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Last Updated: Monday, 23 February, 2004, 10:30 GMT
Kelly triumphs to reclaim spotlight
Matthew Kelly
Kelly has revived his career after being cleared of sex abuse claims
A year after being cleared of child sex abuse, Stars In Their Eyes presenter Matthew Kelly has won the best actor title at London's prestigious Laurence Olivier theatre awards.

Matthew Kelly is back making headlines - this time for the right reasons.

The Olivier award marks the high point of what has been a major comeback for Kelly after his career was almost ruined in January 2003.

Kelly, 53, was arrested after being accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in the 1970s.

He vigorously denied the allegations - and police dropped the case due to "insufficient evidence" in February.

Just days later, he went ahead with his planned appearance in Of Mice And Men - for which he has won the award - and with the support of a number of showbusiness friends, has fought to retain his career.

His performance was widely acclaimed and the touring regional production transferred to the West End's Savoy Theatre.

Matthew Kelly, Stars In Their Eyes
Stars In Their Eyes became one of the UK's favourite shows
Born in Manchester on 9 May 1950, Kelly left school at 16 and was determined to go into showbusiness after seeing a pantomime at the age of six.

His first job aged 17 was making custard pies for Mr Pastry, the BBC's resident clown and the forerunner of children's comedy on television.

In the 1970s he began acting in repertory, progressing to the Liverpool Everyman at the same time as established performers such as Julie Walters, Pete Poselthwaite, Bernard Hill and Kevin Lloyd.

Kelly had his major TV break in 1981 with Game For A Laugh, the hidden camera show he co-presented with Sarah Kennedy, Henry Kelly and Jeremy Beadle.

He went on to host the game show You Bet!, then Stars In Their Eyes, the durable show in which members of the public mimic pop stars.

The show and its "Tonight Matthew I'm going to be..." catchphrase made him a household name across the UK.

Matthew Kelly
Matthew Kelly's victory seals his comeback after personal troubles
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'.

Once your success is finished and your fame goes on, you feel like a fraud
Matthew Kelly

"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."

He 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."

If you don't have your name, you don't have anything - and that was the thing that was most frightening
Matthew Kelly
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."

Speaking after his police ordeal, Kelly has said he was afraid the arrest would ruin his reputation and his career.

"If you don't have your name, you don't have anything - and that was the thing that was most frightening," he said.

He has also been told he will never find out exactly what happened. "But I'd like to. It would help me a lot."

TV host Kelly wins Olivier award
23 Feb 04  |  Entertainment
TV host Kelly recalls arrest fear
27 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
Kelly's comeback performance
26 Feb 03  |  Entertainment

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