EVERYONE dreams of winning the lottery, don’t they? But anyone who watched Kay Mellor’s acclaimed TV drama The Syndicate will know that when it comes to winning big, be careful what you wish for...

The first series of The Syndicate was about a group of supermarket workers who win a multi-million pound jackpot, and find that overnight wealth brings its own problems. Three more series followed - set in a hospital, stately home and kennels - and were largely filmed in the Bradford district.

The Syndicate has always been a family affair. Written and produced by Leeds scriptwriter Kay Mellor, her daughter Gaynor Faye was script editor on the first series.

“I just knew it was going to be a hit because she captured the brothers, the family, the whole arena of what winning the lottery and such a substantial amount of money brings to people - both the good and the not so good,” says Gaynor.

“My mum writes for people, not accolades. The people who watch her shows, those are the people she relates to, the people she champions. She encapsulates them and shows what it is to be a normal, everyday person.

“At times it’s funny, at times dramatic or moving, but the key thing is that everyone can see themselves in her characters and that’s why people love her work.”

With a cast that included Timothy Spall, Joanna Page and Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis, BBC1 drama The Syndicate was a hit when it began in 2012. Now the first series has been adapted for the stage; it was Kay’s final venture into theatre before her death two years ago.

Kay had already asked Gaynor to co-direct the project with her, and now the actress is going it alone. It has, says Gaynor, been rather daunting. “Mum’s shoes are big ones to fill, but I understand what her vision was for this production because I’ve been by her side from the very beginning,” she says. “I’m excited for everyone to see it.”

As well as directing the play, Gaynor joins the cast on stage, playing the lottery representative who, in honour of her mum, she has called Kay.

Adding to the family feel of The Syndicate is news that Gaynor’s son, Oliver Anthony, has joined the cast in the role of Jamie, the bad boy of two brothers. Says Oliver: “There’s real heart to this show, there’s a lot of love for it. Kay had been mentoring me, she knew how hard the industry can be and said she saw potential in me. She really helped me learn the business both in front of the camera and behind.

“Having acted in series four of The Syndicate, and playing Jamie in development workshops of the play, I’m chuffed to bits to be making my stage acting debut alongside my mum in my grandmother’s final play. This production is in honour of her and all she achieved and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and hopefully doing her proud.”

Lottery win joy: Oliver Anthony punching the airLottery win joy: Oliver Anthony punching the air (Image: Dave Hogan)

What can you tell us about Jamie? “He brings this energy to the stage. He’s three dimensional, he’s got a switch which can make him villainous, that’s amazing to play as an actor, but then he’s also got this real sense of love and connection with his brother. I don’t have a brother but I have a sister and I understand that sibling bond.

“I just love that he’s brash but he gets away with it because he’s got a cheeky smile and a glint in his eye!”

While some folk might not like the idea of working with their parents, for Oliver it’s a chance to learn from his mum.

“She’s an amazing actress and is absolutely killing it in her directing role. To be able to work alongside her and learn from her is an utter privilege,” he says. “I feel very lucky to have someone of her experience and talent coaching me through this. I really want to make her proud.”

The Syndicate is about five supermarket workers who win £24 million on the lottery just as their jobs are under threat. Will a share of the jackpot make their dreams come true or their nightmares a reality? One thing’s for sure - the win of a lifetime will change the lives, loves and relationships of these syndicate members forever.

The show is the latest of Kay’s TV dramas to journey to the stage, following Fat Friends The Musical and Band of Gold which, like The Syndicate, were collaborations between Kay’s company Rollem and theatre producer Josh Andrews.

For Samantha Giles and Brooke Vincent, the chance to work on a Kay Mellor production was a dream.

Samantha, who left Emmerdale last year after playing Bernice Blackstock for the last 26 years, takes on the role of kind-hearted check-out stalwart Denise. Says Samantha: “Life hasn’t been good to her, she’s totally different to Bernice which is so lovely to play. Denise is quite mumsy at the start, always putting everybody else before herself. It’s interesting to see the change that happens during the play, especially when she gets her hands on the money!”

Samantha Giles as checkout worker Denise Samantha Giles as checkout worker Denise (Image: Dave Hogan)

Adds Samantha: “Kay’s writing is so good; real stories and wonderful characters that people can relate to.”

Brooke, who played Sophie Webster in Coronation Street from 2004-2019, plays Amy, who dreams of a glamorous lifestyle. “I’ve taken a step back to have my two boys so this is my return to acting. I’m so excited,” she says. “I love Kay’s work, it’s so real and there’s such a warm northern humour.”

Oliver Anthony as Jamie and Brooke Vincent as Amy Oliver Anthony as Jamie and Brooke Vincent as Amy (Image: Dave Hogan)

“Amy is more Rosie Webster than Sophie Webster! I’ve never played a dolly bird with hair extensions before, I’m such a tomboy in real life, so that’s been great to take on because usually when you read a role you can see yourself in the character. I love that Amy is so different to me.”

Being on tour with the play means Brooke has had to juggle life with sons Mexx, four, and Monroe, two, who she shares with her partner, West Bromwich Albion footballer Kean Bryan. “Many of the shows aren’t too far from home so I’ll try and go back as much as possible, to take the kids to nursery then get to work,” she says.

“It’s different from my days at Corrie when I’d walk in, get my hair and make-up done, then someone would hand me my clothes and I’d pop on set. It’s completely different - but that’s why I’m so excited for it.”

* The Syndicate runs at the Alhambra from July 16-20. Call (01274) 432000 or visit bradford-theatres.co.uk