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Lorraine Kelly urges opportunities for ‘kids like me’ to break into TV at Baftas

Lorraine Kelly in the press room after being presented with the Bafta Special Award (Ian West/PA)
Lorraine Kelly in the press room after being presented with the Bafta Special Award (Ian West/PA)

Lorraine Kelly said “don’t pull up the ladder” to those from working-class backgrounds to break into the TV industry, as she was presented with a special award at the TV Baftas ceremony.

Succession star Brian Cox presented the award to the “queen of daytime TV”, who has hosted ITV chat show Lorraine for the past 30 years.

“I suppose if I’ve learned anything at all over the past 40 years, it’s what’s the point of having all that experience if you don’t actually share it, and if you don’t actually pass it on, and help other people,” Kelly said on stage.

“So I would just say don’t pull up the ladder, please make it possible for kids like me from my background, from a very working class Glasgow background, rise the same from Dundee.

“We’ve had amazing opportunities, but I just want everyone to have those opportunities the same that we did.”

It comes after she said it is now “almost impossible” for those from working-class backgrounds to break into the industry, calling for more opportunities outside of London – having been told she would never make it on the screen due to her Scottish accent.

BAFTA TV Awards 2024 – London
Lorraine Kelly attending the Bafta TV Awards 2024 (Ian West/PA)

Speaking backstage, she said the lack of opportunity “comes down to money a lot”.

“I was only able to come to London and work because I got help with a place to rent and I got a reasonable salary and that actually was the only reason that I was able to do it. I was in a very fortunate position,” she said.

Kelly said her husband Steve Smith was an electrician in Dundee at the time and he came to work for the BBC in London.

She added: “He got put up in a hostel, the BBC had hostels for people from all over the UK, and maybe we have to start looking at that.

“I know that ITV are doing amazing things, they really try really hard and other media organisations as well.

“But I think (it can be) as simple as giving somebody somewhere to live that’s affordable for them.”

BAFTA TV Awards 2024 – London
Mark Heyes, Lorraine Kelly and Rosie Smith attending the Bafta TV Awards 2024 (Ian West/PA)

On-stage, Kelly thanked her mother and father for her “work ethic”, as well as her “fantastic” husband and her daughter Rosie, who is pregnant with her first child.

“And my daughter Rosie who is working on the most exciting production. She’s having a baby and making us grandparents and I’m so proud – this means the world,” she said of the award.

Speaking backstage, she said “there’s no better title in the world” than being a grandmother.

“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet to be honest, but I’m just so proud of my girl, she’s got a lovely, lovely partner and they’re really happy and I’m going to be Granny Smith – my married name is Smith,” she said.

When asked how long she would continue fronting Lorraine, she said: “I’ll be in there in my zimmer frame, as long as people want me to do it, I’m there.”

“I’m on the telly tomorrow but I’m going to celebrate tonight,” Kelly added on stage.

BAFTA TV Awards 2024 – London
Brian Cox attending the Bafta TV Awards 2024, at the Royal Festival Hall in London (Ian West/PA)

Scottish actor Cox described Kelly as having “infectious humour, boundless enthusiasm and genuine, genuine kindness”.

The 64-year-old said she was “honoured” that viewers of the show “think of me as a pal – they think of me as their friend”.

“I never, ever, take it for granted that so many people trust me with their stories,” she said.

Now one of television’s most recognisable faces, Kelly was told of her Bafta award live on air on March 25 by Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid during her weekday show.

She was recognised for her “outstanding contribution” over her 40-year career in broadcasting, since she joined TV-am in 1984.

Previous names to win the special award include Clare Balding, Idris Elba and Sir Lenny Henry.