Article Sunday People, June 28th, 1981
Anthony Water talking to John Deighton
There have only been two men in the life of Noele Gordon - and I was one of them. She called me her viking and
she fell in love with me. When I realised that had happened, I was shattered.
For underneath that aloof exterior, there is a very real woman - a warm, gentle person who is very vulnerable.
She hides her emotions, like the good actress she is, but I know that deep down she would desperately like to meet her
Mr Right. But, as far as I was concerned, that wasn't me.
Her other love was Val Parnell, the impressario. She told me she lived with Val as his mistress and wanted to marry
him. But sadly for Nolly - the name used by all her close friends - that was not to be. Val died at the age of
78 in 1972, the year before we met.
We came into each other's lives when we most needed someone.
We had marvellous fun socialising together, going to premieres and things like that. I felt like Prince Charming.
But people often got the wrong ideas and I used to get a lot of stick.
I was only 36 when we met and some people accused me of being a gigolo, hanging around with a woman who was about 15
years older than me. There were lots of nudges and winks and suggestions that I was sleeping with Crossroads' Meg.
But I never slept with Nolly. We really were just very, very good friends. I know that Nolly yearns to have
someone to go home to, especially since the death of her mother, to whom she was devoted.
Nolly once told me: "How do I marry someone who can match up to what I do?"
What she meant was: "I am a big star. I am what I am." It's very difficult finding an ordinary
man who can measure up to all that stardom means.
She really discovered me when I was appearing as an amateur actor in the musical Brigadoon, with the Worchester Operatic
Society. I was asked to drive her home to Birmingham.
Nolly and I clicked immediately. For me, ours was a warm friendship. It was a bombshell when I learned that
she had fallen in love with me. But, looking back, I should have been more aware of her growing feelings towards me.
We started dating. We enjoyed each other's company. We'd hold hands, but there was nothing passionate.