the name, the troops came up with "Stills" for locals - because they were "still Bennies".)
Over time the series dealt with storylines controversial for their time. Sandy Richardson was injured in a car accident and left confined to a wheelchair, the first paraplegic regular character in British soap opera; by coincidence actor Roger Tonge himself ended up in a wheelchair as the 1970s progressed. The series also saw the first black characters to appear regularly in a British soap; Melanie Harper (played by Cleo Sylvestre) arrived at the motel in 1970 as Meg's adopted daughter (itself a taboo issue). Cleo was given the role by producer Reg Watson after press coverage of racist tensions in the Birmingham area at that time. In 1978, garage mechanic Joe MacDonald (played by Carl Andrews) arrived, as well as an inter-racial summer romance in 1977 between Cockney garage mechanic, Dennis Harper (played by Merlin Ward, but credited as Guy Ward), and motel receptionist Meena Chaudri (Karan David). Another story saw a test tube baby born to Glenda and Kevin Banks (played by Lynette McMorrough and David Moran).
Meg - axed in 1981 - was thought to have died in a fire that gutted the motel but turned up alive aboard the QE2, about to sail to a new life overseas.
Newspapers reported that two endings were planned for Meg - Meg would die in the fire, the other ending would have her disappear for a while and turn up on the QE2. Viewers were surprised to see producers had used both.
Viewers later learned that Meg had died - Noele Gordon died shortly afterwards.
A story in the papers - but never used - would have seen Benny seeing Meg's ghost in the office (footage of Meg was to be mixed into the programme) - Benny was to approach Jill and say, "I've just seen your mum!".
With the revival in 2001,changes were made to character and story. Confusingly, the returning character of Jill Chance had married the now-dead John Maddingham but was calling herself Jill Harvey again, the name by which she'd been known prior to her marriage to Adam Chance in 1983. References were also made to the Russell family taking over a "failing motel", despite Crossroads having become a hotel in the late 1980s; in the final episode of the original series, King's Oak Country Hotel was seen over the entrance doors.
Lack of real links to the past and the killing of Jill a few months into the new run turned many fans away. Despite this, the series did pick up a respectable number of viewers to become one of ITV's highest rated daytime shows. Popular characters in the new Crossroads included new owner Kate Russell (Jane Gurnett), supercilious receptionist Virginia Raven (Sherrie Hewson), and womanising deputy manager Jake Booth (Colin Wells).
The storyline of the final episode was the revelation that the glamorous hotel had been a dream of supermarket worker Angela, with all the other characters revealed as shoppers. Angela even approaches a female customer in the supermarket and tells her she recognises her as Tracey (Booth) from the "TV soap Crossroads"; Tracey's mother-in-law, Kate, was also shown as one of Angela's colleagues in the supermarket.
The fictional "Crossroads Motel" was in an equally fictional village near Birmingham, "Kings Oak" (there are real Birmingham suburbs called Kings Heath, Kings Norton and Selly Oak). A number of real-life hotels doubled for location filming; the original Crossroads was filmed at a motel just south of Birmingham city centre called CherryTrees (the buildings were demolished in 2001). After the in-story destruction of the motel by fire, the revamped motel was filmed from 1982 at The Golden Valley Hotel in Cheltenham; from 1985 filming moved to the Penns Hall Hotel in Sutton Coldfield, the changed appearance explained as due to rebuilding. At the time of the move to Sutton Coldfield new studio sets were also introduced.
In 1970, the series gained a film unit, giving it the freedom to do location shooting. Originally, Tanworth-in-Arden was used for King's Oak, although outside scenes were only used occasionally. Under Central more location footage began to be used. Some early King's Oak location material was also filmed in Wolverhampton.
Other locations included the canal (including Gas Street Basin) behind ATV's former studios in Birmingham; in-story this was the King's Oak Canal, on which Jill had a barge. The Chateau Impney Hotel also featured numerous times, most famously when Hugh proposed to Meg in 1973, and it was used to hold their wedding party two years later. The Chateau Impney was renamed the Droitwich Hotel on-screen. Hagley church was setting for Jill and Adam Chance's wedding in 1983. Hagley Hall was used for the wedding reception.
In 1985, Crossroads gained its first set of full length opening titles, filmed around Sutton Coldfield and in Birmingham city centre.
The series was filmed at "Broad Street / Gas Street" Studios, which is now the HQ of ITV Central.
"Crossroads Volume 3" was finally released on February 26, 2007. There are two versions of the DVD, one being a special limited edition, which contains an extra third disc - featuring recently found episodes from 1976. "Crossroads Volume 4" was released on September 17, 2007.
Network DVD are now in the process of releasing all the surviving episodes in transmission order. The first set of 18 episodes is released in January 2008 and contains some episodes not previously available on earlier DVD releases. There are apparently 1700 episodes of Crossroads that haven't been wiped are in existence.