First Night: Crossroads (Carlton TV)

Lots of froth and plenty of dirty linen as new, improved motel reopens

Given its status as a classic British television soap, how apt that the new, improved
Crossroads is being sponsored by Surf washing powder. The first episode of its new incarnation offered 30 minutes of churning activity, a lot of froth, a fair amount of dirty linen and several characters in a temporary spin.

Given its status as a classic British television soap, how apt that the new, improved Crossroads is being sponsored by Surf washing powder. The first episode of its new incarnation offered 30 minutes of churning activity, a lot of froth, a fair amount of dirty linen and several characters in a temporary spin.

As the TV-watching world knows, Crossroads closed for business in 1988 after a 24-year reign, in which it had become legendary for its coarse, one-take acting and painted-chipboard production style. Despite much public demand that it be buried in a lead-lined casket and forgotten until Judgement Day, Jonathan Powell and his colleagues at Carlton Drama deemed it worth a £10m refit and a move upmarket. The old motel had no stars, deservedly; the new hotel boasts four stars, despite having a water feature that suggests several small urchins are vigorously peeing through a Perspex wall.

Viewers who remember the old premises as the Motel You'd Least Like to Spend a Night In (Okay, Apart From the One in Psycho) must have been amazed at how swish it has become. There are security cameras, beauty salons and Thai fishcakes. The rickety old reception desk has been replaced by a pine high altar, manned by the refined glamourpuss Sherrie Hewson (last seen in Coronation Street). The kitchen is the size of the River Café, run by Billy, the volatile head chef, who yells at the management and humiliates his staff by making them wear ludicrous tartan pillbox hats. Where the old motel would have been stretched to host a three-man stag party, the new hotel lays on a wedding reception for 100 (mostly invisible) guests. Why, you could almost imagine the cast of a Seventies American soap such as Dynasty actually deigning to spend an afternoon here. And so hands-on is the management style, so urgent is their desire to make the staff-guest ratio more one-on-one, that the oily, unscrupulous deputy manager, Jake, is soon upstairs introducing a sexy guest to his multi-purpose master key.

Sex seems likely to be a key ingredient in this five-times-a-week show. Sex and ambition, sex and money, sex and disputed shareholdings, sex and towel maintenance, but mostly sex. It is partly because half the 26-strong cast are in their twenties or younger (a very determined bit of audience-targeting) and partly due to a cleverly evoked atmosphere of things-about-to-happen. Crossroads Hotel is where spoilt 15-year-old girls ask total strangers "Fancy a snog?", where the chambermaids dream of marriage, the kitchen porters discuss the waitress's new bra, and Jake's dastardly attempts to wrest control of the place from his mother will always be thwarted by his howling satyriasis.

Even the alfresco moments seem charged with lust. When the swarthy gay handyman Bradley (a welcome replacement for that woolly-titfered halfwit Benny) chases a young petrol-robber and rugby-tackles him to the ground, you almost expect him to inquire "Fancy a snog?" as well.

Bradley is the possessor of the only authentic Brummie accent in this Tower of Babel. The barman is Australian, the chef is Scottish, the waitress is Iranian, the housekeeper (the admirable Kathy Staff, formerly of the Crossroads kitchen) is broad Yorkshire, the new porter is a Geordie, and Kate the hotel's owner (Jane Gurnett, who used to be Rachel in Casualty), appears to have dropped in from Bristol.

All the mix'n'matching of veteran actors, accents, plotlines and upstairs-downstairs character-drawing may suggest an over-determined drama, desperate to appeal to everybody. Well, yes it is, actually, but it is still a hoot. And though the scenery doesn't wobble any more, there is a spindly staircase whose banisters look a bit iffy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot