Kay Mellor: Fat Friends and Band of Gold writer dies aged 71

Kay Mellor, the writer behind hit series including Fat Friends, Band of Gold and The Syndicate, has died aged 71.

A spokesperson for her TV production company, 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 15 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.”

Leeds-born Mellor was perhaps best known for writing the Bafta-nominated show Fat Friends, which aired on ITV from 2000 until 2005. It followed a slimming group in Leeds and starred James Corden, Ruth Jones and Alison Steadman, who later went on to star in Gavin & Stacey together.

Mellor reportedly cast Corden after seeing him in a Tango advert, requesting that casting director Beverley Keogh find him because she thought he was perfect for the series.

Mellor started out her career as a playwright, before working on Coronation Street and creating the award-winning kids’ drama Children’s Ward.

She also wrote BBC One’s women’s football series Playing the Field and received an OBE for services to drama in 2010.

On BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2017, Mellor chose the Fat Friends theme tune, The Beautiful South’s “Perfect 10”, as one of her discs, saying that “every time I heard that I used to get excited and get butterflies”.

She added: “It was such a lovely time of my life, it was a drama that was really important to me because I thought I had something to say about weight and body image.”

‘Fat Friends’ cast (ITV)
‘Fat Friends’ cast (ITV)

Mellor also had a career as an actor, and appeared in her own Nineties adaptation of Jane Eyre and in other series such as the comedy drama Stan the Man, A Good Thief and Gifted.

The BBC’s chief content officer, Charlotte Moore, said in a statement: “I’m shocked and deeply saddened to hear that Kay Mellor has suddenly passed away.

“Kay was an outstanding writer and the creative force behind many of the nation’s best-loved television dramas. She wrote with such heart, humanity, humour and passion with strong female characters often taking centre stage.”

He added: “She will be missed and our thoughts are with her friends and family at this difficult time.”

Mellor and her husband Anthony were married in 1968 and have two daughters, actor Faye and television producer Yvonne Francas.