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 The rickety old reception desk has been replaced by a pine high altar, manned by the refined glamourpuss Sherrie Hewson (last seen in Coronation Street).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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Report Writer / Reporting Analyst

£25 - 30k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Report Writer / Reporting Analyst is nee...

Guru Careers: German Speaking Account Manager / Account Executive

£24-30K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A German speaking Account Manager ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own