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Matthew Kelly
David Allan Kelly

(1950-05-09) 9 May 1950 (age 73)
EducationManchester Metropolitan School of Theatre
The Open University
Occupation(s)Actor, presenter
Years active1980–present
Known forTelevision presenter and actor
TelevisionGame for a Laugh (1981–1985)
You Bet! (1991–1995)
Stars In Their Eyes (1993–2004)
After They Were Famous (1999–2005)

Matthew Kelly (born David Allan Kelly, 9 May 1951) is an English actor and television presenter. Having been trained as a theatre actor, he first came to public prominence as a television presenter of ITV light entertainment shows such as Game for a Laugh, 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.

Early life

Kelly was involved with Urmston Musical Theatre, in Urmston, Lancashire, most notably playing the role of Louis in a production of The King and I in 1963.[1]

Kelly appeared regularly at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre. He is a former member of the Workers' Revolutionary Party.[2]


Kelly's first major TV appearance came in the ITV sitcom Holding the Fort (1980–82) and as a panellist in the game show Punchlines (1981–84) hosted by Lennie Bennett on ITV but he became famous as part of the original presenting team on Game for a Laugh for the same producers and network. In 1983 he was the original presenter of Children's ITV (CITV) when launched in January of the same year - and returned to the role sporadically over the next few years. He was the subject of an edition of This Is Your Life in 1983 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in London's Trafalgar Square.[citation needed] For the next 14 years his work centred on light entertainment shows such as Kelly's Eye[3] (TVS sketch show 1985), You Bet! (LWT/ITV) (1991–95) and, most notably, Stars in Their Eyes (Granada/ITV), which he took over from Russ Abbot, who was brought in as a temporary host after original presenter Leslie Crowther suffered serious head injuries in a car crash in October 1992. Abbot had only hosted one episode, an Elvis Presley special. However, it later became apparent that Crowther would not be able to return, as he retired in 1994, and then died two years later. Therefore, Kelly became the permanent host of the show until he left in March 2004.[4] Simultaneously, he was narrator for the ITV series After They Were Famous from 1999 to 2005. He continued to act occasionally, notably in the Channel 4 comedy Relative Strangers, and in the theatre production of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.[citation needed]

Following his departure from Stars in Their Eyes Kelly returned to acting full-time. 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 Lennie 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.[citation needed]

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,[5] then as George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Garrick Theatre, Lichfield, 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 Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, in October 2009.[citation needed]

In January 2010, Kelly 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.[6]

In November 2010, Kelly was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Chester.[7] 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; he reprised the role in 2014. During the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, he played the role of Frank in a production of the play Educating Rita.[citation needed] In 2014, Kelly acted in a short drama called Cherry Cake,[8] and in 2016, he played a one-off role of a carer/grandad in the TV series Casualty. In 2018, he hosted the documentary series Top of the Box.[9] In September 2019, Kelly appeared as the Toy Shop owner in the stage production of Big.[citation needed]

Personal life

Kelly married Sarah Gray in 1975. They have mostly lived separately, he in London and she in Cheshire, but remain married.[10]

In January 2003, Kelly was arrested by police over allegations of child sex abuse, which arose as part of Operation Arundel. The following month he was cleared of all charges.[11][12] In response to his public arrest, and the later media fallout that drew public criticism, his treatment was raised as a motion in Parliament to consider "ways to protect the anonymity of those investigated until formally charged with an offence."[13] This was later debated within Parliament as part of a wider response to investigations into allegations of historical crimes.[14] In the same year, Kelly appeared on The Frank Skinner Show to discuss the host's jokes, which took aim at his alleged abuse of children.[15]


  1. ^ The Urmston Musical Theatre: "The King and I 1963" Archived 2 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 13 November 2008
  2. ^ Synnot, Siobhan (2 March 2003). "Still stars in his eyes". Scotland on Sunday. Johnston Press. Archived from the original on 21 July 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  3. ^ "Kelly's Eye[20/07/1985] (1985) | BFI". 2 July 2015. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Street trio bid farewell to Kelly". BBC News. BBC. 14 March 2004. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Matthew Kelly Claims Victory for Barker at Arcola". 21 January 2009. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  6. ^ Barclay, Alison (7 May 2010). "Sir Ian McKellen is mistaken for a tramp on a Melbourne bench between Waiting for Godot rehearsals". Herald Sun. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Stars of sport, entertainment and education honoured" (Press release). 4 November 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Cherry Cake". Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  9. ^ Wright, Jonathan (20 May 2018). "Sunday's best TV: The Handmaid's Tale; A Very English Scandal". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Archived from the original on 6 June 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  10. ^ "Matthew Kelly arrested in child abuse probe". Belfasttelegraph.
  11. ^ Payne, Stewart (25 February 2003). "Matthew Kelly in the clear over child sex". The Daily Telegraph.
  12. ^ "Television presenter Kelly cleared of child sex abuse allegations". The Scotsman. 25 February 2003.
  13. ^ "MR MATTHEW KELLY EDM #763". 24 February 2003.
  14. ^ "Hansard 3 Nov 2003 : Column 569". 3 November 2003.
  15. ^ "Kelly tackles comedian over sex abuse 'jokes'". 28 October 2003.