Jane   was   the   mainstay   cast   member   from   the   original   series appearing in total 21 of the 23 years Crossroads ran. Jane   knows   Crossroads,   and   what   it   is   about   -   and   isn't afraid   to   speak   her   mind   when   the   production   company harms   the   Crossroads   brand.   Here   she   speaks   openly   about her time on the original, and more recent spin-off. How did you first get the role of Jill Richardson? Well   I   was   working   at   the   Theatre   Royal,   York   and   the   chap   who   was   doing   the   casting,   he   was   a   very   nice   chap   called   Matthew   Lyons   and   he'd   cast   me   in Emergency   Ward   10   the   year   before,   I   think   he   thought   of   me   because   he   knew   that   I   was   Midlands   based   and   I   got   this   request   out   of   the   blue   to   go   to   an audition. I   was   doing   Alfie   at   the   Theatre   Royal   and   I   caught   the   last   train   which   was   about   10   past   9,   and   I   had   to   miss   the   curtain   call   and   there   was   a   bit   of   a drama over that, anyway I got there. I had to be there in the morning then get back for the afternoon matinee. They   saw   me   and   they   seemed   very   keen,   they   said   "Yes   that's   fine,   come   along   next   Monday"   and   I   thought:   "Oh   right",   so   I   went   back   and   I   didn't   hear another   word   from   them   and   I   thought,   "well   what   do   I   do?"   because   I   was   finishing   that   Saturday   and   then   after   that   I   was   supposed   to   stay   on   and   do Cordelia   in   King   Lear   and   I   said   "No!"   because   they   weren't   paying   my   money   properly,   and   I   thought   "Well   I'm   not   staying   here   if   they're   not   paying   me properly!" and I thought "Well I've got this other job but that was Wednesday and they said 'Come this Monday' and I hadn't heard anything. Anyway   on   the   Monday   I   was   sat   at   my   parents'   house   and   I   tried   to   phone   them   and   they   said   "No,   we   don't   know   anything   about   a   programme   called Crossroads,   no,   no,   no!"   and   I   thought   "Well   this   is   ridiculous!"   Anyway   I   got   in   my   car   and   I   drove   to   the   studios   and   walked   up   where   upon   Reg   Watson pounced   on   me   and   said   "Oh   Jane,   fantastic!   We've   been   waiting   for   you"   and   I   said   "Well   I   didn't   know   anything   and   I   rang   up   and   no-one   seemed   to   know anything   about   it!" And   he   said      "Oh   well,   we're   not   allowing   anyone   to   say   anything   about   it,   we   want   it   to   be   a   secret." And   anyway   it   was   all   right   and that was sorted out and we rushed into the studio and got started, so it really was all very last minute! Jack Barton, Crossroads' longest serving Producer died in 2002. Can you tell us a little bit about him? He   was   a   lovely,   lovely   man.   He   was   a   director   first.   When   we   were   under   Reg   there   was   Jack   Barton,   Rollo   Gamble   and   a   couple   of   other   directors,   and they   were   a   lovely   double   act   really   Rollo   and   Jack,   they   used   to   catch   the   train   back   to   London   together   and   things   like   that   and   anyway   suddenly   when Reg announced that he was going and we all thought "Oh my God who's going to take over?" and it was Jack! And   I   thought   "Oh!"   because   he'd   been   very   much   sort   of   one   of   us   when   he   was   a   director   and   he   was   still   charming   as   a   producer   but   he   had   a   little   bit more,   I   think   you   have   to   have,   you   have   to   have   that   respect   and   I   think   in   many   ways   he   changed   the   show   for   the   better   because   he   made   it   a   little   bit more   glamorous,   he   was   very   fond   of   blondes   so   practically   everybody   who   came   in   was   blonde,   and   we   had   lots   of   pretty   girls   in   it   and   I   think   as   well reality   was   the   big   thing,   to   try   to   make   it   real   so   the   characters   were   totally   real   -   unlike   now   where   they're   totally   bizarre!   But   there   were   funny   things that happened, he introduced a lot more comedy he also introduced quite a lot of social conscience. I   was   very,   very   sad   when   he   went   and   that   again   was   very,   very   strange   when   he   went,   we   didn't   know   anything   about   it   and   we   were   going   filming   down to   Cheltenham   and   Jack   said   to   me:   "Are   you   going   by   the   bus   or   are   you   going   by   car?"      I   said   "I'm   going   on   the   bus"   and   he   said   "What   about   taking   your car?"   so   I   said   "Yes   fine   not   a   problem   Jack"   I   thought   "whatever's   going   on?" Anyway   when   I   got   down   there   one   of   the   prop   people   suddenly   appeared   and said:   "Mr.   Barton   said   I've   got   to   put   this   in   the   boot   of   your   car"   and   I   said:   "What   is   it?"   and   he   said:   "I   don't   know".      It   was   a   parcel   wrapped   up   in   brown paper. Anyway   when   I   got   home,   it   was   the   2   photographs   that   had   stood   in   Meg's   sitting   room. And   then   the   next   day   it   all   came   out   that   he   was   leaving   and   that someone   else   was   taking   over   and   we   were   going   to   have   a   different   producer,   and   it   was   all   going   to   be   totally   different,   there   was   going   to   be   a different studio and I just couldn't believe it. But he was a lovely man and I'm very sad that he has died. Having played the same character for twenty-plus years, did you find that people confused you with Jill? Yes,   they   did   confuse   me:   I   think   they   all   expected   me   to   be   Jill,   and   people   totally   believed   what   was   happening   I   think   more   so   perhaps   than   they   do now. What did you think of the decision to axe your screen mother Noele Gordon? Stupid.   But   I   think   it   was   political,   the   powers   that   be   wanted   to   get   rid   of   Crossroads   and   they   thought   that   if   they   killed   Nolly   off..   However   she   also   had upset a lot of people, in fairness, she did rub people up the wrong way, Charles Denton and people like that. And   I   think   they   thought   "We'll   be   stuck   with   this   programme   forever   if   we   don't   manage   to   get   rid   of   it,   and   if   we   kill   Nolly   off   it'll   die   a   death."   Of   course it didn't actually, so I'm sure that's why, and I just think it was totally unnecessary. Is it true that people really tried to book into the Crossroads Motel? Oh yes, people used to apply for the jobs and all that kind of thing you know, can you believe it? What did you think of the changes introduced by Phillip Bowman and then William Smethurst in the 80's? Well,   Phillip   was   very   young   and   a   bit   inexperienced.   He   came   in   with   some   quite   good   ideas,   but   of   course   we   started   doing   the   programme   in   a completely   different   way.   You   see   Jack   went   because   they   gave   him   an   ultimatum,   they   said:   "You   can't   have   studio   1   you   have   to   have   studio   2   (which   is much smaller) and we're not going to give you any more money". And   Jack   said   "Well   we   can't   do   the   show   then." And   he   asked   for   a   film   crew   and   they   said   "No,   no,   no,   no!"   and   he   asked   for   more   money   and   it   was   for another   film   crew,   and   they   said   "No!"   and   I   think   they   just   wanted   him   out   and   again   I   think   it   was   all   to   do   with   this   business   that   they   really   just   wanted to   get   rid   of   the   show   so   they   were   going   to   spend   some   money   on   it,   make   it   a   very   expensive   show   and   hope   that   the   accountants   would   then   say   "Well the ratings aren't good enough to sustain this cost". So   suddenly,   we   had   a   bit   more   money   spent   on   the   show,   and   it   was   no   longer   filmed   "as   live"   which   was   great   in   some   ways   I   mean   it   took   the   pressure off,   but   actually   I   think   it   made   for   not   such   a   good   show.   Because   it   became   a   little   bit   like   a   factory   and   it   wasn't   so   much   fun   to   do   it.   I   was   absolutely amazed   that   Phillip   wanted   me   to   stay,   he   didn't   want   Ronnie   and   Sue,   and   they   made   a   wonderful   exit,   and   that   was   very   sad   and   again   I   thought   that that was a mistake, and we lasted for 2 years and then suddenly with no real discussion he's out and William's in! William   had   run   the Archers   and   he   had   a   fearsome   reputation,   but   after   he   arrived   he   was   wonderful   with   scripts.   He   was   not   the   easiest   of   people   to   get on   with,   but   for   me,   he   had   some   super   writers   and   he   made   my   character   much   more   of   a   character,   I   had   much   better   scenes,   much   better.   Whereas before   I   just   had   to   make   what   I   could   out   of   it,   but   this   was   actually   written,   and   it   was   quite   funny   and   I   turned   into   this   dizzy,   slightly   snooty   girl.   It was   quite   funny   and   it   was   nice,   I   really   enjoyed   that.   But   I   liked   William   and   I   was   horrified   when   the   programme   went   because   they'd   given   him   a   long contract and led him right up the garden path, promising him this was forever, you know, so that he would leave the BBC, they were very naughty. But didn't you think that a lot of the changes upset the viewers especially the theme tune? Oh   I   didn't   like   all   that.   And   I   don't   think   he   was   quite   so   good   at   casting.   You   see   Jack   had   always   thought   "Pretty   girls   and   sexy   blokes   on   television", that's   what   he   thought,   with   a   bit   of   charm   and   style   and   I   agree   with   him.   Phillip   also   liked   that.   I   mean   he   liked   a   bit   of   style   and   he   liked   a   bit   of   charm and he liked it all to be fairly glamorous. William   was   rather   too   dour   actually   and   I   don't   really   think   that   was   a   good   thing. Also   he   did   cast   one   or   two   people   who   looked   very   similar   and   it   was quite   difficult,   (laughs)   he   did   have   some   very   strange   ideas   about   my   character   as   well.   He   has   this   business   of   me   falling   in   love   with   Micky   which   I   don't think was very good. Then I fell in love with - what's his name? - John Maddingham. And I don't know whether that was really successful. Were you surprised when it was finally axed? I   was   at   first   because   there'd   been   talk   that   it   was   coming   off   for   15   years   but   I'd   never   bothered   too   much   about   it,   I   just   got   on   with   it.   But   I   was surprised   that   they   did   it   when   they   did.   Because   it   was   doing   terribly   well,   it   had   very   good   ratings   and   they'd   done   all   the   advertising   and   stuff. And   we'd met all these targets in terms of "audiences between the ages of" and all that. So, yes I was surprised. What did you think of the ending, where Jill went off with John Maddingham? Well   I   think   that   was   cobbled   together,   an   idea   to   give   us   a   link   to   a   possible   future.   I   think   that   William   was   trying   his   hardest   to   get   it   to   come   back   as sort   of   Kings   Oak   somewhere   else,   but   there   was   all   sorts   of   talk.   By   then   I   think   that   the   powers   that   be   had   got   frightened   of   the   costs   that   had   become involved and the changes in the way they did programmes then. We didn't really need all these sets, we'd just go out filming. But what they should have done was to put it out to tender as an independent production, that would have been the way to do it. What have you been doing since the original Crossroads ended? Oh,   quite   a   lot   of   things.   Did   lots   of   theatre   tours   and   all   sorts   of   other   bits   and   pieces.   But   then   really   I   tend   to   get   fed   up   with   all   that   touring   round   the country and I've done more of these celebrity things, that's another thing that's started happening. So I've done quite a lot. How did it feel coming back into the new Crossroads? Well   it   was   exciting   and   then   less   exciting   when   they   didn't   want   me   for   longer   than   3   months!   I   didn't   want   to   be   in   it   for   longer   than   3   months   but   I didn't think it was a good idea to kill my character off. As indeed has been proved. Did you actually say you only wanted to be in it for 3 months? I   didn't   say   anything.   In   my   mind   I'd   decided   I   didn't   really   want   to   be   in   it   forever   but   I   waited   to   see   what   they   offered   me   and   they   offered   me   3   months and   I   said   "That's   absolutely   great"   and   then   they   said:   "Well,   actually   we're   going   to   kill   you   off",   and   I   said   that   was   stupid!   I   said   that   I   don't   want   to   be in   it   for   longer   than   3   months   but   to   kill   me   off   was   a   very   silly   thing   to   do.   I   said:   "You   will   lose   audiences   and   you   won't   get   them   back".   And   that's exactly what happened. Where do you feel that the new Crossroads went wrong? How do you think they could improve it? I   think,   and   even   more   so   now,   they   hadn't   really   understood   what   the   original   programme   was   about.   They   made   a   big   fuss   about   building   this   enormous set   for   a   million   pounds   which   was   totally   rigid   and   didn't   move.   But   the   whole   thing   is   that   people   watched   the   show   with   the   set   that   shook!   They weren't   interested   in   the   set,   they   wanted   to   see   what   was   going   on   with   the   people.   And   that's   the   clue,   it's   the   characters!   I   think   they   went   for   a deliberately fast moving, very youth-orientated, totally amoral: trying to be very sort of sexy and controversial and I don't think that paid off. I   think   it   offended   the   people   who   were   available   to   watch.   I   know   that   they   wanted   it   to   be   on   at   a   much   later   time   but   frankly   they   were   given,   when they   started   writing,   12.30   and   10   to   5   or   something.   Now   you've   got   to   think:   who   is   going   to   watch   this?   Who's   out   there?   You've   got   to   build   your audience.   When   you've   built   it   you   can   then   do   what   you   like   really,   you   can   start   aiming   for   another   audience   but   you've   got   to   have   a   few   million   people watching before you start putting your foot down and saying; "Well, we want this!" Otherwise no one wants to know! Do you feel that they should have tried to aim it at the old Crossroads fans? Yes!   I   do   because   the   old   Crossroads   fans   have   still   got   nothing   to   watch.   They're   sitting   there   moaning! And   people   who   are   around   during   the   day,   they want   something   more   comfortable,   not   too   controversial.   Not   too   challenging,   they   want   something   funny   they   want   something,   a   little   bit   naughty perhaps,   they   want   to   have   a   twist   and   a   story   but   they   want   some   characters   they   can   grow   to   know   and   love   and   feel   comfortable   with.   They   had   too many young people in it I think, and you cant' really identify with them. They want to watch young people, of course they do. But   they   also   need   to   add   some   older   ones   to   add   a   bit   of   balance,   to   disapprove   of   what   the   young   ones   are   up   to,   not   to   condone   it! The   whole   business of   turning   the   first   Sarah   Jane   into,   I   thought   she   was   brilliant   the   first   one,   I   thought   she   had   so   much   style   and   charisma   and   I   think   they   were   crazy   not to use that. She was the wicked, naughty woman, I thought she was superb. Was it the case that they decided to make her into a phoney to leave open the possibility that Jill could come back? Well   I   don't   know   quite   what   happened   but   I   have   a   feeling   that   they   did.   Because   I   know   Kay   Patrick,   she   wanted   it   changed   when   she   got   in   but   it   had   all been   decided   before   she   arrived.   She   was   superb.   She   had   a   bit   of   experience,   she   had   a   bit   of   know-how   whereas   a   lot   of   the   kids   who   were   writing   it had no idea. They didn't have anyone either who was mature and experienced to write the storylines. Have you managed to see any of the new series, Crossroads Mark III? (Laughs)   Well   yes   I   was   totally   bewildered,   I   mean   what   is   it,   it   looks   more   like   a   brothel!   It's   not   a   classy   hotel   it's   an   absolute   hovel!   I   mean,   there's   no sophistication is there? And again it seems to be all about the staff not about the guests. However I've only seen one episode so it may improve. Would you be prepared to go back if they asked you now? I don't know. It depends what sort of storyline they might have. What would you say was the highlight of your time on Crossroads? I   think   it   was   the   time   when   Jack   was   running   it,   that   was   the   best.   Because   we'd   got   it   all   very   well   organised   and   although   it   was   a   bit   scary   we   had great fun and they had some very good people who worked together very well. And   the   amazing   thing   about   Jack   was   you   felt   totally   relaxed.   He   always   had   a   solution   to   the   problem:   a   plan   B,   plan   C   and   if   necessary   a   plan   X, Y   or   Z. And   he   was   very   good   at   managing   the   press.   You   see   nowadays,   they   tell   the   press   what's   going   to   happen!   Whereas   Jack   would   say,   "Oh,   there's   a   very important episode next week and you've got to watch it, I can't possibly tell you what's going to happen." Which   was   great   because   people   had   to   watch   to   find   out   if   it   was   going   to   be   a   wedding   that   didn't   happen   or   a   murder,   they   didn't   know   what   was   going to happen. I   cannot   understand   why   that's   a   good   thing,   to   tell   people:   "You've   got   to   watch   tonight   because   someone's   going   to   be   murdered!"   It   spoils   the   story.   I think   in   those   days   we   tried   harder   to   be   closer   to   reality   than   now.   We'd   have   one   murder   a   year   and   about   3   weddings   a   year   and   that   was   about   it   and the occasional rape. Now it's every second isn't it? And the awful thing is that life is beginning to imitate the soaps.
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