Fortunately my relationship with Richard Du Vivier had faded away naturally, so no-one was hurt. The London house
was up for sale and since we both wanted to live in different areas afterwards, we'd agreed to part when our home was sold.
As for Ronnie's past life, it didn't worry me at all. I was lucky enough to have been brought up in a family which didn't
believe in pigeon-holing people. We accepted friends and family for what they were.
When I was at the Royal Ballet School, I was surrounded by a lot of guys who were gay or bisexual, and then in the sixties
and seventies there was a tremendous amount of experimentation going on. So with Ronnie I was unconcerned. Whatever
choices he had made in the past were his business. They didn't affect me. What mattered was the relationship between
us now, and that was the happiest I'd ever known. I couldn't doubt that Ronnie loved me, and I knew that I made him
Later he confided that he thought he might have gone mad with grief if I hadn't come along. He was so wound up
he was like an unexploded bomb. What made it worse was that he was such a private, reserved person. He couldn't
confide in others easily, neither could he embark on shallow affairs. He was very selective about partners. He
didn't fall in love easily, but when he did he was totally devoted.
For quite a while we tried to keep our relationship a secret, but the chemistry between us was becoming so obvious on
screen that it was very difficult to hide. What's more, Ronnie's character, David Hunter, was having a romance with
my character Barbara, and our love scenes were growing daily more passionate.
Eventually the truth came out, the papers printed the story and we had to admit it was true. Fortunately, the fans
seemed to approve and Jack Barton breathed a sigh of relief. In fact, the screen affair went so well that it culminated
in what the press called the Screen Wedding of the Year.
I don't know whether this screen wedding put ideas into Ronnie's head, but it wasn't long afterwards that he proposed.
We were having a much needed break from filming. I'd gone to visit my family in Aldeburgh, and Ronnie had flown to Majorca,
an island he loved, for a little sunshine. As always when we were apart, we phoned each other every day, and one particular
day Ronnie said, 'This is rediculous. Will you marry me?'
At various times in my life those were words I longed to hear and didn't; at other times in my life those were words
I heard and wished I hadn't. Somehow, either the time wasn't right or the relationship wasn't right, and I had never
married. Yet now, standing alone in my mother's house in Aldeburgh, hundreds of miles away from the man in my life,
I knew the time was absolutely right.
I was visiting a friend in London on my day off when we turned on the news, and heard the announcer say that Noele Gordon
had been sacked from Crossroads. I was absolutely stunned. I couldn't believe it. They said something about
a dispute with a contract, but I'm afraid I didn't believe that either.
I phoned Ronnie and he told me that, yes, it was true, Noele had been sacked. The whole cast was in shock.
The papers were full of awful pictures of Noele in dark glasses, her head down, tensely smoking cigarettes. As soon
as I got back to the studios, I huuried over to her. Other people you might have hugged, but not Noele. She was
a dignified, proud woman who didn't suffer fools gladly. She was not the cuddly type and wouldn't have wanted pity.
'Noele,' I said. 'I can't believe it!'
Noele nodded. 'No, I can't believe it either,' she said. 'But all good things come to an end.' She put
on a very brave face. She remained dignified to the end. Before she died, not long afterwards, of cancer of the
stomach, which I'm convinced was brought on by the stress of leaving the show she loved so much, she warned Ronnie and I to
watch our backs.