The immortal Crossroads soap star Noele Gordon returns to screens in this biopic drama starring Helena Bonham Carter
By Charlotte Briggs, Writer
Noele Gordon (or Nolly to her friends) was a force to be reckoned with. Starring as staunch widow Meg Richardson in one of ITV’s most popular shows to date, she was beloved by the nation and appeared to have the whole world at her feet. But all good things must come to an end – or at least that’s what Gordon’s boss said when she was unceremoniously axed from her role after 18 years of devotion!
This nostalgic three-part drama follows the trials and tribulations of the woman known as the “Queen of the Midlands”, exploring Gordon’s life and legacy through the acting chops of Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown). Augustus Prew (The Rings Of Power) and Richard Lintern (Silent Witness) play Nolly’s Crossroads co-stars Tony Adams and Ronnie Alan, while Mark Gatiss (Dr Who) stars as legendary entertainer and friend Larry Grayson.
The brainchild of It’s A Sin creator Russell T Davies, this extraordinary story is bound to be a compelling watch and sobering reminder of the highs and lows that come with fame and fortune.
You can watch Nolly from Thursday 2 February exclusively on ITVX, along with a documentary about the soap star icon, The Real Nolly, available on the same day on ITVX. These two terrific tributes will also screen on ITV1 later this year.
Never heard of Noele Gordon? Born in East Ham (then in Essex, now part of London) on Christmas Day 1919, Gordon was a pioneer of her time and a woman of firsts. We’ve dived into the archives of her career for a quick lesson on how the star came to be one of the most famous faces in Britain…
1938: First TV appearance
Gordon’s first official telly gig was a role in a BBC version of Eugene O’Neill’s play Ah! Wilderness! as a maid. During filming she burnt her fingers on her prop tray under the harsh studio lighting.
1941: West End debut
Gordon made her West End debut in Cole Porter’s Let’s Face It with Bobby Howes. She later starred in other stage productions such as the huge hit Brigadoon, in which she appeared more than 1,000 times, and became the first actress to star across two West End shows simultaneously.
1945: First film appearance
After World War II Gordon made her silver screen debut in a small role as neighbour Mrs Wilson in 29 Acacia Avenue, starring Gordon Harker and Carla Lehmann. She also appeared in the 1946 film adaptation of the play Lisbon Story, playing the same role she had on stage – one that had been written specifically for her.
1955: TV success
After studying television production in the US, Gordon was appointed the UK’s first female TV executive at ATV, based in the Midlands. As well as overseeing production of lifestyle shows, she went on to host ITV’s first chat show Tea With Noele Gordon and the first daily live chat show Lunchbox.
1957: Acting success
Gordon took on a supporting role alongside a young Beryl Reid in The Most Likely Girl, playing friend and neighbour Eve, a friend and neighbour to Reid’s Arethusa.
1958: Current affairs
During her time as a reporter for ATV News, she became the first woman to interview a British Prime Minister – Harold MacMillan.
Gordon’s talk show Lunchbox had been renamed Hi-T and moved to a teatime slot – and in 1964 it was replaced by a new soap opera: Crossroads, the first full-length daily serial on British television. Gordon appeared from the first episode as Meg Richardson (later Meg Mortimer), becoming an icon among soap fans. Over the next 18 years she won more awards than any other television actress.
1974: Royal Variety Performance
Gordon hosted the Royal Variety Performance – the first woman to do so – at the London Palladium, having appeared in the show back in 1949 as part of the cast of Brigadoon.
1981: Sacked from Crossroads
ITV execs reportedly hoped that removing the still-popular Gordon would drive viewers away so they could cancel the soap and redirect funds to more high-end dramas. But Crossroads’ popularity endured, and Gordon – as well as reviving her theatre career – returned as a guest star in 1983.
When is ITVX’s Nolly streaming?
You’ll find all three episodes of Nolly in Apps & Games > ITVX on Thursday 2 February along with The Real Nolly, a documentary about the soap star.
How to access ITVX on Virgin TV
To find ITVX on your Virgin TV 360 box or Stream, simply go to the ITVX app. If you have a V6 box, powered by TiVo®, go to Apps & Games > ITVX. For more information, click here.
Please note, if you watch TV on a TiVo® box, you do not have access to the ITVX app and will continue to access ITV content through the Catch Up menu and in search. Nolly will be shown on ITV1 later in the year.
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