ITV initially commissioned the series Nolly, written by Doctor Who and It’s A Sin showrunner Russell T. Davies in November 2021. The three-part drama series, produced by Nicola Shindler’s new Quay Street Production, would focus on the inimitable Noele Gordon, a British TV legend who rose to fame on the soap opera Crossroads and by the 1960s had become known as the Queen of the Midlands, and the darling of the TV establishment. But as with most female stars, the system that made her turned on Nolly and betrayed her, firing her from the series at the height of its ratings popularity.
From the first, Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown) was attached to star the titular soap opera star, who was a massive celebrity in the U.K. for three decades but little known outside British tabloid culture. Davies told The Radio Times Nolly is “about the mechanics of TV and the whims of TV and the cruelty of it, but in the end the love of it. It’s very much a story of how women are treated by the industry,” he said. “The problems that women have with men are not only sexual problems – men have power and authority and tempers and whims on a level that goes far beyond the sexual.”
Because of the material and the show’s subject, Nolly seemed destined to land on BritBox in the U.S. (BritBox UK was rolled into ITVX.) Seeing it picked up by PBS means the series will get far more comprehensive recognition and word of mouth. (And awards accolades for Bonham Carter.) However, very few younger American viewers know who Nolly was, let alone the British soap opera Crossroads, so it remains to be seen how it does.
Here's the show's official synopsis:
Noele (or Nolly to her friends) was a legend in her own lifetime. As flame-haired widow Meg Richardson in the long-running 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 Nolly’s fame, she was axed without ceremony, without warning and with no explanation. With the boss’s words “all good things must come to an end” ringing in her ears, Noele Gordon found herself thrown out of the show that was her life for over 18 years.
Bonham Carter is joined by an all-star cast, including Augustus Prew (The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power) as Tony Adams, Nolly’s Crossroads co-star, and Mark Gatiss (Sherlock) as entertainer Larry Grayson. Con O’Neill (Happy Valley) is Jack Barton, producer of Crossroads, and Tim Wallers (Belgravia) plays Barton’s boss and ATV’s Controller of Programming, Charles Denton. Richard Lintern (Young Wallander), Antonia Bernath (Downton Abbey), Clare Foster (The Ex-Wife), Chloe Harris (Sherwood), Bethany Antonia (House of the Dragon), and Lloyd Griffith (Ted Lasso) fill out the roster of Crossroads co-stars. Peter Hoar (The Umbrella Academy) directed all episodes.
Nolly will debut on ITV's streaming service, ITVX, with all episodes and is expected to follow on ITV later this spring. Nolly does not yet have a PBS release date.