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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 18:19 GMT
Kelly's fight back to fame
Kelly hosts the Stars in their Eyes talent show
TV presenter Matthew Kelly has been cleared by police of an allegation of sex abuse against a young boy.

But after a turbulent few months in the public eye he now faces the task of ensuring his career and reputation get back on track.

Matthew Kelly is a household name, famed for presenting such shows as ITV1's Stars in Their Eyes and BBC One's City Hospital.

It came as no surprise that the serious allegation made in January against such a well-known celebrity prompted a media frenzy.

Newspapers probed into his private life and accusations were made about his holiday home in Sri Lanka.

But despite the tabloid attention, Kelly was already receiving high-profile support from his celebrity friends.

Showbiz colleagues including Julie Walters, Pete Postlethwaite, Robert Lindsay and Alan Rickman wrote an open letter condemning the coverage of the case, defending their friend as a "caring" man.

And his Stars in their Eyes bosses also agreed to stick by him, although he was replaced for three celebrity specials by presenter Davina McCall.

Now Granada television, which makes the talent show, is looking forward to welcoming him back for a forthcoming series.

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

They have even forgiven him for the drug caution he received.

Management at the Brimingham Rep, the theatre where Kelly was arrested after a performance of Peter Pan, issued a statement saying they are delighted he has been fully vindicated.

He is due back at the theatre at Easter as part of the national tour of the production Of Mice and Men.

Kelly has also received the support of the public.

When he took to the stage for the first night of the touring production Of Mice and Men at the Liverpool Playhouse - just weeks after his arrest - he was given a standing ovation by the mixed-age audience.

Kelly has devoted his life to showbusiness, beginning his career at the age of 17.

Ticket sales have been good

He was determined to succeed 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.

But it is his time at the helm of 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.

Kelly has stepped down from presenting the children's version, a decision Granada says he took before the scandal began.

Matthew Kelly
He has been married for 33 years but lives apart from his wife
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 break came at the Liverpool Everyman in the 1970s, alongside other then aspiring actors like Pete Postlethwaite, Anthony Sher and Julie Walters.

Sexuality speculation

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.

"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?"

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.

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.

Modern fame

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

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

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.





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WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Torin Douglas
"He's one of those classic family entertainers"



SEE ALSO:
TV star denies sex allegation
24 Jan 03 |  UK News


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