'Funny, big-hearted' Fat Friends writer Kay Mellor dies aged 71

17 May 2022, 11:15 | Updated: 17 May 2022, 11:45

Kay Mellor has died, her production company confirmed
Kay Mellor has died, her production company confirmed. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Fat Friends and Band of Gold writer Kay Mellor has died aged 71, with British TV stars lining up to pay tribute to her.

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Ms Mellor, who was also known for writing Girlfriends and The Syndicate, worked on Coronation Street and created Children's Ward, an award-winning drama.

Rollem Productions, her TV production company, said in a statement: "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 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."

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Ms Mellor, who was born in Leeds, was given an OBE in 2010.

Ruth Jones, who starred in Fat Friends between 2000 and 2005 and later joined co-star James Corden on Gavin and Stacey, said "British television has lost one of its greats".

"I am completely shocked to hear the news of Kay's untimely death," she said.

"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.

"She was a great mentor to me when I first started writing - and always hugely encouraging of new writers - a real testament to the idea of paying it forward.

"Her series Fat Friends was a massive turning point in my career and I will be eternally grateful to her for what she did for me.

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"British television has lost one of its greats. Thank you Kay for all that you gave us. I cannot believe you've gone."

Lisa Riley, who played Rebecca Patterson in Fat Friends from series two to four, said on Twitter: "DEAREST KAY REST IN PEACE........what a massive shock to hear this news, you have been taken far far far to young.

"You were the best boss to work for, you embraced all that is good about our industry, believing in talent."

The BBC's chief content officer, Charlotte Moore: "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."