BBC Waterloo Road Wiki
Sambuca Kelly
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Portrayed by Holly Kenny
First Appearance Series 4 Episode 1
Last Appearance Series 7 Episode 6
Cause/Reason Died of brain cancer
Born 1995
Died 2011
Mother Rose Kelly
Father Reynold
Guardian Matt Wilding (Foster Dad)
Grandmothers Unnamed
Half-Brothers Marley Kelly
Earl Kelly
Denzil Kelly (Deceased)
Prince Kelly
Nephews Unnamed
Romances Kyle Peters
Bolton Smilie
Finn Sharkey

Sambuca "Sam" Kelly (1995-2011) commenced her time at Waterloo Road at the age of fourteen. She is the third of five children born to troubled Rose Kelly. Her half-brothers Marley Kelly, Earl Kelly and Denzil Kelly were also pupils at Waterloo Road. She also has a baby brother, Prince Kelly, who is not featured very much during the series. She grew up around the country after her troubled mother uprooted the family, which she started in east London, on several occasions. The family's wayward nature was attributed to the abusive and manipulative actions of Sambuca's father, Reynold. Viewers soon learn that although Sam might come across as abrasive, she is a highly compassionate individual.

Named after her mum’s favourite drink, Sambuca is essentially a good kid who often finds herself drawn into trouble by the tough Waterloo Road environment. Over the course of the time that Sam spends at Waterloo Road, she often finds herself in trouble as a consequence of her endeavours to provide assistance to her friends. Sam proves herself to be an exceptionally loyal individual with a gigantic heart, as is proven when she provides assistance to one of her classmates, Harry. Sam is used to fighting her own corner and as a result springs to the defensive a little too readily.

She was friends with Lauren Andrews, Josh Stevenson, Harry Fisher, Michaela White and Kyle Stack, and had her ons and offs with Amy. She was the girlfriend of Finn Sharkey at the moment of her death, which left him totally devastated. She was also under the care of Tom Clarkson, who was heart broken after her and her brothers death.

Her half brother, Denzil Kelly, died some months after her.

Series 4

On Sambuca's first day at Waterloo Road, she is portrayed as hostile, disruptive and angry at the world. Although she managed to disrupt Matt Wilding's music class by complaining about the music, she showed remorse when she was forced to face the wall for the remainder of the lesson as punishment. Matt later sympathised with her.

In the aftermath of Denzil's arrest, Sambuca tried to influence and inspire Rose to start going back into education by attending Waterloo Road's adult education classes. Although Rose attended the classes, she wasn't too happy about it and got into a physical altercation with fellow classmate and later best friend, Candice. When Sambuca discovered what had occurred, she became cross with her mother and made it clear that she was unhappy with how her mother had acted over the years.

Sambuca's life become complicated once again when she was temporarily fostered by Matt when her violent father Reynold returned. Although Sambuca categorically denied that her father was ever violent towards her, it was felt that her safety necessitated her being fostered. She wasn't too keen to stay with Matt and soon made him the target of a practical joke. For example, she steals a packet of 'Wind-Eze' from his medication cupboard and makes it known to the entire school.

However, Sambuca and Matt, soon become close and Sam views him a father-figure in her chaotic life. Reynold soon becomes uncontrollably jealous of Matt's secure relationship with Sambuca. Rose then decided to shop him to the police because he had stolen Matt's LCD television.

When Sambuca is told that she can return to living with her mother, she doesn't seem that happy. Matt encouraged her to return to where Sambuca is able to be happy. Matt also made it known to Rose that he will be there if she ever needs assistance. However, their celebration was short-lived when Earl fatally shoots his girlfriend, Maxine Barlow in a jealous rage.

In Series 4 Episode 13, Sambuca became close to Kyle Peters, a Traveller who (along with his family) set up base on the school grounds. The two became good friends, even sparking a relationship from Kyle's short time at Waterloo Road. She stuck up for him and his family when he was the victim of bullying from teacher Grantly Budgen and pupils Bolton and Paul.

During a football match organized by Eddie Lawson, Kyle's feelings for Sam became evident when they shared a kiss. At the end of the school day as Kyle and his family made plans to become regulars at the school, the council arrived to violently move them on. Knowing that this would be their final meeting, Kyle gave Sambuca his ring as a token of his friendship. Saddened, Sambuca stood and watched as the Travellers and Kyle left Waterloo Road for good.

Series 5

In Series 5, Sambuca and Lauren Andrews' fiery spirit is inflamed by the arrival of Amy Porter and Siobhan Mailey, the two of them hurling insults at one another, and was a part of the girl gang war between John Foster's and Waterloo Road students. Each of them performed a duet dance routine at a talent show, dancing to "Lady Marmalade". When they got on stage, Amy and Siobhan threw buckets of slime at the girls, but they still did their act.

Max Tyler caught Sambuca gossiping about him and called her vermin. Her mother Rose Kelly was furious.

In Episode 15, Sambuca's romantic interest in Bolton Smilie became evident. At this point in the series, the students of Waterloo Road gained work experience placements within various companies around Rochdale. Sambuca did not get the opportunity to work a full day at a local sports shop because she endeavoured to impress Bolton.

Sambuca hid a pair of shorts in Bolton's bag and the security guard was under the impression that Bolton had attempted to steal the shorts. A confused Bolton obeyed Sambuca when she ordered him to run away from the shop. After they both made a break for it, she took Bolton to her favourite place alongside a river. They engaged in activities, such as throwing rocks at an old wrecked boat and sharing Bolton's lunch. Moments later, Sambuca and Bolton shared a romantic kiss.

After Bolton started to ignore her, enraged Sam started hurling insults to him when they were playing a basketball game in Episode 16. She then threw a glass full of smoothie over him. When Bolton was still ignoring her, Sambuca asked Paul Langley to the prom to get him jealous; this worked and Bolton took her instead. They were crowned Prom King and Queen. Bolton and Sanbuca sleep together.

Series 6

When Sambuca returned to school after the summer holidays, she was received coldly by Lauren because she felt that Sambuca spent too much time with new boyfriend BoltonLauren and her new sidekick, Amy, decided to ignore her. Sam felt hurt by their actions. Sam attempted to help new student Ruth Kirby, who had been home schooled by her father and had problems fitting into Waterloo Road. Sam endeavoured to be nice to Ruth, only to be treated rudely. Ruth behaved poorly towards Sam, which resulted in Sam punching her in the nose. Much to her displeasure, Sam is excluded for two weeks by new head Karen Fisher.

When Tom Clarkson supported Sam, she returned to Waterloo Road. During the series, it is obvious that Sam is motivated by a strong desire to help other people. For example, she wanted to help Harry, who was troubled by his suspicions that his father was having an affair. Sam agreed to help Harry, even though it could cause trouble for her.

Later in the series, Lauren’s resentment is taken a step too far when she allowed Sambuca to take the blame for bringing in drugs that had actually belonged to Amy. What Sam was actually trying to do was buy the drugs off Amy and hand them over to her Spanish teacher Francesca Montoya.

However, Amy didn't trust Sam and gave her oregano, pretending it was the drugs and she and Lauren followed Sambuca to Miss Montoya's classroom where they see her handing the "drugs" over. Angered by this, Amy and Lauren conclude that Sambuca had told on them to Miss Montoya, even though she hadn't. Amy persuaded Lauren to plant the actual drugs on Sam which resulted in her nearly getting excluded.

Disgusted with both of them, Sambuca decided to leave Waterloo Road for good, despite Deputy Head Christopher Mead trying to reason with her. However, when she confronted by Miss Montoya, Lauren told the truth afterwards and admitted the drugs were Amy's.

Karen Fisher was disgusted that Lauren and Amy had attempted to blame Sambuca and punished them both by making them write an apology letter to Sam and her mother, Rose Kelly. Lauren ran after Sam as she was leaving and told her she was sorry and she had told the truth in the end.

Lauren also tries to make friends with Sambuca again, but Sambuca tells her she can't see how they can be friends anymore because she is leaving Waterloo Road. Lauren is saddened by this, knowing it was mainly her fault that she has lost her best friend.

Sam returned in Episode 15 in which she appears to have forgiven Lauren, but not Amy. She returned simply to make sure Denzil doesn't get into trouble but her and Finn Sharkey soon start arguing. Harry Fisher shows Sam emails he has been sending to staff on his mother's phone but when Karen works it out, Sambuca plants the phone in Amy's bag at an attempt at payback.

Harry then goes to his mother saying he sent the texts and covers for Sam by saying he planted the phone. Afterwards, Sambuca admits to Amy she planted it, but it didn't make her feel better and they make up. Finn then reveals he is Denzil's new mentor much to Sam's dismay.

Sambuca continues to be a harsh critic of Finn and remains suspicious of his motives. In spite of the fact that it seems as if Finn's intentions are sincere towards Denzil, she behaves harshly towards Finn. For example, Finn endeavours to prevent Denzil from viewing pornography on Wayne's telephone. Sambuca thinks that Finn is encouraging Denzil to view the images on Wayne's phone. When she realises that Finn was only trying to help, Sambuca apologises to Finn, who accepts her apology. The two of share a kiss.

In Episode 20, when Finn gets Kyle Stack kicked off the cast for the pantomime, and he replaces him himself, Sambuca is disgusted with him, as she saw that the pantomime had actually meant a lot to Kyle even though he pretended that he couldn't care less about it.

Finn tries to apologize, but Sambuca ignores him. When Denzil does a dangerous stunt walking across the top of a railway, Finn goes up to save him. Denzil gets away, but when Finn realizes that he can't get over, he falls and lands on his back. He is rushed to the hospital, where Kyle says he is sorry and they unite, as do him and Sambuca.

Series 7

In the first episode of Series 7, Sambuca and many other students at Waterloo Road, believe that Kyle Stack is the father of his girlfriend's baby.

When Sambuca asks him what he is going to do about it, she reminds him that both her dad and Kyle's dad were not proper father-figures as both were not a consistent present in the lives of either child; this encourages him to go and find his girlfriend, Ali Redback. Sambuca is very approving of this decision. When Lauren, Amy & Finn make fun of Kyle being a dad behind his back, she defends, saying that for once, he'd gone to do the right thing.

Sambuca is given a detention by Eleanor Chaudry for having difficulties in class and telling her to shut up. Tom catches wind of it, and they both notice Sam’s awful handwriting. Later in the day, Tom Clarkson lectures Sambuca. She desperately tries to persuade Tom that she wasn’t messing around; she could not see properly, could not concentrate, was suffering from agonising migraines and felt dizzy and nauseous. When they arrive home, Sambuca collapses on the grass outside her home. A shocked Tom calls for Rose as Sambuca suffers from a violent seizure on the ground. The cause of Sambuca's headaches are later diagnosed as brain cancer.

In spite of her diagnosis, Sambuca attends school, telling everyone that her severe headaches are attributed to migraines. Her fragile emotional state allows her to be the only Waterloo Road student who makes an effort to speak kindly to Martin Dunbar, a recent arrival at the school, who reveals the fact that he has transgender issues and that he hates himself. Sambuca does Martin's makeup so that he will look more like a girl, and then the reveals she has a brain tumour, the first time she has openly spoken about it. As well as this, Finn and Sam become close and Finn revealed to Sam that he wanted to start a family, but Sam wanted to wait until she was at least 26 and married first.

In Episode 3, it was revealed that Sambuca's cancer was incurable. Tom frantically searched the Internet for other possible treatments, but Rose insists that there is nothing that they can do and they have to find a way to break the news to Sambuca. However, it was too late as Sambuca had already visited her doctor to ask about the types of medication she'd received and what they do and was stunned by the news that she is dying. She was able to reveal to Finn that she was dying by using her film project.

In Episode 4, Sambuca was surprised by a special meal from Rose, Tom, Finn, Amy, Lauren and the rest of the school.

Finn later breaks up with Sambuca after finding it very difficult to cope with the pressure that has been put on him after finding out of her terminal illness. However, Finn realises the errors of his ways and turns up at Sambuca's house to apologize. They make up and he tells her he'll be with her until the end.

Finn proves this commitment by accompanying Sambuca (along with Lauren) when she travels to Blackpool to try to say goodbye to her real dad before she passes away. At the address she finds in her drawer, Sambuca discovers that her father is in prison for murder. Her grandmother later gives Tom Clarkson a photograph of Reynold and tells him to show it to Sambuca.

During the remainder of the day, Sambuca, Lauren and Finn make the most of their excursion to the seaside resort by having lunch, going up the tower, enjoying the rides at Pleasure Beach and hanging out around the beach. Tom eventually finds them and Sambuca realises this is where she wants to spend her last hours.

Back at her mum's house, Sambuca tells Tom that he is more of a father to her than her real father could ever be. Later that evening, Sambuca dies in Rose & Tom's arms with Finn holding the ring that she gave him, thinking about her at her time of death.

Series 10

In Series 10 Episode 19, she was mentioned at the press conference with Sonya Donnegan and Rob Hutchinson. She was described by the interviewers as brave and inspiring. She was also mentioned in the final scene of Waterloo Road with Max Tyler’s iconic line “You’re vermin.”


  • Sambuca was named after her mother’s favourite alcohol.
  • Sambuca used to be enemies with Amy Porter, however they became good friends. They drifted apart when Amy framed Sambuca with drugs. Sambuca took revenge on Amy which sent them hating each other, but they became mutual again before Sam’s death.
  • Sambuca has dated Kyle Peters, Bolton Smilie and most notably Finn Sharkey.
  • Lauren and Amy predicted the relationship of her and Finn with the book they were reading in Tom Clarkson’s class.


"The state of him, he's absolutely minging!" (First audible line)

Sam: Don’t you wanna know though Lauren, where you go?
Lauren: I want you here, now! You’re my best friend and you always will be, no matter where we are!

Sambuca: How do you know you're not a boy?
Martin: I always knew, I think. It just took me sixteen years of hell to finally admit it. I can't carry on like this. And I can't hide any more. It's not like anyone'd miss me.
Sambuca: What, so you're gonna top yourself?
Martin: Why not?
Sambuca: 'Cause that's a cop-out! Because some people actually want to live.
Martin: Yeah? Well, let them.
Sambuca: They don't have a choice, Martin!
Martin: You think I had any choice in this when I was born?!
Sambuca: You could have the change, you know? Hormones and all that.
Martin: Yeah...(Sarcastic) Hi Mum. Gonna lend us fifteen grand to surgically remove me penis? Oh and from now on you'll have to call me Martina!
Sambuca: You don't know how lucky you are, Martin! You have a future!
Martin: I don't want a future. Not like this.
Sambuca: You're a coward! You know, you could-you could speak to your mum, you could make her listen! I wish that's all I had to worry about!
Martin: What is your problem? What have you got to worry about? Aww, what is it, boyfriend trouble? Your mum doesn't understand you?
Sambuca: I've got cancer! I've got a brain tumour...
Martin: Shouldn't you be in hospital?
Sambuca: Yeah, that's where I'll be if I go back.
Martin: It's where you'll end up if you don't.

"Be here when I wake up, please." (Last words before succumbing to her brain cancer and dying)