She was once known as the “Queen of the Midlands,” the darling of the British establishment, and a familiar face to millions of TV viewers. Noele Gordon’s iconic role as Meg Mortimer in the long-running soap opera Crossroads made her one of the most famous people in Britain. But her sudden dismissal from the show in 1981 marked the end of an era, and the beginning of a tumultuous period for the beloved actress.
The Rise of Noele Gordon
Born in 1919 in East London, Noele Gordon was destined for the stage. After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she appeared in numerous West End productions before landing the role of Meg Mortimer in Crossroads in 1964. The show, set in a fictional motel in the Midlands, quickly became a ratings juggernaut, and Gordon’s character became a household name. She was soon receiving fan mail by the sackful and was even invited to Buckingham Palace to receive an OBE.
The Fall from Grace
But in 1981, at the height of the show’s success and the peak of her fame, Gordon was unceremoniously sacked from Crossroads. She was given no warning, no explanation, and no chance to say goodbye to her fans. The reason for her dismissal has never been officially confirmed, but it’s believed that tensions had been simmering between Gordon and the show’s producers for some time. Whatever the cause, Gordon was devastated by the decision and struggled to find work in the years that followed.
A Legacy Remembered
Despite the difficulties she faced in the later years of her life, Noele Gordon remained a beloved figure in British entertainment. She continued to work in theater and television, and her fans never forgot the warmth, charm, and talent that made her a star. When she died in 1985, thousands of mourners lined the streets of Coventry for her funeral procession. Today, she is remembered as one of the great icons of British television, a woman whose talent, dedication, and resilience helped make her a true national treasure.
Nolly: A Love Letter to a Legend
In 2021, a new book was published celebrating the life and legacy of Noele Gordon. Nolly: The Life and Times of Noele Gordon by Andrew Ross tells the story of her rise to fame, her years on Crossroads, and her struggles in the aftermath of her dismissal. The book offers a poignant, affectionate, and heartbreaking portrait of a forgotten icon, and a tribute to the magic of television that brought her into the nation’s homes for so many years.
1. Who is Noele Gordon and what was her iconic role in Crossroads?
2. When and why was Noele Gordon fired from Crossroads?
3. What is the book Nolly about and what can readers expect from it?
4. What impact did Noele Gordon have on British television and popular culture?
5. What was the significance of Crossroads as a television series and how did it contribute to the development of soap operas in the UK?