Helena Bonham Carter is Noele Gordon in Russell T Davies' New TV Show

Helena Bonham Carter stars in Russell T Davies' new three-part drama for ITV, Nolly. She plays the real-life actress Noele Gordon and the show produced by Nicola Shindler's Quay Street Productions will tell the story of the all-powerful reign, and fall from grace, of the TV star who played Meg Richardson in the ITV soap opera Crossroads, and who was dubbed Queen of the Midlands.

Russell T Davies' New TV Drama Nolly Stars Helena Bonham Carter
Photo by ITV/Shutterstock (12586310b) Noele Gordon, as Meg Richardson 'Crossroads' – June 1978

Sacked from the popular TV soap forty years ago by ITV, the station that fired her is now making this new show. This is the first drama under Nicola Shindler's new production banner with ITV Studios. Russell T Davies writes "One of my very first jobs in TV was a trial script for Crossroads, and I've wanted to write the story of behind the scenes on that show for 40 years. At last, the truth can be told!" Helena Bonham Carter says "Noele Gordon was a fascinating, complex, brilliant and gutsy woman – none of which I knew before I read Russell T Davies' script. I'm so thrilled to help tell Nolly's long overdue and largely forgotten story. Russell's screenplay is a work of brilliance and I hope I'll do him and Nolly justice. I can't wait to start."

Noele (or Nolly to her friends) was a legend in her own lifetime. As flame-haired widow Meg Richardson in the long-running soap opera Crossroads, she was one of the most famous people in Britain. Then in 1981, at the height of the show's success and the peak of Nolly's fame, she was axed without ceremony, without warning, and with no explanation. With the boss's words "all good things must come to an end" ringing in her ears, Noele Gordon found herself thrown out of the show that was her life for over 18 years, and she returned to the stage,

This move came as the show's broadcaster ATV was becoming a new company Central Independent Television. Central were obliged to continue ATV's commitment to Crossroads found it an embarrassment and wanted it gone. Firing Gordon was a deliberate attempt to sink the ratings and give them a reason to kill the show. They did not get their wish and the show remained for a number of years, with Gordon returning for two episodes in 1983. The series was revamped and renamed in 1985 as Crossroads Motel and would have featured Gordon in a recurring role, but she was too ill, and she died that year. The show was eventually cancelled in 1988.

Nolly has been commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama, Polly Hill who says "Russell's scripts are magnificent and a great tribute to Noele Gordon, but also to our national love of soaps and a celebration of the incredible women they create. Helena Bonham Carter is going to be amazing as Nolly and we can't wait for her to step into those shoes." The show is directed by Peter Hoar, who directed Devies' It's A Sin as well as The Last of Us and The Umbrella Academy). The show will be produced by Karen Lewis of Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax.

Nolly is intended to brings the true Noele Gordon once more into the spotlight. The Queen of the Midlands, a star who could be tough, haughty, and imperious, grandly sweeping into rehearsals from her Rolls Royce, but also a hard-working actress who was fiercely loyal and loved by cast and crew alike. And at last, the biggest question of all can be answered – why was she sacked? Nolly reveals the truth, the consequences, and the legacy of that terrible day.

The show is described as a bold exploration of how the establishment turns on women who refuse to play by the rules," the women it cannot understand and the women it fears. And it is a love letter to a legend of television, and to the madcap soap she starred in. Nolly is an outrageously fun and wildly entertaining ride through Noele Gordon's most tumultuous years, and a sharp, affectionate and heart-breaking portrait of a forgotten icon."

Crossroads was a British ITV soap opera which ran on ITV over two periods, the original 1964 to 1988 run, followed by a short revival from 2001 to 2003. Set in a fictional motel, revived as a hotel, in the Midlands, it was produced by Associated Television, then Central from 1982, and shot in its Birmingham studios.

The new show will air in 2022, as Russell T Davies will also be writing his return to Doctor Who in 2023, with a brand new Doctor, as part of Bad Wold Studios.

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.