Who’s Who in the Nolly drama

A guide to the main characters in Nolly, the drama from ITV and Quay Street Productions.


Noele Gordon and Helena Bonham Carter

Noele played Meg Richardson in the ATV soap opera Crossroads from 1964 to 1981. Nicknamed Nolly she had a television and stage career long before soap opera took over her working life for nearly 20 years.

From 1000 performances in the musical Brigadoon to studying television in America, pioneering daytime ITV and being the first woman to transmit, in motion, in colour to television screens, Noele became one of the best-known personalities in Britain in the 1970s. She racked up yearly award wins and often appeared on other shows ranging from Celebrity Squares to The Des O’Connor Show and Blankety Blank.

Noele had many romances over the years, including a twenty-year union with the married Val Parnell. But she never married. She came close in the 1940s but was dumped just before the wedding, this saw Nolly put her career first from that day onward.

In 1979 her mother, her only real companion, passed away and then in 1981 the show that had been created around her as the lead role was also taken from her life.

In Nolly, Noele is brought fabulously to life by the wonderful Helena Bonham Carter.


Jack Barton and Con O’Neill

The producer of Crossroads who took over from Reg Watson (Neighbours, The Young Doctors, Prisoner: Cell Block H) in late 1974.

Reg and Noele had worked as a team not just on the soap but prior on productions such as chat show Tea with Noele Gordon and the magazine show Lunch Box, Jack didn’t work in that format and resented ‘his programme’ being co-run by Noele. She, of course, saw the show as hers as it had been devised for her and the producers were the people who enabled it to get on the air.

Many disagreements and rows followed between 1974 and 1981 when Jack ‘had enough’ and went up to Charles Denton (ATV Head of Programmes) and asked if ATV could not renew Nolly’s contract. It came just weeks after the death of co-star Roger Tonge which had hit Noele hard. The timing also coincided with ATV soon to re-brand to Central and this made a convenient excuse, one that has still been used up until the drama was produced.

Jack Barton himself was dispatched from the series in 1984. In Nolly Jack is portrayed by Con O’Neill with Crossroads writer Arthur Schmit (Howard’s Way, All My Children, Santa Barbara) noting ‘[Barton] really was a prick, though he cared too passionately about the show. Russell T Davies and Con O’Neill got him to the life’


Charles Denton and Tim Wallers

Charles Denton joined ATV from the BBC in 1974; first as Head of Documentaries, progressing up to Head of Programmes in 1976. During this time he increased regional programming from Birmingham significantly and in 1979 tried to get Crossroads back on air five nights a week (It dropped from 5 to 4 in 1968). However, despite ATV and TV regulator research showing viewers wanted the show on five nights, the IBA regulator chopped it to three instead as they found it ‘distressingly popular’ and didn’t want one programme dominating ITV’s weekly Top 10 Programmes.

In 1981 Jack Barton went to the Head of Drama, at ATV, Margaret Matheson with his intention to write Meg out of Crossroads. She said such a decision needed to be agreed with Charles Denton, and so Jack met with Charles and said ‘This might surprise you Charles, but I want to write out Noele Gordon’. Denton backed his producer on the decision and made the public announcement.

Barton’s name wasn’t associated with Noele’s sacking until 1987 when the newspaper The Birmingham Mail first named him as the real person behind her departure. Noele herself never found out about Jack being the instigator of her dismissal. At the ATV staff party in December 1981 she sang ‘Say That We’re Sweethearts Again‘ to a photo of Charles Denton. Charles went on to oversee Drama at the BBC in the 1990s.

In Nolly, a much older portrayal of Charles – who was in his 40s at the time – is played by Tim Wallers.


Tony Adams and Augustus Prew

Tony was an established actor on the stage and TV by the time he joined Crossroads in 1978. He’d appeared in the musical Mame with Ginger Rogers in the West End, done a sketch with The Two Ronnies, popped up in Doctor Who made several appearances on Celebrity Squares, featured in the BBC’s adaption of the musical Kiss Me Kate, performed in Granada TV’s criminal justice series Crown Court and had a long-running role in both the daytime and primetime versions of ATV’s medial serial General Hospital.

As Adam Chance in the motel saga he was a confidant of Meg and in real life became part of Noele’s circle of friends. In the drama, several of Noele’s friends are condensed down into Tony’s character no doubt to save having to establish several other people in the plot lines.

Tony was with Noele when she got the call from Jack Barton confirming her contract with ATV was not being renewed and often took Noele out and about in Birmingham.

In the drama, Tony is played by Augustus Prew.

Nolly is available to stream now on ITVX and the STV Player.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *