Here’s another winner, The Syndicate is back!

Tuesday: The Syndicate; (BBC One, 9pm)

Monday, 29th March 2021, 5:00 pm
Frank, Duke, Roxy, Jake, Keeley, Gemma and Colette
Frank, Duke, Roxy, Jake, Keeley, Gemma and Colette

You can’t beat a good Mellor-drama…

If that isn’t already the nickname given to Kay Mellor’s work, it ought to be. After all, she seems to have the Midas touch – plenty of her series have turned to gold, that’s for sure.

The Leeds-based writer has forged a hugely successful career as a screenwriter, having started her career on Coronation Street in the 1980s.

Mellor also penned episodes of the short-lived soap Albion Market and Dramarama before co-creating the long-running Children’s Ward with Paul Abbott, who would later gain further fame for such hits as Touching Evil, Clocking Off, State of Play and Shameless.

But it’s on her own that she has gained most success, with hit after hit, including Band of Gold, which was set in her native West Yorkshire, albeit on the streets of Bradford, rather than Leeds, where she was born.

Playing the Field, Fat Friends, Between the Sheets and Strictly Confidential followed. In the Club and Love, Lies & Records have also gone down a treat with viewers.

Now Mellor is returning to our screens with a new series of The Syndicate, her lottery-inspired anthology drama. Each run focuses on a different batch of people as they navigate the perils and pitfalls – as well as the joys – of winning the jackpot. It’s been six years since the previous instalment, but the storyline remains as relevant as ever.

“The times we are living in, people are desperate and holding on to the dream of winning the lottery as the only solution available,” says Mellor. “It’s a natural dramatic premise because it has highs and lows, an air of anticipation and chance and ultimately can be life changing.

“It’s become more pertinent today than ever before. And as Shakespeare put it: ‘it is such stuff as dreams are made of’… and he usually got it right!”

This time around, the focus is on the staff of a kennels who must find their missing ticket if they’re to claim their prize. Her daughter, former Corrie star Gaynor Faye, is among the cast.

“I’m totally honest with her about her performances,” says Mellor. “But I always have to remember that I’m not just a critic. I’m also her mother.”

Before penning the first run, Mellor did her research by meeting some of those who had won big on the National Lottery.

She discovered “their lives weren’t necessarily made better. Sometimes lives were made more complicated, families were fractured and friends were lost. The initial happiness was fleeting; one of the winners told me it lasted for just six days. Some people felt it was a great sense of responsibility. It became apparent to me that winning the lottery is not necessarily all that it’s cracked up to be.”

With that in mind, it’s clear that Mellor herself probably isn’t that keen on the idea of matching up all the numbers herself. Instead, she seems happier writing and directing. “I have the best job in the world,” she smiles. “So I feel like I’ve won the lottery!”

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