Stars from world of TV and beyond have paid tribute to screenwriter Kay Mellor, hailed as “our voice of the North”, following her death aged 71.
The actress, director and writer of prolific TV shows like The Syndicate, Fat Friends, Band Of Gold and more, died on May 15, a spokesperson for her TV production company Rollem Productions said.
A statement to the PA news agency 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 May 15 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.”
It’s A Sin and Queer As Folk writer Russell T Davies described Mellor’s “unshakeable belief in story, story, story”, adding: “I think of her always when I’m writing.”
In an Instagram post, he wrote: “Kay Mellor has died. Creator of Band Of Gold, Fat Friends, Children’s Ward, The Syndicate, and so much more. I adored her. She taught me so much. And she was hilarious!
“I was invited on her This Is Your Life, she walked through the double doors, saw me and said ‘What are you doing here?’ 😂.
“She mentored so many. She had an unshakeable belief in story, story, story, I think of her always when I’m writing. I went to Fat Friends The Musical last year; sold out, an audience laughing and roaring and sobbing, an audience that gets left behind by everyone else.
“I once saw A Passionate Woman in the West End. There’s a line where the mum says that now her son’s leaving home, she doesn’t know how much milk to order. And a sigh went round the auditorium.
“I’ve never heard anything like it; 800 people recognising that thought. What a talent. What a power. What a joy. Christ, she was funny. I love you Kay”.
Barbara Dickson, who starred as Anita Braithwaite in Band Of Gold, tweeted: “I am heartbroken to hear the news that Kay has died.
“She was an inspirational writer and a huge influence on me. My thoughts are with her family and friends.”
West Yorkshire mayor Tracy Brabin paid tribute to the Leeds-born writer on Twitter, saying: “Just dreadful news & difficult to take in. Sending all our love from everyone in #westyorkshire to Kay’s family, friends & colleagues.
“Our voice of the North, she put working class characters at the centre of her brilliant compassionate, moving & funny stories. Such a loss.”
Mellor, who was awarded the Bafta Dennis Potter award in 1998 for outstanding writing for television, was also remembered by the independent arts charity who tweeted: “We’re saddened to hear that Kay Mellor, the hugely influential BAFTA-winning writer, actor and director whose hit TV series include Fat Friends, Band Of Gold and Playing The Field, has died.
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends”.
Actress Katherine Rose Morley, who led the cast of series four of The Syndicate, the drama series from Mellor about different betting syndicates that win the lottery, said she was “heartbroken” by news of the scriptwriter’s death.
She said on Twitter: “I am in complete shock and utterly heartbroken to hear about Kay Mellor.
“She showed me so much kindness from the moment we met and she made everyone’s lives that bit brighter.
“I’m honoured to have known her and even more grateful for the opportunity she gave me. Always in my (heart).”
Lisa Riley, who played Rebecca Patterson in Fat Friends in series two to four, described Mellor as “the best boss”.
She said on Twitter: “DEAREST KAY REST IN PEACE……..what a massive shock to hear this news, you have been taken far far far to young. You were the best boss to work for, you embraced all that is good about our industry, believing in talent.”
Actor Kenny Doughty, who starred in Mellor’s 2003 film Gifted, tweeted: “Absolutely shocked & saddened to hear that Kay Mellor has passed away.
“Such an inspiration & force of nature & wonderful soul. Will miss her dearly. Sending love & prayers to her family.”
Emmerdale actor and I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! winner Danny Miller also paid tribute to Mellor, tweeting that she was: “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.”