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Kay Mellor: A crumbling stately home is the 'perfect premise' for The Syndicate

(Image credit: BBC/Rollem Productions)

Kay Mellor talks to TV Times about the third series of The Syndicate, which starts on Tuesday on BBC1 and features Lenny Henry among its cast.

This time the setting is a crumbling stately home, Hazelwood Manor, in Scarborough, where owners Lord and Lady Hazelwood’s inherited money is fast running out and they have more than £6.5million of debt. 

But it’s not the posh upstairs folk who strike it lucky. Instead it’s the downstairs staff who score a winning line to pocket a cool £14.5million. 

Can you tell us a little about the new series?

“It’s an unusual series," teases Kay, who also created acclaimed shows Band of Gold, Fat Friends, Playing The Field and last year’s In The Club. "It’s got all the joy of winning the Lottery, wonderful locations, but at the same time there’s a whodunit, which I normally don’t do.”

So, is there a theme that runs throughout every series?

“A theme that runs throughout every series of The Syndicate has been all or nothing. There are those people who have had everything – which in this case is the Hazelwoods – and those that have had very little – the staff downstairs. It’s a perfect premise.”

Obviously we now know a lot more about life in a stately home thanks to ITV hit Downton Abbey. Did this have any influence on you?

"Not really. I have to be honest – I’ve never watched an episode of Downton Abbey. Many moons ago I watched an episode of the original Upstairs, Downstairs and quite liked it. But The Syndicate has no comparison really with these series because they’re period pieces. This is very contemporary and looks at the aristocracy struggling to live in the modern world with this great big stately home that is damp, cold and difficult to live in.”

So, any plans for a fourth series?

"You know, there’s something neat about a trilogy, but then another little bit of me goes, ‘Well, there could be five hairdressers in Hull!’ It could go on and on…”