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Friday, June 24, 2022

Obituary: Kay Mailer, the teenage mother who became a hugely successful TV writer behind the hit dramas “Fat Friends” and “Band of Gold.”

Kay Mailer, who has died at the age of 71, became a hugely successful television writer in the 1960s after an inauspicious start as a teenage mother. She was behind the drama Fat Friends, set at Leeds Slimming Club; the lottery series The Syndicate, starring Timothy Spall in the first season and Neil Morrissey in the fourth season; And in the club, following the widely differing lives of six couples who attended parenting classes during pregnancy.

He put strong, believable female characters in the foreground. Many of his screenplays were set in the gritty reality of Yorkshire life, not the show’s gloomy nostalgic upper echelons as in last of the summer wine, gold bandWhich ran for three series on ITV from 1995, dealing with prostitutes battling pimps, police, debt and drugs along Lumb Lane in Bradford’s red-light district.

Kay Mailer’s interest in the subject arose on a November night in the 1980s when she was driving through the area for a party with her husband, Anthony. A blond girl in a mini-skirt and crop top, her legs coldly blue, bent down to look into the car, hoping that Anthony had a puncture. “When I saw his face, I was shocked,” Kay Mailer recalled. “She looked around at 14… I kept thinking, ‘Whose daughter is this? What kind of society do we live in where 13 or 14 year olds have to sell their bodies?’ ,

It was another urban car tour that inspired Mailer to fat friends (ITV, 2000-05), starring Alison Steadman. Driving into Leeds on a cold night, he saw a group consisting of a curvy young woman dressed in a strappy dress that looked like a character from a Beryl Cook painting.

At its peak Fat Friends attracted 10 million viewers and in 2018 the show was turned into a musical.

He also wrote screenplays for films including girls night (1998), starring Julie Walters and Brenda Blythin in the bubbly tale of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer, and fannie and elvis (1999), a romantic comedy centered on a woman whose biological clock is ticking hard, reflects on the author’s own experience trying for a third child.

girlfriendOne of her last projects was an ITV series about three women who had been friends since adolescence and are now facing menopause.

K Mailer’s work quickly flipped between tears and laughter. “Life is like that,” she said Guardian in 1999. “You’re in love with someone, they leave, so you follow them down the ring road in your nightie. It’s sad, but it’s funny.”

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in the meeting, which ran for two series on BBC One between 2014 and 2016, presented viewers with a mid-forties businesswoman with two grown children who are pregnant by her young boyfriend; a gay couple with an unfaithful sperm donor; A young woman in an arranged marriage is expecting a child who does not necessarily belong to her husband; A would-be father who has turned to crime after losing his job; and Rosie, 16, who didn’t tell her widowed father that he was going to be a grandfather.

If Rosie’s story sounded particularly poignant, it’s probably because her producer had a similar situation some 50 years ago.

Kay Melor was born Kay Daniels on May 11, 1951 in Leeds, the second of three children of George Daniels and his wife Dina (née Waits), who divorced her violent husband at the age of two. had given

Kay’s mother raised her children alone in “damp and horrible” prefab, as Melor recalled, on a council estate north of town.

“She didn’t care what people thought. She wouldn’t wear a wedding ring and wouldn’t take advantage of the state. She worked as a tailor. She did everything: make carpets for our rooms, wall-mount, cook, Sewing and we found time to read stories and be affectionate.” Young Kay used to make up stories to keep her dolls entertained.

Kay was pregnant by 16: the father was her boyfriend of 17 years, Anthony Mailer, an apprentice motorcycle mechanic whom she met on a blind date. They married in 1967 with a reception at the co-op, which she described as something out of Alan Bennett’s play: “I thought my life was over, that I would never do anything again except a pram.” to push.” Her mother stood by her, but promised that she would resume her education.

Anthony’s parents squeezed the young couple and their daughter into their own council house, and for two years they slept in the same bed with a cot. They scrambled and saved and bought clothes from Oxfam. Kay drove a lilac-colored Hillman Imp that at one time had no windscreen because she could not afford a replacement when the original was shattered. After some time they moved to their own council house and had a second daughter.

After the girls started school, Mailer kept her promise and went back to study. At the age of 27 she was studying drama at Bretton Hall College near Wakefield, where she caught lectures by sculptor Henry Moore and founded the Yorkshire Theater Company to present her stage plays. Paul Which won the Best New Drama Award at the National Student Drama Festival.

When Anthony also returned to college, Kay sought acting work to pay the bills, landing the part of WPC Kershaw in Grenada Television’s soap opera in the mid-1980s. Albion Market, set in a covered market in Salford. Not impressed by the story, he wrote his own screenplay, The. told sunday mirror The magazine expected it to be thrown in the bin: “But executive producer Bill Podmore said it was promising and made me the story editor.” She ended up writing her own exit from the series.

Albion Market Closed in 1986 and K Mailer moved to Granada coronation road and then channel 4 brookside Working with Jimmy McGovern. she produced the grenada serial children’s ward Set in a fictional children’s hospital and presents its first “issue” play which is a painful story about child abuse called place of safetyFor Yorkshire TV. Playing fieldFollowing the life of the Castleford Blues, a South Yorkshire women’s football team, was on BBC One between 1998 and 2002.

By then Mailer was being taken seriously as a writer, recalling “sitting in the BBC canteen, eating chips and telling the head of the play my thoughts for almost two hours”. gold band was accepted by the corporation, but when the senior executives went cold they refused to drop the idea and took it to ITV; The finished result was nominated for two BAFTA Awards and won a Royal Television Society Award.

She also had a parallel career as a television actress, appearing in her own adaptation of Jane Eyre (1997) and a good thief (2002). Her one-woman show, QueenWas seen at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, where in 1992 she played a troubled nurse and overburdened woman in an acclaimed production of Lyudmila Petrushevskaya three girls in blue, She has long since left the Leeds council estate of her childhood, but lives in the town, living in a large gray stone house at the leafy end of Headingley.

In 1997 Kay Mellor received the BAFTA’s Dennis Potter Award for Outstanding Writing for Television and was appointed an OBE in 2009. She is survived by her husband, Anthony, who ran a day care centre, and their two daughters, Yvonne Francas, an actress and television producer who worked with their mother. Syndicateand Gaynor Faye, an actress who played Judy Mallett in the 1990s coronation road and later was emmerdale,

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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