'Down-to-earth, funny, big-hearted': Tributes flood in after the death of Kay Mellor

Kay Mellor was described as a 'force of nature'. Credit: PA

Stars from the world of television have led tributes to Kay Mellor, following her death at the age of 71.

The Leeds-born screenwriter, who was behind some of television's biggest shows, including Girlfriends, Band of Gold and The Syndicate, lost her life suddenly on Sunday, 15 May, her production company announced on Tuesday.

Emmerdale actress Lisa Riley, who worked with Mellor on Fat Friends, tweeted that the news had come as a "massive shock".

She added: "You have been taken far, far, far too young. You were the best boss to work for, you embraced all that is good about our industry, believing in talent."

Kay Mellor with some of the cast of Fat Friends. Credit: PA

Welsh actress Ruth Jones, who also starred in Fat Friends, said television had "lost one of its greats".

She said: "I am completely shocked to hear the news of Kay's untimely death. Her contribution to British television was outstanding and I feel privileged to have worked with her.

"Such a down-to-earth, funny, big-hearted person whose brilliance lay in seeing the extraordinary in the day-to-day."

Former Coronation Street star Kym Marsh said working with Mellor was an "absolute honour".

She tweeted: "A huge talent, a huge personality a wonderful lady. She will be missed. Our thoughts are with her family and friends."

Actor Chris Fountain, who worked with Mellor on Girlfriends, said she was a "magnificent writer and a force of nature".

"I consider myself very lucky to have worked with her. She gave me a chance when many haven’t and I’ll be forever grateful for that."

Michelle Hardwick, who plays Vanessa Woodfield in Emmerdale, said: "She produced some of the best dramas of our time. Was so lucky to meet her on many occasions. My thoughts and prayers go out to all her family."

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, who was an actress on Coronation Street, which Mellor had worked on, said it was "dreadful news".

She tweeted: "Our voice of the North, she put working class characters at the centre of her brilliant compassionate, moving & funny stories. Such a loss."

There were also tributes from institutions in Mellor's home city. The Leeds Grand Theatre tweeted" "Kay was a pioneer of northern drama and real-life stories, going where no other female writer, director, and actor had gone before."

Leeds Civic Trust praised her "incredible contribution" to the city.