HEARTFELT tributes have been paid to actress, screenwriter and director Kay Mellor who has died aged 71.
The inspiration behind such hits as The Syndicate, Girlfriends and Band of Gold, Mellor also wrote the popular ITV hit Fat Friends which launched the career of James Corden.
He would later write Gavin and Stacey with fellow Fat Friends costar Ruth Jones and attracted the talents of a young Sheridan Smith and Alison Steadman.
A trailblazer in the industry, Mellor’s shows never failed to pull in audiences and her care for the future of television was further revealed when she became one of the leading voices against the proposed privatisation of Channel 4.
In a statement, her 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 (May 15).
“We have lost a phenomenal talent and a true luminary. We ask that you please respect the privacy of the family and friends.
The BBC’s chief content officer, Charlotte Moore, paid tribute to Kay Mellor following her death, saying she was “shocked and deeply saddened” by the news.
“Kay was an outstanding writer and the creative force behind many of the nation’s best-loved television dramas,” Moore said.
“She wrote with such heart, humanity, humour and passion with strong female characters often taking centre stage.