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Matthew Kelly (born David Allan Kelly, 9 May 1950, Urmston, Lancashire, England) is an English television presenter and Olivier-award winning actor. Having been trained as a theatre actor, he first came to public prominence as a television presenter of ITV light entertainment shows such as You Bet! and Stars in Their Eyes. In the 2000s he returned to acting, appearing in several West End productions, while also acting in some television roles.
As a child, Kelly lived on Primrose Avenue in the town and became interested in acting when at the Urmston Musical Theatre, most notably playing the role of Louis in a production of The King and I in 1963. He continues to be President of the theatre group.
After 1961, Kelly went to Urmston Grammar School. He trained as an actor at The Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre (formerly Manchester Polytechnic) and joined in a theatre group which included Julie Walters and Pete Postlethwaite. After graduation, he made his professional debut at the Pavilion Theatre in Rhyl. After this debut he appeared regularly at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre. He is a former member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party.
Kelly's first major TV appearances were as a panellist in the gameshow Punchlines hosted by Lennie Bennett, (1980–1984) (ITV) and in the ITV sitcom Holding The Fort (1980–1982) but he became famous as part of the original team on Game for a Laugh for the same producers and network. For the next 14 years his work centred on light entertainment shows such as Kellys Eye (TVS sketch show 1985), You Bet! (LWT/ITV) (1991–1995) and, most notably, Stars in Their Eyes (Granada/ITV), which he took over from Leslie Crowther – at first temporarily after Crowther had suffered serious head injuries in a car crash in October 1992. However, it later became apparent that Crowther would not be able to return. Thereafter, Kelly hosted the show until March 2004. He was also the first CITV presenter and continued to act occasionally, notably in the Channel 4 comedy Relative Strangers, and in the theatre production of The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari.
He has appeared in a number of television and theatre productions. In 2005 he was a member of the cast in BBC One's Bleak House as Mr. Turveydrop. He also played a serial killer in 2005's Cold Blood and its 2007 sequel, as well as the explorer Giovanni Belzoni in BBC One's Egypt. On the stage he won an Olivier Award in 2004 for his portrayal of Lenny in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men at the Savoy Theatre. Other work includes Ripafratta in Mirandolina at the Royal Exchange Theatre in August 2006 which he swiftly followed by appearing as a well-received Antonio Salieri in Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus. For a short period in summer 2007 he played the character Willie Thorn in the farce Out For Justice in Sydney, Australia's Royal Court Theatre. The play was a huge success and writer Vicky Ledbrook was quoted as saying Kelly is one of the finest comic actors of his generation.
From December 2008 to January 2009, he joined Stefanie Powers, Craig McLachlan and Christopher Biggins at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton to play May, one of the ugly sisters, in the pantomime Cinderella alongside his son Matthew Rixon. In 2009 he was on stage to high critical acclaim, in Howard Barker's Victory: Choices in Reaction, at the Arcola Theatre, then as George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre, followed by a season at London's Trafalgar Studios. The summer was spent as Pandarus in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida at The Globe in London. He opened in Comedians at the Hammersmith Lyric in October 2009.
In January 2010 he replaced Simon Callow as Pozzo in the revival of Waiting for Godot at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, alongside Ian McKellen (Estragon), Roger Rees (Vladimir) and Ronald Pickup (Lucky). He continued in the successful production of Waiting for Godot at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne in May 2010.
In November 2010, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Chester. In March 2012 he returned to mainstream television by appearing in the ITV comedy Benidorm, playing Cyril Babcock, a judge for the hotel's dance competition. During the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe he played the role of Frank in a stage adaptation of Educating Rita
Kelly and his wife live apart; they have two adult children. Kelly was arrested by police in January 2003, over allegations of child sex abuse, which arose as part of Operation Arundel. The following month, it was announced that, due to insufficient evidence, he would not be prosecuted. However, he was cautioned over possession of cocaine, which had been found during a raid on his home.
- The Urmston Musical Theatre: "The King and I 1963". Retrieved 13 November 2008
- Synnot, Siobhan (2 March 2003). "Still stars in his eyes". Scotland on Sunday. Johnston Press. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- "Matthew Kelly Claims Victory for Barker at Arcola". WhatsOnStage.com. Whatsonstage. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
- "Sir Ian McKellen is mistaken for a tramp on a Melbourne bench between Waiting for Godot rehearsals". Herald Sun. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
- "Stars of sport, entertainment and education honoured" (Press release). chester.ac.uk. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
- Kelly's fight back to fame
- "Matthew Kelly in the clear over child sex". Daily Telegraph. 25 February 2003. Retrieved 2013-07-13.
- "Television presenter Kelly cleared of child sex abuse allegations". The Scotsman. 25 February 2003. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
- "TV star Kelly: charges dropped". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
|Host of You Bet!
|Host of Stars in their Eyes