diamond geezer

 Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Speaking of woolly hats...

... they relaunched Crossroads on ITV yesterday. It sank.

Crossroads first hit our screens in 1964 and became Britain's first daily soap, renowned for wooden acting, wobbly sets and sensational storylines. At its peak in the 1970s it had 16 million viewers, but even that wasn't enough to save the show from the axe in 1988. Two years ago ITV tried to revive Crossroads as the heart of its daytime TV schedule, only to find that the cardboard sets had gone but the cardboard scripts remained. This week's rebirth at Kings Oak is surely the show's last chance.

Crossroads has finally ditched its downmarket image and is instead aiming squarely at the world of glamour and high camp. You can tell this because the familiar theme tune has been remade in the style of a Blackpool ballroom organ. Jane Asher has been cast as Angel Samson, the hotel's power-mad new owner and Birmingham's answer to Alexis Carrington, although you feel she'd be more at home in the kitchen icing cakes. They've cadged Madge from Neighbours and Tracey from Birds of a Feather, so goodness knows where the upmarket glamour is coming from. Certainly not from Lionel Blair, nor from the camp bellboy who delivers lines even Lily Savage would have rejected. So far there's been a murdered mistress, adultery in a jacuzzi, a mysterious blond motorbiker, one heart attack and a big family argument about not going to church on Sunday. Watching the show you almost expect Kate O'Mara to walk in at any minute... which must be why they've cast her as the local magistrate. Certainly the show is reminiscent of both Triangle and The Colbys at their very worst.

The Guardian's TV critic thought the naff approach might work, but wondered just how many fans of ironic postmodern self-referential camp are at home in front of the telly at five o'clock on a weekday afternoon? Victor Lewis-Smith, always the most readable contributor to the Evening Standard, was less impressed. Carlton, he says, is eventually going to have to accept that it's built a ship out of granite and it will never be seaworthy, no matter how many times the hull is resprayed.

Of course the one daytime soap we really want back on our screens is Acorn Antiques. If you're going to do Crossroads naff, then at least do it properly. If only Victoria Wood would take over as producer, scriptwriter and lead actress five times a week, then we'd really have something postmodern self-referential and camp to rush home from work for.

What was that terrible noise? It sounded like a tray of coffee being dropped on someone who's just been electrocuted!
Crying won't bring him back, Miss Babs. Why don't we all have a mug of my delicious home-made sherry and a couple of sausage dumplings?


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