Calendar Girls on way to Bristol

PUBLISHED: 13:20 19 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:20 19 June 2019

The Calender Girls tour cast.

The Calender Girls tour cast.


Writers talk about collaboration and what gives their play such universal appeal.

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth's award-winning musical comedy Calendar Girls is touring the UK after receiving fantastic 5 star reviews in the West End.

The musical tells the true story of Yorkshire's own Calendar Girls - a group of ordinary ladies who achieved something extraordinary. From staging a nude calendar to raise funds for their local hospital, the ladies of a Yorkshire branch of the Women's Institute became international superstars.

Twenty years ago Tim Firth told their story in his hit screenplay. Still people couldn't get enough of this innately British tale, so Firth penned the equally acclaimed stage play. More recently, collaborating with old school friend Gary Barlow, the musical incarnation launched, with many calling it the best adaptation yet.

Did Tim ever dream that the story would have such staying power when he sat down to write the film two decades ago?

"The story's core constituent is the combatting of grief through comedy. That is why it has had the longevity that it has. The story applies to many more counties than Yorkshire and many more people than just the WI. It's universal and that is the whole point of it; the pain of loss being defeated with wit."

Growing up in the same Cheshire village, Gary and Tim have been buddies since childhood. While Gary has written and co-written 14 number one singles, selling more than 50 million records worldwide and notching up no less than six Ivor Novello Awards, Tim has won the Olivier Award and UK Theatre Award for Best New Musical and also the British Comedy Awards Best Comedy Film for Calendar Girls.

Having already seen his mate's film and stage play versions of Calendar Girls, by the time Gary came on board to compose the score for the musical he had already subconsciously started the soundtrack in his head.

He said: "I heard it straight away. When we started working Tim would give me a couple of pages of lyrics and then I'd come back with mini albums of songs. He would then take a verse from one song and put it with the chorus of another. I'd get them back as structures and then maybe write new pieces."

The audience reaction to the curtain call never changes, it always includes thunderous applause and is rarely anything but a standing affair.

Tim adds: "That phenomenal response has always been consistent. I am really looking forward to taking Calendar Girls to new audiences. I think it's going to be amazing."

Interview by Vicky Edwards.

Calendar Girls The Musical arrives at the Bristol Hippodrome on July 9th until July 20th with performances starting at 7.30pm and additional matinee performances at 2.30pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Tickets from £13 are available from

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