It’s exactly 12 years since the smash hit television programme The Syndicate burst onto our TV screens with a host of famous faces amongst the cast.

Written, directed and produced by the wonderful Kay Mellor with daughter Gaynor Faye by her side as series script editor and appearing herself in series four, the show featured an all-star cast including Timothy Spall and Joanne Page.

The first series has now been adapted for the stage by Kay in what became her final venture into theatre before her sad untimely death two years ago. Kay had already asked Gaynor to co-direct the project with her, so now the actress is going it alone in her first solo directing role.

“Mum’s shoes are big ones to fill, but I understand her vision and what she wanted for this production, and I am determined to do her proud. I think being an actress as well as a director helps me to see every character’s development from the actors perspective and I’m loving every second of it” Gaynor told us when I caught up with her in rehearsals.

The Syndicate tells the story of five supermarket workers whose lottery numbers come in just as their jobs are under threat. But what will the win mean for the syndicate, will it make their dreams come true or their nightmares a reality?

This stage adaptation stars Emmerdale’s Samantha Giles, Coronation Street’s Brooke Vincent as well as Gaynor’s son, Kay’s grandson, Oliver Anthony. “I cast the actors for the roles that I knew my mum would have wanted,” Gaynor told us.

Brooke became a household name as Sophie Webster in Coronation Street between 2004 and 2019. Gaynor also enjoyed a spell in Coronation Street as Judy Mallet. “Landing the role as Amy was a real thrill. I’d kind of taken a step back from acting to look after my two boys but having the chance to work alongside Gaynor was a chance I couldn’t pass up. I love all Kay’s work, it has real Northern warmth and humour. Playing Amy is different to playing Sophie Webster, Amy is very glamorous, a real dolly bird with hair extensions,” she laughed. “Really quite different to me!” This is only the second play that Brooke has undertaken in live theatre.

Samantha was looking for a new challenge after leaving her role as Bernice Blackstock in Emmerdale after 26 years. “Everyone is used to seeing me as the glamorous Bernice, so playing a polar opposite character, the frumpy Denise will be a real lovely role to play.

Both actors are very nervous ahead of the show opening at Leeds Grand theatre on 18th April. Both have been used to working in soap so stepping out onto a live stage will be quite daunting. Oliver, however is super excited and can’t wait to make his stage debut.

As well as taking on her first solo directing role, Gaynor has been persuaded to appear in the production herself. “That really wasn’t part of the plan,” she said, “but there was a role we hadn’t cast and it was the perfect fit for me, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be in my mum’s last play. I would have been so jealous seeing everyone up on stage if I hadn’t agreed to be in it.”

Concluding Gaynor said “My Mum wrote for people. Those who watch her shows are the kind of people she related to. She encapsulated them in her shows, at times funny, at times dramatic and moving, but always in a way that people could see themselves in many of the characters she created which is why everyone loves her work.”

The syndicate tours the length of the UK, visiting many of the UKs top venues, starting in Kay and Gaynor’s hometown of Leeds on 18th April, before heading to Richmond, Norwich, Newcastle, New Brighton, Salford, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Sheffield, Shrewsbury, Hull, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bradford, and Cardiff.

Gaynor and Brooke both took time out of their busy rehearsals to talk to Yorkshire Businesswoman editor Gill Laidler.

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