Whatever people thought of Noele Gordon and Crossroads, there was no doubt that the two went together like bacon and eggs - and had done since the very first episode way back in November 1964.
The announcement that Noele had been sacked from the show exploded upon the media on 22 June 1981. And Crossroads fans were stunned.The "Save Our Meg" campaign - the Sun, June 24 1981.
Crossroads boss Jack Barton yesterday faced the cast of the TV soap opera for the first time since the Big Sacking Shock.
He saw them for a 20-minute crisis meeting folowing the surprise dismissal of Noele Gordon, the show's top star for the last 17 years.
Mr Barton, the programme's producer, left ATV's studios in Birmingham refusing to comment on the talks or the decision to scrap Noele's role as motel owner Meg Mortimer.
But it is understood that the meeting was called to assure other members of the cast that their jobs were safe.
Rumours have swept showbiz that Noele's departure was only the first of many from the much-loved series.
Noele was in tears before he arrived. But she left smiling, with co-star Tony Adams, 41, who plays Adam Chance in the series.
And later it was confirmed that she had been asked to play the mother of stripper Gipsy Rose Lee in a stage show opening in November at Leicester's Haymarket Theatre...Sunday Mirror, June 28, 1981:
Producer Jack Barton said: "In the run-up, fans have been led to believe that Sam was going to start the fire, but that is wrong."
In last night's episode, viewers saw Meg Mortimer walk into her room and put some pills on the table, along with a note to her daughter Jill (Jane Rossington).
At the last minute, as the motel staff were enjoying a bonfire-night party outside, Jill glanced around to see the motel in flames. She screamed: "Mum! Oh my God!"
The ending was the signal for viewers to seize their phones.
An ATV spokesman said: "There have been hundreds of calls at ITV stations around the country."
He added that the "whole nation had gone wild" about Meg - whose sacking from Crossroads caused an outcry.
An ATV switchboard operator said: "We've had scores of people crying down the phone, making no sense at all."
Crossroads addict Mrs Lynda Belcher, of Great Shefford, Berks, said: "I wish they hadn't left us in suspense. It's terrible that they are writing Meg out of the series."The Sun, November 12, 1981.
The QE2 ending was used and Meg sailed away, unaware that the motel was in ashes.Opposition leader Michael Foot is inspired by the blaze at the motel in this Franklin cartoon, November 5, 1981.