Nolly: Russell T Davies and Helena Bonham Carter team up for ITVX drama about Crossroads legend Noele Gordon

The three-part series coming in 2023 will explore the reign and fall from grace of the soap actress dubbed the Queen of the Midlands.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 6 September 2022 - 5.12pm
Quay Street Productions/ITV Helen Bonham Carter in Nolly as Noele Gordon

After the phenomenal success of It’s A Sin and ahead of his highly-anticipated return to Doctor Who, Russell T Davies looks set to continue his hot streak with a drama about the inimitable Noele Gordon.

Forty years after Gordon’s shock sacking from ITV's Crossroads, the network and Davies are lifting the lid on the events surrounding her fall from grace.

The series will explain about the establishment “betrayed” the TV legend and Queen of the Midlands and the real reasons she was axed.

ITV has described the drama as a “sharp, affectionate and heart-breaking portrait of a forgotten icon”.

What is the true story of 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 was thrown out of the show that had been her life for more than 18 years.

“I've wanted to write the story of behind the scenes on Crossroads for 40 years. At last, the truth can be told!”
- Russell T Davies

The drama will explore how the establishment turns against women who don’t play by the rules, women it cannot understand the women it fears.

The series has been described as “a love letter to a legend of television, and to the madcap soap she starred in”. 

Writer Russell T Davies said: “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!”

Nolly cast

  • Helena Bonham Carter – Plays Noele ‘Nolly’ Gordon
  • Augustus Prew (The Morning Show, Rings of Power) – Plays Tony Adams, Nolly’s Crossroads co-star and devoted friend
  • Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, League of Gentleman) – Plays inimitable entertainer Larry Grayson
  • Richard Lintern (Young Wallender) – Plays Crossroads actor Ronnie Allen
  • Antonia Bernath (Downton Abbey) – Plays Crossroads actress Jane Rossington
  • Clare Foster (The Crown) – Plays Crossroads actress Sue Lloyd
  • Chloe Harris (Sherwood) – Plays Crossroads actress Susan Hanson
  • Lloyd Griffith (Ted Lasso) – Plays Crossroads actor Paul Henry, who played the famous role of handyman Benny
  • Con O’Neill (Happy Valley, Uncle) - Plays Jack Barton, producer of Crossroads
  • Tim Wallers (The Windsors, Belgravia) - Plays Barton’s boss, and ATV’s Controller of Programming, Charles Denton
  • Bethany Antonia (House of the Dragon, Stay Close, Get Even) - Plays Poppy Ngomo, a young actor in Crossroads

Academy Award nominee and star of The Crown and The King’s Speech Helena Bonham Carter leads the cast, playing the legendary Noele.

Russell T Davies' best shows

  • It’s A Sin (2021)
  • Years and Years (2019)
  • A Very English Scandal (2018)
  • Doctor Who (2005-2010)
  • Bob & Rose (2001)
  • Queer as Folk (1999)

“Noele Gordon was a fascinating, complex, brilliant and gutsy woman – none of which I knew before I read Russell T Davies’ script,” said the Harry Potter actress.

“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.”

ITV’s head of drama Polly Hill added: “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.”

Noele Gordon ITV

Who is making Nolly?

Nolly will be executive produced by Nicola Shindler (It’s A Sin, Ridley Road, Happy Valley, Finding Alice, Queer as Folk) and Russell T Davies.

The director is Peter Hoar (It’s A Sin, The Last of Us, The Umbrella Academy) and the producer is Karen Lewis (Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax).

Nolly is the 11th collaboration between Russell T Davies and Nicola Shindler.  The partnership  previously created classic series such as It’s A Sin, Years and Years, Queer As Folk, Casanova, Cucumber, Banana, Bob & Rose and The Second Coming.

When is Nolly released?

The three-part drama will be released on new streaming service ITVX in 2023.

It will air on ITV at a later date.

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