Noele Gordon: Trailblazing Crossroads actress played by Helena Bonham Carter in new ITVX drama Nolly

A three-part drama on ITVX is set to document the controversial departure of late actress Noele Gordon from popular soap Crossroads.

ITVX's latest drama, Nolly, is set to hit our screens on Thursday 2 February.

But who is Nolly and why is she significant to the Midlands?

Who is Noele Gordon?

Noele Gordon, also known as Nolly, was famous for her acting in Crossroads in the 1980s, and was dubbed the 'Queen of the Midlands.'

She was controversially sacked from the soap in 1981.

The actress won awards including ITV personality of the year, most compelling character, and Best Actress between 1968 and 1981.

Noele Gordon died on 14 April, 1985.

In the ITVX drama, Helena Bonham Carter plays Noele Gordon playing Meg Mortimer - her character in Crossroads.

Helena Bonham Carter in Venice while shooting Nolly Credit: PA IMAGES


Crossroads was one of ITV's (formally ATV) most popular soap operas in the 1980s, starring Noele Gordon as Meg Richardson for more than 18 years.

The show aired five times a week, and told the story of the adventures of a fictional motel owner, son, daughter and her staff - with all episodes filmed exactly to time, meaning there were few opportunities for retakes.

The cast of Crossroads: Sue Hanson, Paul Henry, Roger Tonge, Noele Gordon, Ronald Allen, Jane Rossington and Joy Andrews Credit: PA IMAGES

The show - which began in 1964 and finished in 1988, with a revival from 2001 to 2003 - had as many as 15 million viewers.

How the ITVX's Nolly explores the mistreatment of women:

Noele Gordon was credited as the first woman to be seen on colour television sets.

Amongst her many talents of performing and producing TV, she was historically the first woman to interview a prime minister.

But, in 1981, at the height of the Crossroads' success, she was sacked from the show without warning.

Fans of Crossroads watch two of the stars Noele Gordon and John Bentley arrive at Birmingham Cathedral for the filming of their 'marriage'. Credit: PA IMAGES

ITVX's Nolly writer Russell T. Davies explained that in the industry she was depicted as a "diva" and a "show monster".

But the writer says previous cast members suggested otherwise and that the real story was that Nolly was mistreated and bullied due to her success and authenticity.

Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Nolly, told ITVX: “Nolly was a company leader, she was strong, hardworking and a professional - she expected everyone around her to be the same… men dictate how women are perceived and the show really puts that into light and tackles those conversations.”

Helena Bonham Carter who plays Nolly in the ITVX series Credit: ITVX

What will viewers see?

The show has been described as "almost an exclusive backstage pass to Crossroads". People who watch the show will be taken back in time, into the world of soaps in the 80s.

Viewers will see everything that happens behind the scenes of a soap, from script briefings, rehearsals and live recordings. 

And at last, the biggest question of all can be answered – why was Nolly sacked?

Click here to watch Nolly on ITVX