When did Crossroads air? All your questions about the iconic soap answered

Cast shot of the original Crossroads
Crossroads started in 1964. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Once upon a time, in the days when there were only three TV channels to choose from, Crossroads was one of the most popular shows in Britain.

The ATV Birmingham-based soap opera burst onto viewers' screens back in November 1964. Recorded live, Crossroads was panned by the critics for its wobbly sets, actors regularly fluffing their lines and characters disappearing for months on end. But despite all this, the show amassed an enormous fan base, and at its peak was watched by an audience of 15 million.

It’s now the subject of new ITV drama, Nolly, which explores the unceremonious sacking of Crossroads’ leading lady, Noele Gordon. The adored actress (who is played by Helena Bonham Carter) was axed without warning by the show’s producers, a decision which sparked national outrage.

But what else is there to know about the soap that made Noele Gordon an international star? We’ve got all your questions about Crossroads covered...

Was Crossroads a real show?

Yes, very much so. Crossroads was the brainchild of screenwriters Hazel Adair and Peter Ling.

The television soap opera, which was produced by ATV, was originally based around two feuding sisters — Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon) and Kitty Jarvis (Beryl Johnstone). Wealthy widow Meg used her late husband's fortune to turn her spacious Georgian house into 'The Crossroads Motel'. 

Set in the fictional Midlands guest house, Crossroads originally aired five days a week and was a trailblazer of its time, tackling issues controversial in the 1960s.

Cast shot of the original Crossroads

Crossroads made Noele Gordon an international star. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

When did Crossroads air?

The first episode of Crossroads aired on Monday 2 November 1964.

It was recorded "as live" on a low budget, meaning the cast had limited opportunities for any retakes and there was no room for error. As a result, the actors frequently mucked up their dialogue, and the sets would often visibly shake.  

After complaints were made, in 1967, The Independent Television Authority declared Crossroads should be reduced to four episodes per week to improve its quality. This was later taken down to three in 1979, and by 1988, Crossroads was only airing twice a week.

Recording for the show ended at Christmas 1987, and Crossroads' feature-length finale was broadcast on April 4, 1988.

The show was revived in 2001 by Carlton Television, but poor ratings led to the reboot being canceled after only two years.

Why was it called Crossroads?

The beloved teatime show was named after the fictional Crossroads Motel, which lead character Meg Richardson ran.

Flame-haired Meg had used her late husband's money, along with compensation from the council for them building a motorway through their land, to turn her family home into a motel. 

The Crossroads Motel was located on the outskirts of the fictional village of King's Oak, which was situated near Birmingham.

Although originally called Crossroads, it was later known as Crossroads Motel and then Crossroads King's Oak

Cast shot of the original Crossroads

Noele Gordon played lead role, Meg Mortimer (right).   (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Where was Crossroads filmed?

The original series of Crossroads was recorded at ATV's Broad Street studios in Birmingham, although a number of real-life hotels were occasionally used for filming purposes. 

The layout of the Longshoot Motel in Nuneaton provided the blueprint for designing the Crossroads Motel, and the CherryTrees Motel, in Warwickshire, was sometimes used as a set. In 1982, filming moved to the Golden Valley Hotel in Cheltenham, then the Penns Hall Hotel in Sutton Coldfield.

For the rarely shown exterior scenes, the show's crew used the small village Tanworth-in-Arden in Warwickshire to portray King's Oak. Earlier location material was filmed in Wolverhampton.

The show's reboot, which aired in 2001, was still set in the West Midlands. Interior scenes were filmed at the Carlton Studios in Nottingham, and the crew used local areas such as Bingham and Redmile for the exterior shots. 

Who was the biggest star of Crossroads?

The undisputed star of the show was actress Noele Gordon, who played motel owner Meg Richardson (later Meg Mortimer).

The role had been created by the Crossroads' writers with RADA-trained Noele in mind, and she was the only cast member to be given a permanent contract. 

Adored by her co-stars and fans alike, Noele, aka Nolly, became known as the 'Queen of soap', and won the TV Times award for most popular television character an incredible eight times.

But in 1981, after 17 years at the top, she was sacked from the soap, without any prior warning or explanation. 

The truth behind that shocking turn of events is now brought to light in ITV drama, Nolly, an affectionate tribute to a forgotten icon, created by writer Russell T Davies.

Noele Gordon with the rest of her Crossroads cast

Noele Gordon with the rest of her Crossroads co-stars. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Why did Crossroads come to an end?

Despite being the continual butt of TV critics' jokes, Crossroads was hugely popular with the viewing public. On occasion, it even beat the UK's leading soap, Coronation Street in ratings, with audience figures of 15 million — something that's practically unheard of today.

Its slow demise began in 1981 when Charles Denton was appointed the Head of Programmes at ATV and wanted to bring an end to Crossroads to focus on more high-end dramas.

Instead of giving the soap the chop, the decision was made by Charles and other execs to sack Noele Gordon, in the hope the viewers would suddenly switch off in protest.

The risky move backfired, and Crossroads continued for another seven years, before coming to an end in April 1988. 

When did the reboot of Crossroads air?

Crossroads made a highly-anticipated return on 5 March 2001 with a snazzy 'Millennium' reboot.

The former Crossroads motel was transformed into a glamourous hotel, and featured Jill Harvey, a popular character from the original series and the daughter of former owner Meg.

Other characters included new proprietor Kate Russell, snooty receptionist Virginia Raven, and womanising deputy manager Jake Booth. 

However, it failed to hit the spot with fans, and the decision was made by Carlton Television to call it a day. 

The last episode of Crossroads aired on 30 May 2003. And in a truly bonkers twist, it was revealed the revived series had all been a dream of supermarket worker and Crossroads fan, Angela, and the characters were revealed to be her customers.

Cast shot of the Crossroads reboot

Crossroads had a reboot in 2001 with a brand new cast and set.  (Image credit: BBC)

Where can I watch Crossroads?

In December 2022, Network distribution released a new 94-disc DVD boxset titled Crossroads: The Noele Gordon Collection. It contains every episode known to exist from 1964, until Gordon's last appearance in November 1981, and a number of special features. 

In addition to that, a few selected episodes from the original series are now available to watch on ITVX, as well as subscription services BritBox and YouTube.

Laura Morgan
Freelance writer

Laura has been a journalist for over a decade, writing about soaps, TV entertainment, fashion, beauty, and food. After graduating from university, she started her career working at a national soap and TV magazine. During her seven-year stint there she joined the cast of Emmerdale for a tour around the famous village, partied with soap stars at awards bashes, interviewed her acting idol David Suchet, and sat in the front row of Strictly Come Dancing

Her heart lies with the soaps, and her all-time favourite character has to be EastEnders' Pat Butcher - no one rocked a big earring quite like her. She's also a huge fan of detective crime dramas, particularly old school Inspector Morse, Endeavour, and adaptations of Agatha Christie's Marple and Poirot. When she's not writing, she loves a spot of second-hand shopping and going on adventures with her young son.