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Your Wednesday Night In...

Your Wednesday Night In… October 1983

Wednesday, 26th October 1983


Be sure not to drop your French bread pizza in shock, as motel matriarch Meg Mortimer returns for one final cameo appearance, two years after she high-tailed it up the gangplank of the QE2, to be reunited with Jill and Adam on their honeymoon. The Midlands melodrama pushed the gondola out for some lavish location filming in Venice, including a high-octane speedboat sequence. Best of all, the entire thing is soundtracked by a ‘Special Venice Theme’ from Rondo Veneziano, the robotic classical ensemble best described as a chrome-plated fusion of Daft Punk and Ludwig. In one of his first assignments in the music business, Simon Cowell had pestered the producers to get the group featured in the soap. And you thought he had too much power over ITV now.


7.05pm HARTY, BBC1
The Greenwood Theatre is the destination for Russell’s twice-weekly banquette babblefest, newly promoted from BBC2. Never happier than when he’s reminiscing about the golden age of Hollywood, Russ exchanges some light chit-chat with Douglas Fairbanks Jr, and cues in some dinner-dance disco stylings from The Three Degrees, whose reputation as “Prince Charles’s favourite group” lasted longer than the average consignment of nuclear waste.

From the white-hot amphitheatre of sport that is Beach House Park, Worthing comes this titanic contest for The Reunion Clubs Trophy (no, we don’t know what a Reunion Club is, either). David Vine is our compere as a quartet of A-listers from the glittering realms of entertainment, sport and trade unions team up with four pipe-smoking exponents of the dark arts of crown green bowls. The red-carpet contingent comprised the mighty Roy Kinnear, football manager John Bond (recently booted out by Manchester City), snooker commentator Rex Williams and, if that wasn’t enough glamour, the former president of the NUM, Joe Gormley.

8.30pm TWENTY TWENTY VISION, Channel 4
For much of the 1980s, the schedules were full of very serious programmes asking “what will television be like in the future?” The consensus invariably being an apocalyptic vision of stripping Italian housewives, monster truck racing and vulgar game shows, which must have seemed like a relief from all the very serious programmes asking “what will television be like in the future?” Like this one, which vetted the applications for 12 new cable franchises across Britain.



  1. THX 1139

    October 31, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Half an hour of watching Roy Kinnear playing bowls might have been very relaxing – something for BBC4 to consider next time they do a slow evening. Don’t know who the modern equivalent of Roy would be, however (his son isn’t like him).

    • Jeremy Panze

      November 1, 2018 at 8:22 am

      Alan Titchmarch?

      • THX 1139

        November 1, 2018 at 11:50 am

        Hmm, not really, they do have similar facial expressions but Alan’s never made me laugh. Maybe Roy was a one-off.

    • Applemask

      November 1, 2018 at 12:01 pm

      Maybe just loop the 1983 footage with the KLF’s “Chill Out” on the soundtrack.

  2. Glenn Aylett

    November 2, 2018 at 11:45 am

    One of the very rare occasions Crossroads went out of the studio and sadly one of the last television appearance for Noele Gordon, who would die 18 months later. Older viewers might remember Noele as the host of Lunchbox, a lunchtime variety show on ATV, in the early 1960s. ( The Tyne Tees equivalent was the One O Clock Show).
    However, with regard to Crossroads, by 1983 it was in terminal decline, its main stars had gone or were leaving, ratings were tumbling, and in 1987, Central announced Crossroads was being cancelled. Yes the sets were wonky, the acting was often terrible, and the soap had run its course by the eighties, but any soap where a cleaner is accused of being a KGB spy has to have something going for it.

  3. richardpd

    November 2, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    Noele Gordon leaving Crossroads seemed to be the “jump the shark” moment for the soap.

    In it’s later years they tried to smarten it with a few changes, including giving the theme a piano arrangement, but to no avail.

    Unsurprisingly Victoria Wood spoofed this, with Acorn Antiques gaining a classier opening titles & theme.

    • Glenn Aylett

      November 2, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      @ richardpd, ratings fell by a third after she left and continued a long, slow decline until the soap was cancelled. Viewers, who were being entertained by shows like Dallas, started to see Crossroads as embarrassing and cheap, and advertisers were finding the poor and older audience Crossroads attracted as undesirable. so it had to go. Yet the soap at its height in 1977 had 16 million viewers and was entertaining in a perverse way( always liked the little cliffhanger right at the end).

      • George White

        November 2, 2018 at 8:30 pm

        I remember finding a Photoplay and Anthony Steel was moaning about people who thought he was slumming it in Crossroads, and he pointed out that more people watched Crossroads c.1977 than went to the cinema.

  4. richardpd

    November 2, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Plenty has been written about how downmarket Crossroads was, but at it’s peak only Coronation Street was the only soap competition, back when Emmerdale Farm was on at lunchtimes & Angels was the nearest the BBC had to a soap was Angels.

    A few years later the BBC had struck back with the American soaps & Eastenders so the competition was a lot stiffer.

    I did wonder if ITV considered keeping Crossroads as a daytime soap, in effect swapping places with Emmerdale (I think the Farm had been dropped by then).

  5. Glenn Aylett

    November 3, 2018 at 11:03 am

    @ richardpd. Crossroads only had Coronation St as serious competition in the seventies and could attract 17 million viewers on a good day. However, as you say, new soaps from America, Eastenders and Brookside sealed the demise of Crossroads as it looked incredibly cheap by the mid eighties and Central wanted to get rid of it. Also the reboot in 2002 was a complete failure as no one was interested in reviving such a derided show and it vanished after a year.

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