[star rating=”4.5″] NOLLY. Three-part mini-series starring Helena Bonham Carter. Creator Russel T Davies. Showmax.
MEGAN CHORITZ reviews
This mini-series is everything. I only wished there had been more of it. Nolly is based on the real-life story of the inimitable British soap star Noele Gordon, who was the first person to appear in colour on television and then starred in a mediocre, long running soap, Crossroads. This mini-series poses the question of why she was sacked, and finally turns in a solid, feminist response, which I found very satisfying.
Look, Helena Bonham Carter could read a menu and I would be enthralled. She is extraordinary, and here as Noele Gordon she is remarkable. Nolly is a bully, a diva, a work horse, a shrewd understander of what the audience wants, a massive personality, a beautiful and demanding friend, and above all, someone who has grown into their status and standing as a star, even just a soap star. It is the character that tells the story, and Helena Bonham Carter is incredible.
She is padded to look frumpy, her funny, old fashioned red wigs are totally period appropriate, and her diction, face, body are all precise, meticulous, and utterly convincing. She is Nolly. Nolly could be called HBC’s vanity project, except that there is no sign of the actor’s vanity here. No, she is immersed. She embodies. And it absolutely isn’t pretty. Even though she is the superstar, she is the most amazing team player, working generously with her fellow cast members and they rise to the occasion too, particularly Con O’Neill as Jack Barton and Augustus Prew as Tony Adams.
The script is beautifully constructed, moving backwards and forwards, giving us a sense of Nolly’s journey with Crossroads, her elevated status, and then her devastating sacking. The sets, costumes, music, lighting and makeup are all perfect, and nod to a deep and respectful nostalgia of the time.
A strong feminist point
There is a scene. A special scene. A scene where Nolly is alone in her apartment. No spoiler here; you will know it when you see it, and that scene is just everything. I wept. I cried a few times during the series. I cried even when Nolly was holding back her tears. And I loved every second of it. I loved the slight twisting of the story to make a strong feminist point. I loved her relationship with her much younger friend and neighbour. I loved how a ‘based on’ story could have a life of its own and become even more meaningful because of it. I was charmed, and I loved it.