From a Leeds council estate to BAFTA award-winner: Who was Kay Mellor?

Kay Mellor who has died aged 71 Credit: ITV News

A career in the gilded world of television would have seemed a distant prospect when Kay Mellor was born Kay Daniel in Leeds in 1951.

One of three children, Kay and her two brothers were raised in a single parent household on a council estate by their mother, Dinah, after she separated from their father.

Kay herself became pregnant with her first daughter, Yvonne, when she was just 16, marrying Yvonne's father, Anthony Mellor, in 1968.

The couple's second daughter, Gaynor, who went on to become an actress and star in some of Kay's dramas, was born in 1971.

Kay had promised her mother she would one day return to education. And she later did so, passing her O-levels and A-levels and going on to gain a degree.

Kay and her daughter Gaynor Faye Credit: PA

Her break as a scriptwriter came at Granada Television, where she penned episodes for Coronation Street and Brookside.

The first of numerous hit shows followed in 1995, when she became a household name with highly acclaimed drama Band of Gold, about a group of women from Bradford's red light district.

In 1998 she wrote Playing the Field for BBC One. Two years later Fat Friends aired for the first time, helping to launch the career of James Corden, who Kay cast after seeing him in a soft drink advert.

James Corden and Lisa Riley in Fat Friends

Other TV credits included Between the Sheets (2003), Strictly Confidential (2006) and The Syndicate, which was filmed in Yorkshire in 2012 and ran for four series, with filming of the latest series interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the Club aired on the BBC in 2014, followed by drama series Love Lies and Records, which was filmed in her home city, and then ITV drama Girlfriends, starring Zoe Wanamaker, Miranda Richardson and Phyllis Logan.

Kay receives an OBE from the Prince of Wales during the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

In 2017, Kay turned Fat Friends into a musical and later toured the country with a stage version of Band of Gold, until the pandemic closed theatres.

As well as writing, Kay had acting credits, starring in her own 1990s adaptation of Jane Eyre, as well as a roles in comedy dramas Stan the Man, Gifted and A Good Thief.

But it was her 30-year career as a writer for which she was most celebrated, collecting a BAFTA Dennis Potter award in 1997 for Outstanding Writing for Television, and an OBE in the 2009 birthday honours. She also became a Fellow of the Royal Television Society in 2016.