Kay Mellor dies aged 71: Who is Leeds writer and actor who wrote TV dramas ‘The Syndicate’, ‘Fat Friends’ and ‘Band of Gold’?

Kay Mellor was known for creating the successful Leeds-based TV show Fat Friends, which starred Gavin and Stacey actors Alison Steadman, Ruth Jones and James Corden, as well as her daughter Gaynor Faye.

A spokesperson for Kay Mellor’s TV production company, Rollem Productions, announced that the Leeds actor and TV writer died at the age of 17 on Sunday, May 15.

Her death has sparked tributes from famous faces including her co-worker on The Syndicate, Lenny Henry, who tweeted: “I was saddened to hear that Kay Mellor has died. I was lucky to work with her on The Syndicate and found her to be incredibly creative, funny and instinctive.

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“She knew what she wanted and knew how to get the best from us as actors. She will be missed. Condolences to her family.”

Coronation Street actor and singer, Kym Marsh, tweeted: “I am so so sad to hear of the passing of Kay Mellor. I had the pleasure of working with Kay briefly last year and it was an absolute honour.

“A huge talent, a huge personality, a wonderful lady. She will be missed. Our thoughts are with her family and friends x”

Emmerdale actor and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here 2021 winner Danny Miller tweeted: “Devastated to hear of the passing of Dear Kay Mellor.

“An incredible talent in the TV world and someone who always had a warming smile on offer with open arms. Sending all of my love to Gaynor and the rest of the beautiful family during this difficult time.”

Kay Mellor and her daughter, Gaynor Faye. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)

Rollem Productions said: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the untimely and sudden passing of our beloved friend, mentor and colleague Kay Mellor on Sunday 15th May 2022.

“We have lost a phenomenal talent and a true luminary. We ask that you please respect the privacy of the family and friends at this time.”

Here is everything you need to know about the life and prosperous career of Kay Mellor.

Who is Kay Mellor?

Kay was born in Leeds to father, George and mother, Dinah. She had a younger brother, Phillip, and an older brother, Robert, who died in the early 2010s.

Kay’s mother was a survivor of domestic violence and divorced her husband when Kay was just two years old, resulting in her raising her three children as a single parent.

In 1967, the actor and writer became pregnant aged 16 and married the father of her child, Anthony Mellor, who was 17 at the time.

The couple had two daughters, TV producer Yvonne Francas and actor Gaynor Faye, best known for her long-running role as Judy Mallett in Coronation Street, along with four grandchildren.

Her mother encouraged her to return to school when she got the chance after her pregnancy, so Kay went back to school when her children were of school age, where she passed her O-levels and A-levels.

She went to Bretton Hall College and graduated with a BA Hons degree in 1983.

Kay Mellor’s career journey

As a writer, she began her career working for Granada Television in the 1980s, where she wrote for Coronation Street. Then in 1989, Kay wrote for episodes of the popular Channel 4 soap Brookside.

She then wrote for the anthology drama series Dramarama before co-creating the long-running children’s drama Children’s Ward with her Coronation Street colleague Paul Abbott in 1988. The TV show won Best Children’s Drama in the 1997 BAFTA Awards.

Her first solo creation was a soap called Families which aired from 1990 to 1993. She also wrote and starred in three series of the family show Just Us (1990-1994).

Since then, Kay has written for and created TV drama serials including Band of Gold (1995), BBC One’s Playing the Field (1998), Fat Friends (2000), Between the Sheets (2003) and Strictly Confidential (2006) for ITV.

Her show Fat Friends was turned into a stage musical with Nick Lloyd Webber, who wrote the music, in 2017. The musical toured the UK in 2018.

As well as writing successful TV shows, Kay excelled in her career as an actor. She appeared in her own adaptation of Jane Eyre (1997), as well as other comedy shows Stan the Man (2002), A Good Thief (2002), and Gifted (2003).

In 2012, she wrote another BBC drama The Syndicate, which ran from March 27, 2012 to May 4, 2021. The first series of the show starred Harry Potter actors Timothy Spall, Matthew Lewis and Gavin and Stacey actor Joanna Page.

Kay was awarded the BAFTA Dennis Potter Award in 1997 for Outstanding Writing for Television.

In 2009 she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and in 2014 she was awarded the Writers Guild for Outstanding Contribution to Writing.