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Kelly Taylor (EastEnders)
Kelly Taylor EE
EastEnders character
Duration 2001, 2002–2004
Profile
Occupation Holiday Rep

Kelly Taylor was a fictional character in the popular BBC soap opera EastEnders. She was played by Brooke Kinsella.

Kelly had a troubled youth, forced to grow up on the streets and sell her body to get by. She finally found some stability in Walford and made a true friend in Zoe Slater.

Character creationEdit

The character Kelly Taylor was introduced in December 2001 by the executive producer of EastEnders, John Yorke. Kelly was introduced on a short-term basis, as part of a storyline that saw the regular character, Zoe Slater (Michelle Ryan), living rough on the streets of London and being taken in by a Madam of a prostitution organisation, Roxy Drake (Tracy Brabin). Kelly was one of the young girls already working as prostitute for Roxy.

Actress Brooke Kinsella was cast in the role. In the past, Kinsella had auditioned for the parts of Janine Butcher, Zoe Slater and Sonia Fowler, but had been unsuccessful. Brooke has commented, "I went up for the part of every girl in the Square. I was closest to getting the part of Zoe. I did workshops with all the Slater girls but you have to say they are all dark and look very alike while I'm blonde. Obviously that wasn't the right one for me. It was hard at the time but I'm very glad because I love playing Kelly. She's totally different from any other character and she's good fun to play."[1]

The character was only brought in to appear in eight episodes, however the producers were impressed with Kinsella's performance and she was asked to return to the role the following year. In the storyline, Kelly ran away from Roxy and she and Zoe went on an extended holiday to the Canary Islands. Kinsella has said that establishing Kelly as a regular character was a gradual process: "Kelly wasn't automatically made a regular and I kept thinking, `It will be just a few more episodes'. It's a horrible feeling, not knowing if you have a job or not."[1] By the end of 2002, Kelly and Zoe had returned to the serial, and Kelly's first big storyline was a brief romance with the character Spencer Moon (Chris Parker). Kinsella has said, "That was the first on-screen kiss for both of us and that was the first time I thought there might be places for Kelly to go because it didn't involve Zoe. Kelly was interacting with other characters on [Albert Square]. It came bit by bit. She moved in with the Slaters, helped Zoe set up the stall and that's all slowly securing her on the Square."[1]


Character developmentEdit

Friendship with ZoeEdit

The frienship between Kelly and Zoe was a recurring storyline for both characters. In the British press, the characters were compared to two former popular characters, who also shared a close screen friendship, Bianca Butcher (Patsy Palmer) and Tiffany Mitchell (Martine McCutcheon). Kinsella has commented, "It is nice to be compared because they were great [characters] but, hopefully, [Michelle Ryan] and I will bring our own characters to light and show what we can do. We have so much in common and we balance each other out - when she's crazy I'll calm her down and vice- versa. It's worked well, which is why Kelly has been kept on, which is great for me but also for Michelle because she's got somebody to have fun with. Kelly's been one of the slowest developing characters and that's been good for me. I wasn't thrown into it and having Michelle has been great for me."[1]

On-screen, the characters moved into a flat together, worked together, and fought over the same boys. In December 2003, the characters made headlines in the UK press, after EastEnders screened a lesbian kiss between Kelly and Zoe.[2] The storyline was featured in a special New Year's Eve episode that was filmed on-location in Sctoland.[3] In the storyline, a group of teenagers had travelled from London to Sctoland for a New Year's Eve rave; however, the bus they were driving crashed, leaving them stranded and injured on the freezing cold Sctottish moors. While stranded, Kelly cared for an injured Zoe, they become over-emotional, and kiss. Kinsella has explained the reasons behind the kiss: "They're stuck in the hills, thinking they're going to die - it's a way of saying goodbye and also of showing how much they love each other as friends. Which is quite sweet really."[4] She claims that the lesbian kiss was made easier, due to the fact that she was kissing her off-screen best-friend: "That made it so much easier. We thought we were just going to be laughing and giggling the whole way through, but we were very professional. It was so cold that we just wanted to get it over with. We were shaking from cold -not from nerves-and it was raining, so we just thought, `Let's do it and get it done with'. I was really scared but it was fine. Now it just seems like a dream, I can't really remember it. We laugh about it now. When it came down to it, the truth was that it was just like any other screen kiss.[4] The episode featuring the lesbian kiss attracted 9.5million viewers, and the precise moment that they kissed was watched by 44% of the entire television audience.[5]

The kiss between the characters received criticim. The lesbian news site "AfterEllen.com" branded it a "gratuitous ratings-stunt…The writers bottled out and the two young women dismissed it as a one-off, assuring each other that neither of them was “like that,” leaving lesbian and bisexual viewers feeling cheated. This was a wasted opportunity, a chance to explore an emotionally complex situation between best friends that became just another exploitive TV moment instead."[6] In an interview about homosexual soap opera characters in The Guardian, scriptwriter Daran Little criticised UK lesbian soap opera characters: "Most lesbian characters are so lipstick. They start off straight and, lo and behold, they just can't resist it. You can see the straight fantasy at work behind the character". Journalist Paul Flynn stated that Zoe was an example of this, describing her as a "tabloid-friendly 18-year-old - who…brushed with lesbianism for all of five minutes."[7]


Kinsella has defended the kiss. In an interview she commented, "It's not a gratuitous ratings getting move, it's not some kind of big lesbian kiss. It's the way two best friends who have a lot of love for each other show their emotions."[4]

StorylinesEdit

Kelly first appeared on screen in December 2001. She was a young prostitute who was being pimped by the malicious Roxy Drake. She had been thrown out by her family when she was a young girl and Roxy had taken her in off the streets. Kelly felt she owed her and she had soon been persuaded to act as an underage prostitute for Roxy's clientele. Zoe Slater, another runaway, had also been taken under Roxy's wing and she gave her a place to stay. Here, she met and befriended Kelly, and on Roxy's instruction, Kelly set about trying to convince Zoe to prostitute herself too. Zoe refused to oblige, after which a furious Roxy started demanding money from her in exchange for her hospitality. On Christmas Day that year, Kelly helped Zoe escape Roxy's evil clutches and Zoe returned to Albert Square, leaving Kelly to face up to a fuming Roxy.

Kelly was next seen in August 2002 when Zoe ran away from home for a second time, following her father's heart attack. She and Zoe decided to leave England and went to stay in Tenerife with one of Kelly's rich punters. In December that year, Zoe returned to Walford and brought Kelly back with her. She took up lodging with the rest of the Slaters and was soon welcomed in as part of the family. Now that she'd given up prostitution, Kelly was strapped for cash, so Zoe decided that she should become a partner in her clothing stall, and the two ran it together in Bridge Street market.

Men in Walford Edit

On New Years Eve, Kelly set her sights on the inexperienced Spencer Moon and the two shared a kiss. This led Spencer to imagine that something more serious was on the cards and he adorned Kelly with gifts and flowers in the hope that she would agree to date him. However, it was just a bit of fun for Kelly and she rebuffed all his further advances.

In order to buy into the stall, Kelly had stolen money from her ex-punter, Simon, and in January 2002 he showed up demanding that she pay him back. When she couldn't repay, he threatened her with the police, so Kelly conned Spencer into giving her money and also stole money from the stall to raise the funds. Zoe soon discovered that the money was missing, so Kelly blamed Spencer and then fled. When the truth finally came out, Zoe managed to talk Kelly out of leaving Walford and she quickly forgave her. Spencer decided to give up on Kelly after this, but on the night of his 18th birthday in April, Kelly decided to give him a night to remember by taking his virginity. Spencer was ecstatic, but his brother, Alfie, managed to upset things by offering Kelly money to take Spencer out for a second date. Kelly wrongly assumed that Alfie knew about her past as a prostitute and furiously accused Spencer of trying to buy her body, which put a halt on their potential relationship.

Later in the year, Kelly and Zoe decided to move out of the Slaters' and share a flat on their own. At their flat warming party, Kelly got friendly with new Walford arrival Ronny Ferreira. This upset Zoe because unbeknown to Kelly, she had a crush on him and she proceeded to get drunk in The Queen Vic one night and began bad-mouthing Kelly to her mother Kat, maliciously bringing up her past as a prostitute for all to hear. Ronny's best friend, Tariq Larousi, overheard their conversation and he forced Zoe to inform Ronny about Kelly's past. Ronny was disgusted, and cruelly dumped Kelly, which left her devastated. Kelly was furious when she discovered that it was Zoe who had blabbed, and accused her of doing it to get her hands on Ronny. After much arguing, Zoe eventually promised not to make a play for Ronny, as their friendship was more important. However, with Ronny now showing a keen interest in Zoe, she was finding it difficult to shun his attention. A few weeks later at Martin Fowler's birthday party, Kelly decided to make a move on Martin to make Ronny jealous. Ronny wasn't interested and only had eyes for Zoe. Kelly ended the night in bed with Martin, feeling hurt and rejected and despite her past promise, Zoe ended up going behind Kelly's back to date Ronny, which caused major rows between the girls.

Later in the year, Kelly witnessed Ronny kissing another woman, but Zoe refused to believe her best friend, accused her of being jealous and threw her out of their flat. That night, a hurt Kelly decided to forget her woes and went clubbing in Angie's Den, only to collapse later after taking some dodgy ecstasy (which was provided by Tariq). Kelly's brush with death made Zoe realise how much she valued their friendship and she immediately dumped Ronny. Kelly was forced to remain quiet about Tariq providing her the drug, after he threatened to tell everyone about her sordid past unless she kept her mouth shut.

Zoe kelly

Kelly and Zoe, stranded on the Scottish Moors

A friendly kiss Edit

On New Years Eve 2003, Kelly and Zoe went to Scotland for an all-night rave along with the other youths in Walford. Whilst on the way to their destination, disaster struck when the mini bus they were driving crashed in the middle of the Scottish moors, leaving them stranded and injured. Zoe was hurt the worst, and whilst the others all went in search of help, Kelly stayed by the wreck with her injured friend to care for her. The weather was bitterly cold and the two huddled together to keep warm. A concerned Kelly relayed to Zoe how happy she was to have her as a friend and how meeting her had changed her life. As the night wore on, Zoe began to lose consciousness, and Kelly became frantic, fearing that Zoe was dying. Kelly became tearful and overemotional, as did Zoe, and in the heat of the moment, they kissed. The following day the stranded teenagers were rescued, but Zoe was reluctant to discuss the kiss with Kelly. Zoe spent a few days in hospital and upon her release, she became distant from Kelly, refusing to spend any time alone with her. Eventually, Kelly managed to get Zoe to talk and they both decided they weren't lesbians and that the kiss only happened because they believed they were going to die. Soon after, Zoe moved out of their flat as she could no longer afford the rent. Gus Smith came to live there in her place, but the girls remained close friends and working partners.

SpencerEdit

In May 2004, Vicki Fowler decided to play match-maker and attempted to set Kelly and Spencer up on several dates. Each attempt failed miserably so she decided to lock them both in the office at Angie's Den, taking both their phones so they had to spend the night in there together. They initially started to argue. Kelly told Spencer she only slept with him a year earlier out of pity and Spencer insulted Kelly about her sordid past. However, as the night wore on, the two began talking, and when Vicki finally came to let them out, she was overjoyed to find them kissing.

Kelly spencer

Spencer and Kelly finally get together

The couple remained happy for a while and it seemed that Spencer and Kelly were smitten with each other. During the summer, Kelly, Spencer and Kareena Ferreira decided they wanted to become holiday reps in Ibiza. Kelly found an article in a magazine promoting 'Red Hot Holiday' and the trio got ready for their interviews. Kelly and Kareena passed with flying colours but Spencer didn't so he was forced to stay behind while Kelly went away. On the day of her departure, Kelly told Spencer she loved him, which he reciprocated, and after a tearful farewell, Kelly promised she'd be back after the summer.

Spencer waited for Kelly to return, but by the end of the summer, Kareena had returned and there was no sign of Kelly. Eventually, Kareena told Spencer that she'd met another man and was not coming back. Kelly's last appearance was in June 2004. When Zoe left Walford in 2005, she allegedly went to Spain to join Kelly.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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