6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Yorkshire Life today CLICK HERE

Writer Kay Mellor talks about her long-term love affair with Leeds

15:58 22 June 2012

Writer Kay Mellor talks about her long-term love affair with Leeds

Writer Kay Mellor talks about her long-term love affair with Leeds

Less than two minutes into the conversation and scriptwriter Kay Mellor is already professing her love for Yorkshire. But then, anyone who has seen her work will be familiar with her unapologetic fascination for her home county.

Less than two minutes into the conversation and scriptwriter Kay Mellor is already professing her love for Yorkshire. But then, anyone who has seen her work will be familiar with her unapologetic fascination for her home county.


A writer of soap, theatre and drama, she has met with considerable success over the years, with TV shows like Band of Gold, Fat Friends and Playing the Field attracting big audiences and plenty of plaudits.


But Kay, born and bred in Leeds, has remained fervently grounded throughout and has not been tempted away from West Yorkshire by the bright lights of London and beyond.


‘The opportunity to leave Leeds has come up numerous times; in fact, it never goes away,’ she said. ‘But why would I want to leave? What keeps me in Leeds is the people. All my friends and family are here, so why would I move away from the very things that inspire me? As a writer and as a person I’d be crazy to do that.


‘There is so much to Leeds that I love. I love The Hollies, I love Roundhay Park, Golden Acre Park. I love the heart of Leeds. I love the fact that we’ve got a little independent cinema called Cottage Road on our doorstep. And I love the fact that people talk to you. In London it’s all about people rushing from A to B; the pace of life here is much better, much saner.


‘It’s not just Leeds either but Yorkshire as a whole; the north, in many ways. We are generally friendlier. It’s not a myth.’


Kay’s scripts often reflect this passion, with many set in her home city. But she sees this as a positive as it means she can stay in her comfort zone and write about what she knows.


‘Leeds is a perfect case study,’ she explained further. ‘It’s very near the countryside yet possesses an absolute heart of a city. It’s ten minutes from everywhere.

We’ve got the lovely big old houses of Swinton and Rudding Park, the town centre with its market, and beautiful old Victorian buildings. I love the way the architecture spreads from the traditional Civic Hall, university and Town Hall to a really modern blend of inspiring invention. Everything sits together really well. It makes me really proud.

It’s a beautiful city.’


Her BBC1 Leeds-based drama The Syndicate, she showed how a group of co-workers struggled to cope with winning the National Lottery. It attracted six million viewers at its peak.

In the Club, a drama following the lives of six pregnant women and their partners is also based in the city.

 

It’s safe to say then that people connect with her writing. But where does it spring from?

Born in 1952 and brought up on a council estate in Ireland Wood by her single mother (who would later provide the inspiration for her play A Passionate Woman), Kay has known her fair share of adversity. She was subject to considerable hardship in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and fell pregnant at 16. That put paid to any hopes of further education until the age of 27 when she started at Bretton Hall College, near Wakefield.

‘I was always creative, I just didn’t know it,’ she said. ‘Sometimes, as a child, you’re not allowed to fully explore your options. That happens even now. I soon realised I wanted to give my talent an outlet, whilst offering a voice to those many millions who don’t have one.’

It set the tone for her work that continues today, where the gritty realities of poverty and struggle are dealt with unflinchingly but with a strong underlying layer of optimism and infectious humour.

‘I don’t need to imagine what that’s like because half the time, I’ve lived it,’ said Kay. ‘But other people definitely inspire me too. I may now be a fairly successful writer but there are still members of my family that live in the same way that they’ve always lived, struggling to get by from week to week. They don’t have life savings in the bank.

‘I’m fortunate because I’m no longer in that situation, but I used to tour round in a clapped-out transit van on £90 a week as a playwright when I created the Yorkshire Theatre Company, so I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to worry that your house is going to be repossessed, and to wonder where you’re going to get the money to make it through to the end of the week. I’ve done that; I don’t have to imagine it.’

Her outlook has obviously struck a chord with many. Awarded an OBE in 2009, she is now one of Britain’s best-loved screenwriters, recently making the move on to one of Britain’s best-loved shows, producing scripts for Coronation Street, home to her daughter Gaynor Faye’s alter-ego Judy Mallett from 1995 to 1999.

‘I’m a storyteller, and I love telling stories,’ said Kay. ‘They pay me for stories and there are people out there who can’t even get a job. I must be one of the luckiest people living. People stop me in the street and tell me how much they like my work. I feel blessed.’

Kay is a passionate supporter of the National Media Museum in Bradford. For more details, visit nationalmediamuseum.org.uk

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from People

Mon, 19:27
Ripon Cathedral

The Very Reverend John Dobson, Dean of Ripon, tells us about his cathedral city. Photographs by Joan Russell

Read more
Friday, January 29, 2016
Calderdale Rising

Jenny Dutson, owner of The Workshop in Hebden Bridge, makes a plea for help on behalf of the people of flood-hit Calder Valley

Read more
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Tom Wrigglesworth

In the first of his new series of regular columns, the Sheffield-born comedian recalls how he (almost) moved back home

Read more
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Leeds city centre

The most interesting people, places and organisations you should be following on social media in and around Leeds.

Read more
Leeds
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Jo Brand atempts to from Hull to Liverpool for Sport Relief

Don’t laugh but comic Jo Brand is planning a coast to coast trek for Sport Relief

Read more
Monday, January 4, 2016
Andrew Middleton with part of his carpet and rug collection at his home in Cawood, near York

One of the world’s foremost carpet experts spins Jo Haywood a colourful yarn about his life as a collector. Photographs by Joan Russell

Read more
Saturday, January 2, 2016
Tom Wrigglesworth

Radio 4 host on growing up in Sheffield and his love of the Peak District

Read more
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
The Hepworth Wakefield – celebrating its fifth anniversary this year with Simon still at the helm (Photograph: Guzelian)

Simon says… thank you to the colleagues who have helped him make The Hepworth Wakefield such a success

Read more
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
The Red Cross in Yorkshire

Red Cross volunteer drivers Sean Ridley and Nick Stenhouse got a taste of the film industry recently when they starred in a documentary about the work of the Red Cross in rural Yorkshire.

Read more
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Luke Campbell

Hull boxer turned model Luke Campbell is a big hit in and out of the ring, writes Paul Mackenzie

Read more
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Christine Yorath

Jo Haywood meets an interior designer who specialises in making houses into homes. Photographs by Joan Russell

Read more
Friday, November 27, 2015
Cokie Van der Velde, working for the MSF in Africa

An inspirational woman from North Yorkshire has been recongnised for her efforts to fight deadly disease and deal with crises around the world. Paul Mackenzie reports

Read more
Friday, November 27, 2015
Wardle Junior Blast Brass Band  celebrating their success at the Brass Bands England 2015 National Youth Brass Band Championships

Twenty years after Brassed Off was released brass bands across the country are experiencing a resurgence with help from a group based in Barnsley. Words by Paul Mackenzie

Read more
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Penelope Wilton at Kyra - photo Kate Mallender

Downton star supports York women’s campaign

Read more

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad


Local Business Directory

Yorkshire's trusted business finder

Job Search in the Cotswolds




Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search