KAY Mellor has met several lottery winners and, she says, “it’s not always a happy ending”.

“The euphoria of winning the lottery sometimes only lasts five or six days,” says the Bafta-winning screenwriter, who has interviewed jackpot winners as research for her four series of The Syndicate.

Each series has explored the impact of a major lottery win on a syndicate of ordinary people. The first series, in 2012, centred on a group of supermarket workers; the second was set in a hospital, filmed at St Luke’s Hospital in Bradford, and the third focussed on the staff of a country house owned by a family struggling to maintain it.

In the fourth series - now two episodes in on BBC1 and a hit with critics and fans - the lottery syndicate is comprised of young, low-paid kennel Yorkshire workers who, fearing they have been cheated out of their multi-million pound jackpot win, find themselves chasing a fraudster on the glamorous French Riviera, where they are well out of their depth.

As with previous series of The Syndicate, scenes were shot in and around the Bradford district - this time in Apperley Bridge and Burley-in-Wharfedale - and filming took place in both West Yorkshire and Monaco. Not easy in a pandemic.

The cast, which includes Neil Morrisey, Joe Sugg, Gaynor Faye, Taj Atwal, Emily Head and Katie McGlynn, lived in a bubble together and had Covid tests throughout the filming process. “It was all testing, testing, testing,” says Kay. “This is about a group of people, a syndicate, and we couldn’t do it with social distancing. The actors dedicated their life to this. They were wonderful.”

Kay reveals that she doesn’t write with specific actors in mind: “Some people come in the room and you think ‘They’re nothing like what I had in my head’ but they grab it and own it.”

Casting YouTube star Joe Sugg in his first TV acting role could have been risky, but Kay is delighted with his performance as Sam, an aspiring rock star and reluctant boyfriend. “It was a long shot but I saw his self tape and thought ‘He’s good’. He took direction well, he really listened, he was fantastic,” says Kay.

“I learned a lot from the other actors, and from Kay. I loved it,” says Joe.

Even the canine cast is impressive - including Kay’s own dog. “He’s called Happy. He was the inspiration behind setting it in a kennels,” she reveals. “He’s a bit of a reluctant actor.”

This series of The Syndicate is, says Kay, not so much a story of winning the lottery - it’s a story of missing winnings. “Who’s got the money? And what will happen to the syndicate while they’re trying to find it?” she says.

Adds Gaynor Faye, who plays the lottery cheat’s heartbroken fiancee: “Winning the lottery isn’t always what it seems. We’re envious of that life of fast cars etc but money doesn’t necessarily buy you happiness.”

But that doesn’t stop us from dreaming...and even Kay and the cast have an idea of what they would do with a lottery win.

“I actually started playing the lottery when I found out I’d got the role of Sam,” says Joe Sugg. “I won six pounds. If I won the lottery big time I’d bring back Robot Wars in my back garden. I’d be happy battling giant robots.”

For Kieran Urquhart, who plays young dad Jake, a lottery win would mean a quad bike track, while for Taj Atwal, who plays Sam’s long-suffering girlfriend Roxy, it would be simply a case of “getting my car fixed”.

Katherine Rose Morley, who plays syndicate organiser Keeley, says: “I’d go on a big ski-ing holiday with my mates.”

Neil Morrisey knows one thing: he wouldn’t live on the French Riviera. “I’d been to the Cote d’Azur before, and I’d been to the casinos,” he says. “It’s very beautiful but I wouldn’t want to live there. It’s all fantasy.”

And what about Kay? “I’d open a studio and bring in new actors and writers to work together,” says the creator of hit TV dramas such as Fat Friends, Band of Gold and In the Club.

“Drama can be a great tool for young people to get their voices through and nurture talent. I’d say ‘Bring your stories in and let’s workshop them with actors’. That’s what I’d spend my lottery win on.”

She adds: “Two young women made a film on their phone and sent it to us at Rollem Productions and we sent it out to a BBC commissioner, who loved the fact that it was so raw and visceral. I love to work with people who have the courage to just go with an idea.”

Whatever happens to the current crop of lottery dreamers, Kay hasn’t ruled out another series of The Syndicate. “There’s something cooking,” she smiles. “It’s not quite done yet - and I’ve got other things on the go right now - but there’s definitely something simmering.”

* The Syndicate continues on BBC1 on Tuesday at 9pm.