Love and Marriage

As the saying goes, the path of true love never runs smooth, and that has certainly been true for Meg Mortimer. Ever since she opened the Crossroads Motel in 1963, after losing her first husband, Meg has been on a romantic roller coaster with more than its fair share of downs, and her relationship with Hugh Mortimer was no exception. . . .

Hugh and Meg first met in the mid-sixties and they were attracted to each other right from the start. Hugh was rich, successful, good-looking and full of sophisticated charm. It was hardly surprising that Meg fell for him although she had her reservations about some of his more shady business methods. However, love conquers all, and Meg finally agreed to marry Hugh. After the engagement the romance continued to blossom – until Louise Borrelli appeared on the scene.

Louise was the beautiful daughter of one of Hugh’s American business associates, and she decided that, engaged or not, Hugh Mortimer was the man for her. In spite of the fact that the attraction was very one-sided, Hugh’s friendship with Louise caused a rift between Meg and himself and, anxious not to lose his fiance, he had a heart-to-heart talk with Louise, telling her that she wasn’t the girl for him. But it was too late. For Meg the relationship had soured, and it was almost a year before Hugh came into her life again.

Even then, she found it hard to rid herself of her doubts. Hugh took her to Paris for a romantic weekend, and although it was obvious that they were still in love, Meg wasn’t convinced. They separated, only to come back together again when Hugh was taken ill. For a time they feared that he was dying, and Meg realised that she didn’t want to lose him. When he recovered they talked of marriage and got engaged for a second time.

But this engagement was also doomed. Meg had flown to Tunisia on Hugh’s behalf to organise the opening of a hotel, while Hugh was in Australia sorting out some business problems. Or so Meg thought… until she received a telegram saying that Hugh had married someone else. The ‘other woman’ was Jane Templeton; young, pretty, and dying of a tumour on the brain. She came to England for an operation to remove it, and Meg’s bitter feelings had to be put aside. Jane told her that Hugh’s betrayal wasn’t as heartless as it seemed he had married her to give her a few months of happiness, knowing that she hadn’t long to live. She died in hospital, never regaining consciousness after the operation.

Anxious to put the past behind her, Meg worked harder than ever, and was soon being courted by the plausible Malcolm Ryder. Her barriers down after the heartbreak of her romance with Hugh, Meg married Ryder, and made a mistake that almost cost her her life. Ryder was a weak, unscrupulous man, and when he found himself in financial difficulties he decided to poison Meg and claim the insurance money. Fortunately he was discovered, and when confronted with his crime he walked out of the motel and out of Meg’s life. Some time later news came that he had burnt to death in a car crash in South America.

But what of Hugh? He had never forgotten Meg, and when they met again, some eight years after their first meeting, they fell in love all over again. Hugh proposed for the third time, and soon Meg was wearing engagement ring number three – a large, square-cut diamond surrounded by sixteen smaller diamonds. Surely nothing could go wrong this time.

Unfortunately, it could. News came that Malcolm Ryder was still alive, and the shock made Meg lose her memory for a time. She recovered slowly, faced with the awful truth that she was still married – to a murderer. Then her luck changed. Ryder came back to England and had the gall to turn up at the motel. Hugh immediately alerted the police and Ryder was arrested. Divorce proceedings followed, and at last the preparations for the wedding could begin.

Soon Meg was caught up in a whirl of activity, choosing her trousseau, planning the reception, ordering the cake, invitations and flowers and, of course, making sure that the motel ran as smoothly as ever. For the actual ceremony Meg chose a pale, mint green organza dress, to be worn with matching shoes and a large straw picture hat trimmed with yellow and white flowers and fine rouleaux in the same material as the dress. Then she picked out a flattering cream jersey dress as part of her going away outfit; to be worn under a very beautiful mink coat, plus several glamorous dresses for those romantic evenings on the honeymoon.

At last the preparations were complete, and the great day arrived. The wedding took place at the Birmingham Registry Office, and was followed by a Service of Blessing in St Philip’s Cathedral. Meg and Hugh arrived in a white Rolls, and as Meg said, it could have been a Royal wedding, they felt so grand! Needless to say, the bride looked radiant and the groom obviously felt very proud . . . as well he might after waiting ten years for this very day.

After the service, friends and relatives assembled for photographs, and then it was on to the reception at the Droitwich Hotel. If Hugh was nervous about his speech it didn’t show, and everything went off without a hitch. When at last it was time to leave, the white Rolls was there at the door, and it was a funny thing, but the chauffeur looked exactly like Larry Grayson!

It was a happy ending to a very happy day but, sadly, Meg and Hugh were to have just three short years together before Hugh’s tragic death made Meg a widow for a second time. After the anguish and bitterness of those first black weeks Meg has regained some of her old fighting spirit, but the wounds are still there, wounds that only time can heal.

CROSSROADS CHRONICLE

Like all closely-knit communities, King’s Oak and the Crossroads Motel have had their share of joy and sadness. Babies have been born and folk have died and there has been the happy sound of wedding bells for several couples.

Brian Jarvis, Meg’s nephew, married his father’s secretary, Janice, and all seemed set fair for the young couple when they were married in the parish church. But later Brian began to drink heavily. He went away for a ‘cure’ only to find himself divorced on his return

Another wedding at the village church was that of waitress Christine Fuller to milkman Ralph Palmer. The couple later started a smallholding and everyone hoped that it would be a great success.

One wedding which caused much surprise was that of the handsome young vicar Peter Hope to Marilyn Gates, who at first refused Peter’s proposal because she felt that she was not cut out to be a clergyman’s wife. But Peter finally persuaded her, with a little help from his bishop, and now the young couple are doing missionary work in Africa, where Peter finds Marilyn an ideal helpmate.

There was a delightful real-life postscript to this wedding when the dress worn by Marilyn was given to a young orphaned hospital patient named Irene who was suffering from a hereditary disease. Irene was a keen Crossroads fan and was shortly to marry her carpenter sweetheart.

After recovering from the traumas of discovering that she had bigamously married John Crane, Jill Richardson is now happily married to Stan Harvey, with an adorable small daughter, Sarah-Jane, who is the apple of Meg’s eye. Sarah-Jane is doubly precious because of Jill’s previous miscarriage, and the disappointment of giving up their ‘adopted baby to Sheila. Although many people were surprised at Jill’s choice of husband, the Harveys are very happy and Meg is sure that, despite their different backgrounds, Stan and Jill can face the future confidently together.

Romance has no age barrier and some time ago Wilf, Stan’s plain-spoken father, found himself a new wife in Myrtle Cavendish, which pleased everyone at Crossroads very much. Myrtle, who worked in a pub, and Wilf, moved into a flat above Stan’s shop.

But babies can cause unhappiness as well as bring joy as Jill and Stan found to their sorrow. They unofficially adopted his sister Sheila’s baby but when Sheila married the baby’s father, Roy Mollison, later on, she took the baby back. Jill was very upset but soon she had a daughter of her own to make up for her loss.

But another baby was responsible in an innocent way for the breakup of Vince Parker’s marriage. Vince, the friendly King’s Oak postman, married Diane Lawton, fully prepared to accept her baby by film star Frank Adam as his own. But when Diane accepted financial help from Frank Adam the marriage began to crumble; now the couple are separated and Vince lives in London, a sad loss to King’s Oak.

Two of the managers of the Motel have also found romance which ended in wedding bells. Paul Stevens and waitress Sandra Gould are now running a hotel in Guernsey, while Tessa Wyvern and her husband Nick Van Doren moved into their own hotel soon after their marriage.

Brian Jarvis has had more than his fair share of trouble. Acquitted of a manslaughter charge, his drinking causes trouble between himself and Janice, and despite efforts by both his parents and the Giffords to effect a reconciliation, the couple finally obtain a divorce.

And what of Meg herself? An on-off romance with Hugh Mortimer for some ten years resulted in a marriage to Malcolm Ryder with disastrous results. Malcolm tried to poison her for the insurance money he would collect on her death. When this attempt failed he fled and he was reported dead abroad.

Hugh entered her life once more and it seemed at last that Meg would find happiness, but Malcolm returned to England. Still alive, he had passed off another body as his own, but later he was returned to South America to stand trial for murder, and Meg was free to start divorce proceedings.

At last it seems that, after years of heartbreak and waiting, Meg and Hugh are to find happiness together at last. A Registry Office ceremony is followed by a Blessing at St. Philip’s Cathedral crowded with family, friends and well-wishers, setting the seal on a day Meg will always remember.

Wilf finds a moment in his busy day helping out at the motel to give Myrtle the barmaid a ring. Myrtle and Wilf later marry and go to live in a flat over Stan's shop.

Years of happiness and contentment seem ahead of them, but the fates decree differently. On a trip to Australia Hugh is kidnapped by terrorists, he suffers a fatal heart attack . . . and once again Meg finds herself a widow.

But still enjoying married life are Meg’s brother Andy Fraser and his wife Ruth Bailey, whose wedding was the cause of great celebrations in the 500th edition of Crossroads. After his marriage Andy left the merchant navy, which had been his life for so long, and at first the couple had a grocery business and later a travel agency.

But life has its sad moments as well as its times of joy, as several Crossroads people, notably Meg and her family, know to their cost.

Meg has lost both a dear sister in Kitty Jarvis and a beloved husband, but life goes on.

Bennie, from the farm at King’s Oak, lost Maureen, the girl he was to marry, in an accident on their wedding day, and now he makes a pilgrimage to her grave to relive their happy times together.

The staff at Crossroads were all terribly distressed also when Josefina got a letter telling her that her husband Carlos, their popular Spanish chef, had died in a fire, heroically trying to save some trapped children. And when George Petersham tried to commit suicide by jumping under a train because of becoming an alcoholic, the staff and all his fans were greatly shocked, for George has been in Crossroads since the first episode.

Tragedy hit the motel again when a blind girl was kidnapped by Edge Sharp, a gunman who killed a policeman and injured Angela’s father as they tried to rescue her. But later there was new hope that Angela’s sight might be restored.

So it goes on, as the lives of Meg and her family and staff and the customers at Crossroads are interwoven in a pictorial patchwork of bright and dark days when human emotions, good and bad, rule the lives of everyone.

The Harvey family – Jill, Stan and Sarah-Jane.

The farming folk of King’s Oak

Ed Lawton.
Diane.

Life moves at a much slower pace at the Farm than at the Motel, with spring following winter, the days lengthening into summer and shortening again as the autumn leaves fall, for nature takes its time and cannot be hurried. But the farming folk of King’s Oak still have problems to solve. Incidents happy and sad, bringing laughter and sometimes a few tears, and many minor seasonal problems make up the working day of that oddly-matched farming duo, Benny and Ed.

Lately Ed has been in hospital suffering from a slipped disc. He worried about how Benny was coping, although Diane managed to install a friendly housekeeper named Doris Luke to help out and make sure that there would not be absolute chaos in the kitchen when Ed returned.

His stay in hospital gave Ed a little time to reflect on his life. Like Benny he loves the land and all he wants is to be allowed to make a decent living from the soil, and to be allowed to enjoy the quiet beauties of nature around him. An honest and hardworking man, he is not too ambitious, and although grateful for help in the past from people like Hugh Mortimer, who was genuinely trying to help Ed make more use of his land, Ed resents the men who see land as a profitable asset and not as something which feeds man and beast and pleases the eye. He is afraid that one day someone unscrupulous and far cleverer than himself will find some way of tricking him out of his land, and leaving both him and Benny homeless and without jobs.

Although this secret fear is always with him, Ed is more afraid for Benny’s sake than for his own, for because of the way life has treated him, poor Benny cannot think as clearly or as quickly as others and he is far more trusting and much more easily hurt.

He is like a playful puppy, eager for friendship, and willing to accept teasing if it will make people like him.

He cannot understand that there are girls like Josie who, after teasing Benny and arousing his interest in her, makes him the butt of her unkind jokes and dubs him ‘Barmy Benny’.

This Benny certainly is not, he is just slow, but he responds immediately to kindness and understanding, both of which he gets in full measure from Diane, Ed’s niece from the Motel. Diane treats Benny with compassion, affection and understanding. She listens to his problems and tries to help him to solve them.

Benny found Diane a tower of strength when tragedy struck his life. A family of gipsies named Flynn occasionally visited the Farm – indeed Seamus sometimes lends a hand -and Benny fell in love with Maureen, a really beautiful gipsy girl. To everyone’s amazement, Maureen agreed to marry Benny, but on the morning of the wedding she was killed cycling to see him to tell him something important.

Everyone expected poor Benny to go to pieces, but he reacted with a quiet dignity which impressed all his friends. But none of them realised that Benny would always be tormented by wondering just why Maureen wanted to see him … if she had intended calling off the wedding because she realised she did not love Benny enough.

But although he sometimes wondered about another of the gipsies, Pat Grogan who worked at the Motel and visited the Farm on his day off, Benny insisted that Maureen had been ‘his girl’ and he is saving up hard to buy a headstone for her grave as his last visual token of his love.

The two actors who play Benny and his ‘Gaffer’, as Benny calls Ed, are in no way like the two farming characters they play.

Paul Henry went to drama school which was followed by a spell in rep and then it was into TV in Shakespeare and other classical dramas. Since then he has been a popular member of the Crossroads cast for several years. Benny is not an easy character to play, he could so easily become a buffoon instead of a human being who needs care and understanding because he is mentally growing up much slower than people in his own age group.

Paul Henry manages to portray this trait of Benny’s character very well, and he makes Benny a completely sympathetic character.

Thomas Heathcote can claim some forty years of acting under his belt, starting at the Old Vic and going on to a series of plays and films both in the theatre and in TV, which include his memorable performance as the Common Man in the film Man for all Seasons, about the life of Sir Thomas More.

Thomas brings that extra touch of Heathcote magic to all his varied roles, and in Ed he has created a real honest-to-goodness countryman, gruff and bluff, yet with a love of the land which seems to have been passed on for generations to men like Ed.

He protects Benny from the outside world and helps him all he can, while in return Benny likes and respects his ‘Gaffer’. On occasions they have had differences of opinion and Benny has left the farm angry or depressed, but he has always returned.

Benny.

Sandy, a very special son

Sandy Richardson was fifteen years old when his mother opened up the family hotel as the Crossroads Motel. After his father’s death Sandy was determined to help Meg all he could, but his plan to sabotage the opposition by putting salt in the sugar bowls of the Fairlawns Hotel went sadly awry. He was accused of stealing a sum of money and it was only through Hugh Mortimer’s quick wits in discovering the real thief that Sandy did not find himself on a criminal charge.

After this Sandy left the running of the motel to Meg while he concentrated on carving himself out a career as a cub reporter on the local paper. He gained the respect of Cyril, his editor, when he managed to cope with the day-to-day running of the newspaper during Cryil’s illness, and he began to cover important events in King’s Oak, such as the memorable court case involving the old Coach House.

He found excitement on his own doorstep when he and Meg were threatened in one of the motel’s chalets by a man with a gun, but Sandy kept a cool head and all was well.

Sandy seemed all set for a happy future. His boyish charm won him many friends and he had a special place in his mother’s heart . . . but then tragedy struck.

On his way back from a wedding in 1972, Sandy was a passenger in David Hunter’s Uncle Timothy’s car. The car crashed, killing the drunken woman driver, and as a result Sandy now spends his life in a wheelchair.

The accident caused an incurable spinal injury and Sandy had to learn to live his life as a paraplegic. His mother and Jill and all his friends were worried about how he would cope with this, but Sandy has shown great courage in coming to terms with his disability, after the first shock, and he still retains his impish sense of humour and the charm which has won him so many friends.

Today he shows how he can still help in the efficient running of the motel, even from a wheelchair, and Meg is confident that the managerial side of the motel can benefit from Sandy’s skill and knowledge. Crossroads is a very special motel, and there will always be a place there for Sandy, a very special son and a very special person to all Crossroads fans.

1978 // TRANSDIFFUSION BROADCASTING SYSTEM