I was a staff member of ATV on a very low salary and I hadn't had a rise for seven years. They used to give me
perks, a television set and secretarial services, but all the actors in Crossroads were earning a great deal more money than
I pointed this out and stressed that I was working five days a week flat out, but ATV refused to increase my salary.
I had no alternative but to send a letter of resignation, telling them that as they had not given me any increase,
I would be leaving the company.
Somehow the Press got hold of the news and put it on their front pages. This caused a similar rumpus to the present
row over my sacking.
ATV's switchboard was jammed; sackfuls of letters kept arriving, pleading with me to stay, and crowds gathered outside
the studio to make their protests.
I had to get away from it all so I took my mother to Tunisia on holiday. By the time I came back, ATV had decided
that Meg should stay with Crossroads after all. I got my increase in salary, my appearances were cut to give me a day
off, and naturally I was very pleased with the final outcome.
It was, of course, the outcry from my fans that had persuaded ATV to climb down. Their loyalty touched me deeply
and I made a solemn promise which was widely reported at the time that as Crossroads was as much part of my life as it was
theirs, I would never leave.
This is why I now want my millions of friends who have made me so very welcome in their homes to know the truth.
It is not I who has left Crossroads, it is Crossroads which has left me.
This past week the reaction of the public has been very similar, even identical. A woman came up to me in the street
yesterday and said: "Forgive me, but I had to speak to you. When you leave I'll never watch Crossroads again."
ATV have admitted the circumstances of my departure and I have been overwhelmed throughout last week with messages
of sympathy and good luck for my future.
When I turned up for rehearsals on Monday a crowd of women fans were waiting for me in the street.
"Good old Noele," they shouted, "Don't leave us." "It's out of my hands," I had to tell them. "There's
nothing I can do."
I've had flowers from most of the cast and there was a lovely bunch from Larry Grayson. Derek Hobson has phoned
his good wishes, a reminder of the days when I used to be a panellist on his New Faces programme.
A 'Save Our Meg' campaign has been launched by The Sun and I'm told that more than 5,000 readers have written begging
for me to stay in the show. A friend tells me Birmingham Corporation are considering an official protest to ATV.
"You've done so much for the Midlands," Mr Vic Turton, an ex Lord Mayor, told me.
I managed to put on a brave face before the ITN and BBC news cameras but as you can see from the pictures they took
and my appearance in the ITV news bulletins, I was badly shaken.
At rehearsals on Monday the Crossroads cast all crowded around to comfort me. I I began to cry again and soon others
were weeping with me. It was a very emotional moment for us all. They told me they had talked among themselves
before I arrived and had decided on a mass walkout.
"That won't help," I told them. "We must carry on as usual - for the sake of our viewers."
So we all stayed working as usual last week. But if I hadn't appealed to my colleagues not to strike then Crossroads
would have come off the air in four weeks time.
None of us knows exactly how Meg Mortimer will depart from the TV scene for ever. It's up to producer Jack Barton
to devise a storyline to explain her disappearance. And, ironically, it looks as though the end of Meg's career will
provide her with the best dramatic role she's had for months.
I'm expecting the writers to be told to kill her off; a motor crash ... a train accident ... a terminal illness.
Who can tell?