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Kay Mellor, writer of hit TV dramas Fat Friends and The Syndicate, dies aged 71

Kay Mellor, who wrote hit TV dramas Fat Friends and The Syndicate, has died aged 71.

Born in Leeds, the writer, who began with plays, died on Sunday, her production company announced.

"We have lost a phenomenal talent and a true luminary," Rollem Productions added in a statement.

Other TV credits included Band of Gold, about a group of women from Bradford’s red light district, football series Playing the Field, and Girlfriends.

Mellor also wrote episodes of Coronation Street and Brookside, and created the award-winning children’s drama Children’s Ward.

She became pregnant aged 16 in 1967 and married the child’s father, Anthony Mellor, who was 17.

Mellor returned to her education when her two daughters (actress Gaynor Faye and television producer Yvonne Francas) were of school age, and began working for Granada Television in the 1980s.

Fat Friends, about the members of a slimming group in Leeds, starred James Corden, Ruth Jones, Alison Steadman and Mellor’s youngest daughter, Gaynor, and was later turned into a musical.

Jones, who went on to write and star in Gavin and Stacey with Corden, said Mellor was "such a down-to-earth, funny, big-hearted person whose brilliance lay in seeing the extraordinary in the day to day".

Mellor chose the Fat Friends theme tune, The Beautiful South’s Perfect 10, when she appeared on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs in 2017, saying that every time she heard it she would "get excited and get butterflies".

Sir Lenny Henry said he was "lucky to work with (Mellor) on The Syndicate and found her to be incredibly creative, funny and instinctive", adding that she "knew how to get the best from us as actors".

Screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce said he was "on Corrie when (Mellor) was", adding: "She was so breezily intelligent, so casually kind, so ready to get on with stuff."

Emmerdale’s Lisa Riley said Mellor had been "taken far far far to young" and was the "best boss to work for".

Actress Sunetra Sarker, whose credits include Playing the Field, Casualty and Cold Feet, tweeted: "I remember how comfortable (Mellor) made me feel when I worked with her, so clever and witty. From the iconic Band of Gold to (the) present day she truly championed women."

Kym Marsh said she’d had the "pleasure of working with Kay briefly last year and it was an absolute honour", adding that Mellor was a "huge talent, a huge personality, a wonderful lady".

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