ITV Emmerdale: Real life of Gaynor Faye – Buddhism, quitting soap for famous mum and heartbreaking loss

Earlier this week tributes came flooding in from the TV world and beyond after it was announced that Kay Mellor had died aged 71. The actress, director and writer of prolific TV shows like The Syndicate, Fat Friends, Band Of Gold and more died on May 15, a spokesperson for her TV production company Rollem Productions said.

Their statement added: “We have lost a phenomenal talent and a true luminary. We ask that you please respect the privacy of the family and friends at this time.”

The Leeds-born writer began her career at Granada Television in the 1980s, penning scripts for Coronation Street and creating the Children’s medical drama Children’s Ward. She also contributed to Channel 4 soap Brookside in 1989 before going on to have an extensive career, putting pen to paper and creating some of telly’s biggest shows.

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Kay leaves behind two famous daughters, actress Gaynor Faye and producer Yvonne Francas and four grandchildren. Many will recognize Gaynor for roles in Corrie and Emmerdale, as well as Fat Friends and more recently The Syndicate.

Gaynor played Judy Mallett on the cobbles from 1995 until 1999. She wife of Gary Mallett, and mother to twins Billy and Becky and the family had moved into No.9. Judy was an arcade assistant, and later a barmaid at the Rovers Return.

Gaynor as Judy in Coronation Street

Before the arrival of the twins in 1998, Judy had believed she was unable to conceive, leading the Malletts to attempt to buy pregnant teen Zoe Tattersall’s baby, Katie. But they were left heartbroken when Zoe broke the agreement and took her daughter from her back. Then, less than a year after becoming a mother, Judy was involved in a minor car accident, causing an undetected blood clot in her leg and a few days later, she died suddenly when hanging out washing.

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But prior to that, Gaynor had played Holly Quinn in Playing the Field, Lauren Harris in her mum’s series Fat Friends, Georgia Lovett in Between the Sheets and Anna Williams Bedford in The Chase. However, she is now probably best known for playing Megan Macey in Emmerdale from 2012 until 2019 when Megan left the Dales with her daughter, Eliza, following the death of her partner, Frank.

Gaynor starred as Megan in Emmerdale

When we asked by OK! Magazine if she’d ruled out returning to the soap she said: “Absolutely not – it’s a great job. I wouldn’t have ruled out going back to Coronation Street but I died! I’m a big believer of if it’s meant to be, it will happen.”

In real-life, Gaynor left the ITV soap after promising her mother she would appear in the stage version of crime drama Band of Gold, which first aired on ITV in 1995. “I was working on Emmerdale at the time and got involved in workshopping Band of Gold and people just loved it… absolutely loved it,” Gaynor has previously said.

“Then I got asked if I would be in it, but I was still in Emmerdale, so then I had to make the choice whether or not I was going to leave Emmerdale or not. That was a big choice to make. She [Kay] really wanted me in it. She really liked my version of Rose, so for her, she really wanted me to do it. But it was a big decision I had to make and I didn’t make it lightly.”

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Gaynor, who won Dancing on Ice in 2006, had vowed not to appear in another of her mother’s shows but that changed last year when she appeared in the fourth series of The Syndicate. Explaining why she made the U-turn, Gaynor said: “So it was one of the things, I suppose she asked me if I would play the character and I didn’t want to slip back into that old, boring, ‘You’ re only doing it because your mum has written it,’ the nepotism thing.

“But I thought, ‘I haven’t been in her world for 13 years and I’m available and I’m an out-of-work actress, and the character is there. She’s a great character and I thought, ‘Am I going to sit there and watch someone else do it? No, I’m going to do it.’ I did the usual, I auditioned and did my self-tape and the BBC said yes.”

Aside from his career, Buddhism is a “huge” part of Gaynor’s life and has been for a long time. “I started chanting in 1994. It’s just part of my life now, it’s like brushing my teeth. In the morning, I do it to set up my life and so I can live in a higher life state.,” she told OK! Magazine. “Then, on a night, I chant with gratitude for the incredible day I’ve had. It’s been a lifesaver in this situation.”

She also told The Sun: “I’ve been a Buddhist since I asked a friend 25 years ago what skin cream she used because she was so glowing and she said: “It’s not cream, it’s because I chant.”

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As for her family life, Gaynor has two children – Oliver and Lily – with her partner Mark Pickering. Gaynor has also previously opened up about her own battle with postnatal depression and explained that counseling helped her through her. “That’s why I became a Buddhist really,” she told OK! “So if I can give something back and help, then it might be something. And it’s something I can do as well as being an actor.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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