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EDITIONS
Monday, 24 February, 2003, 16:12 GMT
Star with bittersweet take on fame
Matthew Kelly
Mr Kelly started in showbusiness as a teenager
Police have dropped their investigation into Matthew Kelly following an allegation of sexual abuse against boys in the 1970s.

Matthew Kelly was determined to succeed in the world of showbusiness after seeing a pantomime at the age of six.

He first found fame co-presenting Game for a Laugh, the British equivalent of the US series Candid Camera, with Sarah Kennedy, Henry Kelly and Jeremy Beadle.

A stint on You Bet! saw him performing various "dares" as presenter between 1990-1995.

They can say whatever they like about my sexuality, I don't consider it to be an insult

Matthew Kelly
But it is his time at the helm of TV talent show Stars in their Eyes which has cemented Kelly's place in the public eye.

Featuring members of the public dressing up as pop stars, the show has also had celebrity and children's editions, and has been a consistent ratings winner for ITV1.

Born in Manchester, Kelly's first job at the age of 17 was making custard pies for Mr Pastry, the BBC's resident clown and an early children's television comedy performer.

His first major breaks came at the Liverpool Everyman in the 1970s, alongside other then aspiring actors like Pete Postlethwaite, Anthony Sher and Julie Walters.

Sexuality speculation

Despite his success in primetime television, his passion for the stage remains, with a recent stint in Peter Pan in Birmingham and a well-received turn as Lenny in the adaptation of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men which is due to tour.

Married with two grown-up children, Kelly has always laughed off speculation about his sexuality.

"On the whole, the tabloids have been very nice to me," he told one newspaper profile.

Stars in their Eyes is vacuous, but it's the most fabulous vacuousness that you've ever seen

Matthew Kelly
"They can say whatever they like about my sexuality, I don't consider it to be an insult.

"I am camp, but I'm still a bloke - and I'm not going to stand up and shout 'I'm not gay' because who gives a stuff anyway?

"It's the year 2000 and I find it very strange."

Kelly met his wife at college when both were teenagers, but he says they have spent most of their 33 years of marriage living apart.

'Way of living'

He told one interviewer: "People think our marriage is an odd arrangement, and yes, it is.

"They go, 'Ooh, she lives up there in Cheshire, you live down here in London'.

"All I can tell you is that it does work. Most of the time, but not always.

"She understands the way I need to do my life. And the way she does hers. You work out a way of living, and a way of loving.

"If people assume I'm gay, they can assume what they want. And they do. It doesn't bother me, but it upsets her."

Wife Sarah now runs a centre for young people with a progressive disability, of which Matthew is president.

Mid-life crisis

The star is openly sceptical about the nature of modern fame, suggesting he is famous only for being famous.

He admits that in his 30s he was badly affected by the pressures of celebrity, which led to a mid-life crisis.

"Once your success is finished and your fame goes on, you feel like a fraud."

And he makes no claims for his talent show as anything other than entertainment.

"Stars in their Eyes is vacuous, but it's the most fabulous vacuousness that you've ever seen, because it has marvellous production values."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Torin Douglas
"He's one of those classic family entertainers"
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24 Feb 03 | UK News
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