A BRAND new Russell T Davies drama about the rise and fall of Wye Valley soap star Noele Gordon has been launched for streaming.
It stars Bafta-winning actress Helena Bonham-Carter, who is well known by Harry Potter fans for her role as Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows among others.
Nolly is the story of the Crossroads legend, who became a huge star only to be axed without explanation from the hit soap at the height of her fame.
The three-part series was launched last night (Thursday, February 2) on ITVX, and is set to hand Davies – creator of Aids-era drama It’s A Sin starring the Forest’s Olly Alexander – another huge hit.
Noele, who lived just outside Ross-on-Wye at Weir End beside the A40 died four years after her axing and is buried beside her mother in the town’s St Mary’s churchyard.
As flame-haired widow Meg Richardson in Crossroads, she was one of Britain’s most famous people in the 1960s and 70s.
The makers of the new series say she was 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”.
But in 1981, at the height of the show’s success and the peak of Nolly’s fame, she was axed at the age of 61, “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 found herself thrown out of the show that was her life for 18 years.
She died from cancer four years later and hundreds attended her funeral in Ross, including Crossroads cast members and stars like close friend Larry Grayson.
Noele had been due to star in a relaunch of the soap later that year, but it was never to be.
ITN reported that her funeral was for ‘The Queen Of British Soaps’, while a memorial service later at Birmingham Cathedral was attended by stars like Roy Hudd, Bob Monkhouse, Russell Harty, Larry Grayson, Danny La Rue, Terry Wogan, Max Bygraves and Nicholas Parsons.
As well as a star of stage and screen, Noele Gordon was also a TV reporter in the late 1950s for ATV News, scooping the first ever interview of a Prime Minister by a woman in 1958 when she sat down with Harold Macmillan.
In an incredible career, she was credited as the first person to be seen as a moving image on colour TV in 1938.
Alongside many early acting roles, she hosted ITV’s first chat show, Tea with Noele Gordon, and later, Lunchbox. She was also ITV’s first female sports presenter as the host of Midland Sport, produced several shows, and became an ATV executive.
Nolly star Bonham-Carter 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...
“I feel she was cut off in her prime. I feel like championing her, I’m championing every woman of a certain age.”
Nolly will also air on ITV at a later date.