Helena Bonham Carter is to star as Crossroads actress Noele Gordon in a three-part ITV drama exploring her rise and fall.

Gordon, known to her friends as Nolly, played widow Meg Richardson in the long-running soap between 1964 and 1981, when she was sacked unexpectedly.

ITV describes the drama 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”.

Virgin Media BAFTA TV Awards 2021 – Arrivals – London
Helena Bonham Carter (Ian West/PA)

The episodes will show how Gordon was both “tough, haughty and imperious” but also hard-working and “fiercely loyal” – and why she was sacked one day.

In 1985, new Crossroads producer Phillip Bowman was reportedly planning to bring back the character of Richardson.

However, Gordon died in April that year at the age of 65 with stomach cancer.

Russell T Davies, whose credits include Doctor Who and It’s A Sin, has written the script and Peter Hoar will direct.

Russell T Davies to return to Dr Who
Russell T Davies (Jane Barlow/PA)

Bafta winner Bonham Carter said: “Noele Gordon was a fascinating, complex, brilliant and gutsy woman – none of which I knew before I read Russell T Davies’ script.

“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.”

Davies said: “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. At last, the truth can be told!”

The series will be produced by Quay Street Productions, the first drama under Nicola Shindler’s new production banner with ITV Studios.

Shindler said: “I couldn’t be prouder or more excited that the first drama we will be filming for Quay Street Productions is this beautiful script by Russell T Davies.

“And that Helena Bonham Carter will star as such an iconic British woman is dream casting.”

Production on Nolly will begin in 2022.