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Russell T. Davies may be heading back to the TARDIS next year when he returns as showrunner of Doctor Who, but the BAFTA-winning writer behind It’s a Sin, Years and Years and A Very English Scandal has another TV miniseries up his sleeve before then.
Nolly, commissioned by ITV, will explore the rise and fall of Noele Gordon, one of the most famous faces on British TV in the 1960s and 1970s. Helena Bonham Carter will star as Gordon in the three-part series, which was written by Davies and is being produced by Quay Street Productions, the new ITV Studios-backed banner from Davies’ long-term collaborator Nicola Shindler, who produced most of his TV shows, dating back to Queer as Folk, at her previous company Red Productions. Nolly will mark Quay Street’s first drama.
“Noele Gordon was a fascinating, complex, brilliant and gutsy woman – none of which I knew before I read Russell T. Davies’ script,” said Bonham Carter. “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.”
Gordon (or Nolly to her friends) was a legend in her own lifetime. As flame-haired widow Meg Richardson in the long-running British soap opera Crossroads, she was one of the most famous people in Britain. Then in 1981, at the height of the show’s success and the peak of her fame, she was axed without ceremony, without warning and with no explanation. With the boss’ words “all good things must come to an end” ringing in her ears, Gordon found herself thrown out of the show that had been her life for over 18 years.
“One of my very first jobs in TV was a trial script for Crossroads, and I’ve wanted to write the story of behind the scenes on that show for 40 years,” said Davies. “At last, the truth can be told!”
Nolly is described as a “bold exploration of how the establishment turns on women who refuse to play by the rules, the women it cannot understand and the women it fears.” It’s also billed as a “love letter to a legend of television, and to the madcap soap she starred in.”
“Russell’s scripts are magnificent and a great tribute to Noele Gordon, but also to our national love of soaps and a celebration of the incredible women they create,” said ITV’s head of drama, Polly Hill, who commissioned Nolly. “Helena Bonham Carter is going to be amazing as Nolly and we can’t wait for her to step into those shoes.”
Nolly will go into production in 2022 and is executive produced by Shindler (It’s A Sin, Ridley Road, Happy Valley, Finding Alice, Queer as Folk) and Davies. The director is Peter Hoar (It’s A Sin, The Last of Us, The Umbrella Academy), while the producer is Karen Lewis (Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax).
The series is produced in association with, and distributed by, ITV Studios.
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