Russell T Davies: Nolly is “revenge” for losing out on Crossroads job
The acclaimed screenwriter came painfully close to joining the soap.
Russell T Davies has described ITVX drama Nolly as his "revenge" for losing the chance to write for soap opera Crossroads in its twilight years.
The three-part series stars Helena Bonham Carter as Noele 'Nolly' Gordon, who became famous up and down the country for her 18-year portrayal of Crossroads Motel owner Meg Mortimer.
When she was abruptly sacked in 1981, it made front-page news and provoked an outcry from devoted fans, including Davies himself, who "loved" the show and followed the developments avidly as they unfolded.
At a launch event for Nolly, Davies spoke about how he nearly joined the Crossroads writers' room himself at the age of 23, but alas, his dream of writing for the show was snatched away at the last moment.
He began: "The producer of Crossroads, William Smethurst, did an interview in The Guardian, where he said: ‘We’re looking for new writers because we can't get anyone to write this, because people think it’s rubbish.’ [That was] an actual interview.
"I thought, ‘I can do that, I can write rubbish!’ But I genuinely loved it... and I applied for a job and I visited the set – and I got very, very close. I wrote a trial script for them – and then the programme was axed."
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Davies went on to explain that he was given no advance warning of the Crossroads cancellation, instead finding out the same way everybody else did.
He added: "I literally walked into a newsagent one morning, and every single newspaper said 'Crossroads axed', like a public sacking. And so when I, finally, 35 years later, got to write ‘Interior: Crossroads motel (day)’, it was like revenge!"
Nolly is sure to bring back memories for Crossroads fans as it features a loving recreation of the soap opera set, complete with its shaky walls and ringing phone – which Davies was quick to have a go on as filming got under way.
Crossroads was cancelled in March 1988, with its popularity damaged by the loss of Gordon and other cast favourites, but the soap made a short-lived return to schedules in 2001 when ITV staged an ambitious revival.