Famous for her television roles, actress Gaynor Faye left her role in popular ITV soap Emmerdale after six years to perform in the world stage premiere of Band of Gold, written and directed by her mum, Kay Mellor.
Touring the UK, the stage version of the hit television show Band of Gold debuted in Leeds and arrives at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham in March 2020. Here’s what theatre goers can expect…
It’s the world stage premiere for Band of Gold – how did it come about? And how did you get involved?
Kay Mellor had the TV series out 25 years ago – a ground breaking TV series, putting working ladies at the front of the series and making them the heroes of the show. She made a big choice to kill off one of the leading actresses in episode one and the nation went ‘WHAT?’ because people just didn’t do that… And that creates this whodunnit…
She wanted to show the real lives of these women who were working on The Lane, trying to put a roof over their head and food in their stomachs. It wasn’t a choice to be a working girl. It was out of desperation. And she wanted to give these women a voice.
There’s all these characters that come into it – there’s a love story, there’s a murder, then there’s the camaraderie between the women.
And Kay kept getting asked for years ‘when are you going to bring Band of Gold back?’ but she didn’t really want to bring it back to TV, she felt like she’d said what she wanted to say on television and sometimes it’s best to leave things on a big high. But after she’d done a really successful stage version of Fat Friends she thought ‘I’ll see if I can stage _Band of Gold_’.
And that’s when I got involved. I was working on Emmerdale at the time and got involved in workshopping Band of Gold and people just loved it… absolutely loved it. 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 – and that was a big choice to make.
So, you left Emmerdale specifically to be in Band of Gold?
I did. It was a big thing. But I’m absolutely loving it. I’m having a great time – doing theatre again is just fantastic.
Did you watch Band of Gold when it was on television first time around?
I did. Yes. I LOVED IT. I was one of those people who were talking about it by the watercooler. I think Band of Gold created watercooler moments. Because it was before anything. It was before The Vice, it was before Cracker. It really set up this genre of dark, gritty drama.
More than 15 million people tuned in to watch Band of Gold when it was on TV in the 1990s – is there anything that will surprise fans of the show?
Lots of people have come to see the play who have never watched the TV show, so it stands up on its own. It is still relevant with austerity today – we haven’t moved on at all in 25 years… in fact we are in a worse state.
In terms of surprises, there are some incredible performances: it stars Shayne Ward who’s amazing, and people will see him in a totally different guise. Kieron Richardson from Hollyoaks and he brings out an incredible performance too. Then there’s myself, I play Rose, a role I’ve never played before, she’s quite a scary and a matriarch. She’s rough, but there’s something soft in there. Emma Osman who’s new and takes the leading part and she’s completely new and fabulous. There are just so many people from so many different career paths – we’ve got comedians, singers, theatre people, TV people, soap people – a real eclectic of performers who all come together and gel really well.
The set is beautiful too – you feel like you’re watching television, but you feel like you’re right in it. The audience feel like they’re part of it. It’s a real TV-theatre fusion. And there’s also a lot of humour too. It’s dark, but there’s lots of light moments too. It’s a big night out.
Your mum, Kay Mellor, wrote Band of Gold and is directing it – were you a shoe-in for the role?
She 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. It would’ve been great for me to able to go back to Emmerdale, but I had to leave to do the theatre job, so it was a very big decision.
Working with my mum, Kay Mellor, is fantastic. She’s an amazing director – ask any of the actors… she gives us the freedom to discover what we wanted to play and she cares so much about the character. Everybody in the cast was cherry-picked, lots of people were desperate to play the parts because it’s such a huge opportunity. It’s getting rave reviews everywhere we go, fingers crossed it continues in Cheltenham!
By Michelle Fyrne
Saturday 29 February 2020
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