Kay Mellor, creator of TV dramas Fat Friends and The Syndicate, has died aged 71

Kay Mellor, writer of Fate Friends, receives her OBE
Kay Mellor has sadly passed away. (Image credit: Getty)

Kay Mellor, who is best known for writing hit TV shows Fat Friends, Girlfriends and The Syndicate, has died aged 71.

It has been announced that the award-winning writer, who also penned Band of Gold, passed away suddenly on Sunday, May 15th. 

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 15th May.

"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."

Mellor, whose daughter is Emmerdale actress Gaynor Faye, began her career writing plays, before working on Coronation Street and creating the award-winning children’s drama Children’s Ward.

Kay Mellor also wrote BBC One’s women’s football series Playing The Field and in 2010 received an OBE for her work.

Bafta-nominated series Fat Friends, starring James Corden, aired from 2000 until 2005 and was later turned into a musical, touring the country with the likes of Freddie Flintoff in major roles. The series focused on the members of a slimming group in Leeds, and also starred Ruth Jones, Alison Steadman and Kay's daughter, Gaynor. 

Gaynor Faye has also appeared in Coronation Street, played Megan Macey Emmerdale and starred in The Chase on BBC One, a series that she co-wrote with her mother.

Kay Mellor with her daughter Gaynor Faye

Kay and her daughter Gaynor (left) co-wrote BBC One drama The Chase. (Image credit: Getty)

Following the news of her death, tributes have come in, with BBC’s chief content officer, Charlotte Moore, paid tribute to Mellor.

In a statement, Moore said: "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.

"She will be missed and our thoughts are with her friends and family at this difficult time."

Mellor and her husband Anthony got married in 1968 and as well as daughter Gaynor the pair also have a second daughter, television producer Yvonne Francas.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.