Article from the News of The World June 28th, 1981
I have been worrying for months that ATV were trying to banish me from Crossroads. I was suspicious,
but I had no proof.
Crossroads consists of regular story lines or plots. Each of our thrice-weekly episodes can contain
three or four of these plots, running consecutively. In the seventeen years that I have been on the programme I have
featured in most of them.
For the past eighteen months or so, even though I have still been playing the principal character of Meg Mortimer,
I have found that I have had less and less to do before the cameras.
Each Monday, when I arrived at our rehearsal rooms in Bradford Street, Birmingham, I would be handed my script.
I used to glance through it and each week my heart sank. Meg Mortimer had little or nothing to do. I might as
well have stayed at home.
I decided to tackle Jack Barton, who produced the show, and to ask him for more action.
"Don't worry love," he told me. "Just be patient, darling. In a few weeks time you'll be complaining
Then three weeks ago, Michael Summerton, who looks after my business affairs, went to see Charles Denton,
ATV's Controller of Programmes, at the company's branch office among the restaurants of Charlotte Street, just off London's
Tottenham Court Road.
Michael was there by appointment to discuss my contract, which expires at the end of the year. He expected
a routine meeting concerning a new contract. Instead Mr Denton delivered the bombshell ... I was to be sacked and
given six months' notice.
"Our new plans for Crossroads mean that Meg must leave the show," declared Denton. "But all good
things must sometime come to an end."
Michael was stunned. He phoned me in Birmingham to tell me what had happened and he added that Mr Denton's
attitude towards me had been incredibly cold and almost clinical. He had spoken of my dismissal as though he was reading
a weather report.
But, in informing Michael that I had been dismissed, he offered to make an appointment to see me personally.
"No chance," I told my manager. "I'm not pleading with him. If he sacked me, what's the point?"
As Michael went on to tell me the situation, I couldn't fully grasp what he was saying. Although, as
I've explained, I'd been suspicious that maybe I was being eased out.
I never expected to be fired in such a cold humiliating manner, especially with the inclusion of Mr
Denton's observation that 'all good things must come to an end.'
This seemed to imply that all my hard work over the years and commitment to the company had been one long
party. I phoned Jack Barton to ask what it was all about. And then I had an even greater shock.
Mr Barton - who has been producing the show since the departure of Reg Watson, the original Crossroads producer,
in 1974 - confirmed the situation. In fact he must have known something was going on for some while.
He told me that Mr Denton had sent for him and asked him point blank 'Can you produce Crossroads without Noele
"And what did you say Jack?" I asked him quietly.
"I told him I could."
I put the phone down in tears. I was shattered. I poured out a glass of wine but I was too upset
to drink it. It seemed to me my departure had obviously been carefully planned for weeks before. And the
man with whom I had worked so closely for nine years had done nothing to save me.
Could I have been right? Could my intended sacking have been the real reason why I had been frozen out
of the various plots currently in the Crossroads scene?
Could it be that Jack Barton had deliberately instructed his scriptwriting team to keep me off the screen
except for the odd appearance?
By this time I was shaking. The tears flowed. I cried all night.
For, whatever you may think of me as an assured self-possessed actress on TV, away from the sudios I
am an ordinary woman with the same feelings and emotions as anyone else.