Kay Mellor dies aged 71: Yorkshire Scriptwriter remembered by college friend

A former college friend of Yorkshire’s Kay Mellor shared his memories of the Leeds actor and writer who studied at the former Bretton Hall College in Wakefield.

Pete Hirst, 61, remembers coming back on a bus home from the performing arts college with Mellor, and having conversations about politics and “how little of art is written by working class people and is reflected in the media.”

Hirst who lives in Wakefield said that this has been clearly reflected in the work she produced following college.

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Mellor was the creative force behind BBC and ITV series such as The Syndicate, Fat Friends, Girlfriends, Love, Lies and Records, The Chase and Band of Gold.

Kay Mellor wears her OBE at Buckingham Palace following the investiture ceremony.

Hirst was shocked when he heard the news that Mellor had died at the age of 71 on Sunday, May 15.

“She was ahead of her time. It’s really sad,” said Hirst.

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Mother-of-two Mellor joined performing arts college Bretton Hall, aged 27, as a mature student when her own children, which she had in her teens, were old enough to go to school.

“She’d had to work to get to college. She fetched that reality to it,” said Hirst.

He said that Bretton had been coined the “velvet rut” because it was known for being middle class but she was a “breath of fresh air because she fetched that working class life to it.”

Mellor went to Bretton Hall College which closed and was sold by University of Leeds in 2007, was one of its most famous alumni who graduated with a BA Hons degree in 1983.

Hirst said: “She was always such a lovely woman. She was always so positive.”

He added that Mellor was normal and down-to-earth and you didn’t suspect that she would become a big star.

When Hirst last saw her at the Leeds Playhouse, he said that she was still “so friendly,” and didn’t have that “big starry vibe.”

University of Leeds who ran Bretton Hall, took to twitter to share their reaction:

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Kay Mellor OBE (Drama 1983). Kay graduated from

@UniversityLeeds affiliated college Bretton Hall, and was an acclaimed writer responsible for some of TV's most remarkable dramas.”

Research Fellow Simon Warner at the University of Leeds, tweeted: “Bretton Hall College giant gone as dramatist Mellor dies: A true shock, and a very sad one. She was only on Channel 4 News about two weeks ago arguing for C4 against the threat of privatisation.”

Actor Julien Ball, added: “What sad news. I remember her as a student at Bretton Hall in the early 80's. A lovely woman and such a talent.”