5 March 1903|
Smethwick, West Midlands, England
|Died||8 September 1989 (Age 86)|
|Years active||1930s - 1989|
Early life and career
She was born in Smethwick, and entered show business as a singer appearing in musicals such as The Belle of New York and The Desert Song and featured in the Gilbert and Sullivan show D'Oyly Carte. She loved to sing and made a special appearance at Birmingham Town Hall singing in Handel's Messiah.
Ann George also had her own cabaret act singing and telling jokes. She took her first husband, George Snape's first name, after he died as her stage name.
Career at Crossroads
She joined the cast of Crossroads in 1965 playing the cleaner Amy Turtle. She got the part after apparently complaining to ATV producers that there were not enough true Birmingham accents. She first appeared in 1966, working in the antique shop. She later became a cleaning lady at the Crossroads Motel, working for the formidable housekeeper Mrs Loomis. Critics derided George's performance; Crossroads was shot as live, and the low budget meant that the recording could not be edited and retakes were rare. Any slips made had to remain for the transmission; memorably, Amy would often answer the telephone with the show's catchphrase "Crossroads Motel, can I help you?" - five seconds later the phone would actually ring.
In 1976 she was axed from Crossroads. There followed a famous photograph of her in the British newspaper The Sun, waving her fists outside the ATV Studios. In the storyline, Amy was convicted of shoplifting; only later did the truth become known, that it was a cry for help as her son Billy had been killed in tragic circumstances. One of her last performances was a storyline in which Amy broke into Coventry Cathedral in the dead of night in order to mourn her son. The character is also famous for a story that never happened. The storyline of Amy being arrested for being a Soviet Double Agent, Amelia Turtleovski wasn't seen on-screen. Crossroads Appreciation Society researchers, working through the show's script documents, discovered that Amy was never arrested, nor was she accused of any crime. Simply a Russian guest at the motel mistook her for Amelia, and left Amy baffled by his reaction to her. . In her final 1976 storyline, Amy went to see her nephew living in Texas in order to get over the death of Billy. After her departure the staff of the Motel never mentioned her again.
During these years George worked in clubs and pantomimes, before returning to the soap opera 11 years later. In 1987, she made a return to the programme. Crossroads was now under the management of producer William Smethurst, who insisted on bringing Amy back. When she walked into the studio for the first time in 11 years the cast - many of whom had worked with her first time round - broke into a spontaneous round of applause which brought tears to her eyes. It has been reported that George was unable to climb the stairs to the studio, which meant her appearances were limited to the occasional cameo in the studio, or on location in the village of Tanworth-in-Arden that doubled for the fictional King's Oak. The ATV Centre, however, had at the time fully operating lifts to all floors - including the studio level, so where this story originated from is still a mystery.
Later years & Death
One of her last interviews took place on LWT's The Six O'Clock Show where she talked enthusiastically about her return to the show in 1987, as well as the small pay packets for the series' stars. Ann was also given the opportunity to address her reputation for forgetting her lines, and made it quite clear that she wasn't the only cast member to suffer with this problem. For many years fans have been uncomfortable about the way she was treated on the show and have wrongly accused Chris Tarrant of mocking her - footage of the episode in fact shows him recalling a personal appearance that he and Ann were invited to that reinforces her character's popularity - where everyone wanted to talk to 'Amy'.
Ann George became ill towards the end of the 1980s while still appearing in Crossroads, and after a long battle with cancer she died on 8 September 1989, leaving her second husband Gordon Buckingham and a son, George Jr by her first marriage. At the time of her death The Noele Gordon and Crossroads Appreciation Society hailed her as the Queen Mum of the soap.
Crossroads: A Celebration- Amy Turtle
Crossroads- A Touch of the Sun