Oh Meg, what a confession to make!

‘I’d be absolutely hopeless at running a motel’


My favourite plot: Meg in Jail.

NOELE Gordon insists that there is nothing of a Meg Richardson in her at all.

“I’d be absolutely useless at running a place like Crossroads, I can’t cook and I haven’t a clue about coping with staff. I’d never dare to sack anybody for a start!”

Yet, as Meg, she has become a very real person to many thousands of families, with the programme’s popularity rising all the time. In May the 1,500th episode of Crossroads will be screened.

“I love it when people shout ‘Hello Meg’ across the street to me, but I get rather worried when they ask if they can book a table at the motel for their silver wedding anniversary, or when they send applications to be taken on as kitchen staff. As for the girls who write to say ‘I wish you were my mother’ – they wouldn’t half know about it if they were, poor things!”


“We all take Crossroads very seriously, and go to tremendous lengths to keep up the standard. It wouldn’t have been so successful otherwise. When you’re in it, life must revolve around it.

“Life must revolve around rehearsals and recording. Social life away from the other members of the cast is nil. I accept this, but I still remain Noele Gordon, actress. The fact that I play Meg Richardson four nights a week doesn’t alter me one scrap.”

Noele is not worried about being typecast. She was already an established actress before turning to television. Starting as a backroom girl advising on women’s programmes for ATV, she was called upon to present an emergency show in front of the cameras. This led to her becoming a regular TV hostess on many programmes before Crossroads was launched.

“Viewers who had seen me as myself quickly accepted me as Meg, so why worry about being typecast? I’m sort of a dual personality.”

As Meg Richardson Noele has a ‘life’ of only two-weeks at a time.

“We never know what’s going to happen to us. We play at guessing games among ourselves but we’re always wrong. I never even peep at my scripts until I start learning. If you’re in suspense like the viewers I believe the acting is fresher and you play the part slightly different.”

Learning lines presents little difficulty to Noele, for she has a photographic memory.

“I actually see the words of the script before my eyes. It’s quite a help.”

She adds, nodding her red hair vigorously.

“But television is never easy. We are under unbelievable stress and permanently keyed up. I never relax. Every night is like a first night.”

Life for Noele is made up of hurried journeys to and from the studios to her country home in Ross on Wye. Her working day often lasts from 9am until 8pm.

“It’s a good job I’m as strong as a horse, and never ill. I haven’t missed an episode of Crossroads except for holidays. But I fight a losing battle against putting on weight. The more I rush about and get overtired the more pounds I put on. I take off to a health farm twice a year.

“The food in the motel kitchen is real. Most delicious odours float across the set. Not long ago we did have a good feast. I was entertaining my daughter Jill’s future in-laws, do you remember?

“The old man tried to eat his prawn cocktail with the wrong spoon and got told off by his daughter. Those prawn cocktails were marvellous. We ate the lot up at dress rehearsals and they had to send out for more to record the scene.”


“We wear our own clothes, too. Unless there is something really extraordinary required. I choose my clothes with Meg in mind. The episodes that had the most impact was when I was in prison. The psychological effect of putting on prison clothes was so depressing and humiliating.

“All the same I was sorry when it was over, it was lovely to act.”

When Meg was in prison the switchboard of at least one Midland jail was jammed with viewers calling inquiring about Meg – though it was a men’s prison!

It was during this time that Beryl Johnstone who played Meg’s sister Kitty died. Noele Gordon went to the funeral with the rest of the cast, and 100s of people wrote thanking the prison for letting her out to attend.

“Lots of people were really upset when I didn’t marry Hugh Mortimer. They threatened never to watch Crossroads again I was rather disappointed myself, but if Meg married a wealthy man she could hardly go on running the motel could she? And I enjoyed being poisoned by Malcolm Ryder – that was wonderful! The truth is work is my pleasure and everything I do on television is an exciting challenge.”

Noele enjoying a brew.

Off duty, Noele loves retiring to her country home, where she enjoys a stint of gardening.

“Or I help my mother in the house. She offered me a new penny for a tip when I carried the coal yesterday.”

Noele recently found a new flat in Birmingham just a three-minute walk from the ATV Studios. She will now spend mid-week nights here, fortified by vast quantities of home made cooking supplied by her mother.

The flat is on the 32nd floor – the very top – of the highest block of flats in the country.

“I couldn’t bear to have someone walking on top of me, and I love heights. It’s just like flying up there.”

She remained calm, though inwardly tense through almost every situation. A puncture at speed when she was driving along the M1 recently in her car worried her a lot less than the thought that she would be late to the studios.

Two things make her mad, people’s obsession with age and those who spell her name incorrectly.

“No one knows my age. I’m 29 now and I’ll be 29 in ten years time. I shall die 29. What does it matter how old you are?

“As for my name I was born on Christmas Day and christened Noel. When I went on the stage everyone thought I was a boy so an ‘e’ was added.”

Noele is an indomitable figure, willing to undertake the most daring of feats for the sake of television or for her favourite charities.

For the programme ‘Noele Gordon Takes The Air’ she learned to fly a plane while she braved the fury of a Force Eight gale with the men of the Aberdeen RNLI. By day Noele’s life is fully occupied with her work in front of the camera. By night she has a formidable round of personal appearances and speaking engagements.

But around 6.35pm she reckons to put her feet up and watch television for a few minutes, it is ‘Crossroads time’.

Interview by Val Marriott. Featured in the Belfast Telegraph and The Leicester Chronicle.

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