In my despair I turned to Tony Adams, my co-star and close friend - he plays Adam Chance, who is in love with Jill, my
"Please come over Tony," I sobbed over the phone. "I've had some terrible news."
Tony was soon ringing my doorbell and I told him what had happened. He was as shocked as I was.
"There is only one thing to do," he advised. "You must appeal to Lew Grade."
Now I have known Lord Grade for over thirty years. Originally he had an office with his brother, Leslie, in Charing
Cross Road and he had been my agent. He has been a personal friend and adviser to me long before commercial television
I have made many personal appearances for him and his wife, Kathy, at various charity functions. He has always made
a tremendous fuss of me on these occasions, arranging for me to stay in a luxury hotel, with flowers in my suite, and
providing a chauffeur-driven car. I received the star treatment.
Just under two years ago, when I found my weekly appearances in Crossroads gave me so little free time, I'd gone to Lew
and told him if I didn't have a break - I'd have to quit the show.
Lew was horrified. "No, I'll give you three months off," he told me. "You can have a month's holiday, another
month in Australia and then we will write a play or a light entertainment TV Special for you. I will not let you go
for a year. Crossroads would be unthinkable without you. You are the only star that ATV has got. Is that
young man outside your agent?"
I told Lew that he was. "All right then," he said. "Bring him in."
Michael Summerton then joined us and Lew explained the terms of my new contract. I came out from that meeting feeling
ten feet tall.
For some while Lord Grade has not had anything to do with the day-to-day running of ATV's Midland studios.
But he still remains a power behind the scenes and his views and advice are respected throughout the company.
However, because of our long friendship, I didn't feel I could involve him personally in our troubles. Instead,
I asked my manager, Michael, to contact him and explain the position. I was naive enough to think that perhaps Lew didn't
know what was going on.
But when Michael tackled Lord Grade, he made it quite clear that he was well acquainted with the fact that I had been
"Michael, I'm told there's been a difficulty over money," Lord Grade informed him. Michael was aghast.
"But Lew," he said, "money was never discussed. I was just told that Noele was not to be offered a new contract
under any circumstances."
Lew replied: "Leave it with me for seven days. I'll see what can be done."
I took heart at this. But then a couple of days later Michael received my official dismissal in writing, on ATV
notepaper, from programme controller Denton. Nothing had changed.
Michael then made another appraoch. Lew again pointed out he no longer had anything to do with the Midlands TV
operation. But he said he would consult his deputy, Jack Gill and David Windleham, ATV's managing director and Charles
Denton's immediate boss. This gave me some hope - but not much.
All this time rumours were buzzing round the studios as to what was happening. Most of the cast must have suspected
that I had been given notice, though none of them mentioned it to me. None of them was certain, and the only actor who
knew my secret was Tony Adams.
What to do? We both agreed that for the time being it was better to say nothing. So for a whole two weeks,
I turned up at the rehearsal rooms and the studios knowing I had been dismissed.
I looked around the rest of the cast every day. Every time they whispered together I wondered how many, if any,
knew it too.
Inquiries were being made at ATV's Press office, but they denied all knowledge of the situation. So did Michael
Summerton, who had decided that as long as there was hope we should wait until we heard the result of our final appeal to