Helena Bonham Carter has signed on to play one of Britain’s forgotten soap opera stars in a new limited series titled Nolly from Russell T. Davies (It’s A Sin).
The show will focus around the reign and fall from grace of TV legend Noele Gordon, who was a mainstay on long-running ITV soap opera Crossroads for 18 years until she was unceremoniously fired.
Known as the Queen of the Midlands, Gordon had a reputation as a tough and haughty actor who would sweep into rehearsals from a Rolls Royce, but was beloved by cast and crew. Her Crossroads firing in 1981 sparked a public outcry that created such pressure on the writing team that an alternative ending had to be written for her character, Meg Mortimer.
Producer Nicola Shindler told Variety:
“What’s extraordinary is that this woman was at the absolute peak of the powers — and this was the biggest show in the country — and she was fired without any kind of explanation, and without any kind of right to respond. In a post-#MeToo world, it’s fantastic to look at the theories and to examine what she [went through] at the time, and the way that she was treated, and how that was acceptable.”
Bonham Carter admitted she hadn’t previously heard of Gordon prior to reading Davies’ script, but was drawn to her public struggle as a woman battling sexism in the industry:
“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.”
The series will be a three-part drama for ITV that Peter Hoar, who also worked on It’s A Sin, will direct. The show has the chance to be an interesting mix of examining sexism in the industry while also exploring the impact of soap operas on the British public. Production is expected to begin in 2022.