Forty years after Noele Gordon’s shock sacking from Crossroads, Nolly has arrived on our screens.
The three-part drama, starring Academy Award-nominated and BAFTA-winning actor Helena Bonham Carter, shines a spotlight on 1980s TV icon Noele Gordon, 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 from Crossroads so abruptly? Nolly reveals the truth, the consequences, and the legacy of that terrible day.
Speaking of the show, ITV Head of Drama Polly Hill 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.”
Nolly has been written by BAFTA-winning writer Russell T Davies, known for his work on It’s A Sin, Years and Years, A Very English Scandal, and Queer as Folk. Speaking of Nolly, Russell says: “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!”
- Fact vs Fiction: Nolly — what happened to Noele Gordon?
- When did Crossroads air? All your questions about the iconic soap answered
Nolly release date
Nolly arrived in the UK on ITVX in February 2023 and is still available to stream if you missed it.
The drama will also air on PBS Masterpiece on Sunday, March 17, 2024 9/8c.
The ITV drama was also accompanied by a documentary entitled The Real Nolly which is also available on ITVX.
What is the plot of Nolly?
As well as delving into the past to find out why Noele Gordon was sacked from Crossroads without warning, this drama is also 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. The drama is also a love letter to a legend of television, and to the madcap soap she starred in.
An ITV press statement adds: "Nolly is an outrageously fun and wildly entertaining ride through Noele Gordon’s most tumultuous years and a sharp, affectionate and heartbreaking portrait of a forgotten icon."
Who was Noele Gordon?
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.
Who is in the cast of Nolly?
Speaking of her role, Helena said: “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.”
There's a hefty star-studded cast joining Helena, including Augustus Prew (The Morning Show, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power) as Nolly's Crossroads co-star, Tony Adams, who was a devoted friend, confidante and her occasional chauffer.
Alongside him is Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, League of Gentleman, Doctor Who), will be playing unique entertainer Larry Grayson, who also had a close bond with Nolly.
Other cast members include Richard Lintern (Young Wallander, Silent Witness) as Ronnie Allen, who played Crossroads’ suave hotel manager David Hunter, Antonia Bernath (Downton Abbey, Dickensian) as Jane Rossington, who was in Crossroads as Jill Richardson, Meg’s daughter and Clare Foster (The Crown, The Ex Wife) as Sue Lloyd, who played Barbara, wife of hotel manager David.
In addition, Chloe Harris (Sherwood, The Spanish Princess) will be playing Susan Hanson, who played Crossroads fan-favourite Miss Diane and Lloyd Griffith (Ted Lasso, It’s A Sin) as Paul Henry, who for over a decade played handyman Benny in Crossroads.
Con O’Neill (Happy Valley, Uncle) will also be joining the cast as Jack Barton, producer of Crossroads, and Tim Wallers (The Windsors, Belgravia) will portray Barton’s boss, and ATV’s Controller of Programming, Charles Denton.
Is there a trailer for Nolly?
Yes! The UK trailer sees Helena transformed into TV star Nolly for the drama and opens with Nolly being briefed about her sudden departure from her job, with an advisor telling her that she should tell the press that it was her decision to leave... but unfortunately, that isn't quite how she words it to the reporters!
There is also a trailer released for US audiences, which you can see below...
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Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia.
After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off.
She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz!
As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.