Show of the Week: Nolly

Fans of long-running UK soap Crossroads won’t fail to remember flame-haired widow Meg Richardson, portrayed by the inimitable Noele ‘Nolly’ Gordon.

Starring in the show from 1964 through to 1981, she grew to become its most popular character – and a TV icon for her role – though Nolly’s own life was no less dramatic than her fictional counterpart.

Helena Bonham Carter steps into the shoes of the actress, who held the spotlight as one of Britain’s biggest stars – until she was unceremoniously axed at the peak of her fame, without warning or explanation.

“Nolly was the most famous TV star of her time, yet she is mostly forgotten and her story is extraordinary. She was a powerhouse. The first woman ever on colour TV, a TV producer in the 1960s when that was extremely rare for a woman, invented British daytime TV, the first woman to interview a British Prime Minister. The list goes on,” reveals Nicola Shindler, exec producer and CEO of Quay Street Productions, which is behind the fact-based drama.

“The story of how she was sacked and then forgotten feels incredibly important at a time when we are re-evaluating the treatment of women in work by powerful men. And her story naturally lends itself to humour and warmth, which Russell writes so well.”

It’s A Sin and Doctor Who scribe Russell T Davies has written the three-part series, which explores Nolly’s most tumultuous years and the legacy of her shocking fall from grace.

“Nolly’s actual story is so extraordinary with such dramatic twists and turns, we didn’t feel the need to invent more than a single beat of the story,” says Shindler. “It was inherently dramatic and entertaining. Of course, Russell has shaped her real-life experiences to fit our three-part series but barely invented anything.”

Shindler adds that having Bonham Carter attached to play the lead “brings a star quality that Nolly had in abundance,” and describes her performance as “powerful and funny, with a cheeky regality that is perfect for Nolly.”

However, despite the warmth and humour of the series, Shindler explains that Nolly’s story sums up the often fickle nature of fame: However powerful or invincible one can feel, that can all be taken away in a moment’s decision by men in power. It’s fleeting.”

Augustus Prew (The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power), Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) and Richard Lintern (Young Wallander) also join the cast, portraying real-life stars of the era.

Producer: Quay Street Productions

Distributor: ITV Studios

Broadcaster: ITV & ITVX (UK)

Logline: Helena Bonham Carter steps into the shoes of the inimitable Noele ‘Nolly’ Gordon in this sharp, affectionate and heartbreaking portrait of a forgotten icon