Celebrity surprise for Sheringham’s Calendar Girls

The cast of Calendar Girls at Sheringham Little Theatre get a visit from BBC's The One Show and original WI Calendar Girl Angela Baker, who is pictured (centre) with cast members and One Show presenter Justin Rowlatt. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY The cast of Calendar Girls at Sheringham Little Theatre get a visit from BBC's The One Show and original WI Calendar Girl Angela Baker, who is pictured (centre) with cast members and One Show presenter Justin Rowlatt. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Wednesday, October 17, 2012
10:09 AM

The cancer widow whose heart-tug story, set among her WI friends, spawned the Calendar Girls phenomenon was the VIP guest at its am dram premiere in Sheringham last night.

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Angela Baker’s poignant loss of husband John was the spark for the nude calendar that saw a £5,000 charity target turn into a £3.5m success story for Leukmaemia Research - fuelled by a bitter-sweet movie and stage play.

She met the cast and joined the audience as the curtain went up on the production by Cromer and Sheringham Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society at Sheringham Little Theatre.

Afterwards she praised the show for its portrayal of the friendships, tensions, laughter and tears as the bluff rebellious Yorkshirewomen took on the WI traditionalists for their brave venture.

But she confessed: “It is still tough to watch, and I always cry.”

She recalled having fun doing the original calendar back in 1999 a year after John’s death, adding “it felt as if we were doing something positive.

“John said we would never do it. But we did not know what it would lead to - otherwise I would have been terrified.”

Mrs Baker said actress Amanda Howell who played her character on stage even had some of her habits, such as standing with her arms crossed.

The Sheringham show is one of a flurry of am dram productions as the amateur rights for the play were released for the very first time on September 1, for a window of just 18 months, which has seen more than 1,000 groups across the globe applying to stage it.

Local society spokesman Ruth Elliott, who plays snobbish WI chairman Marie, said: “It’s phenomenal. So many people want to see the show.”

A bit like the original calendar, the north Norfolk production has also attracted unexpected national, having been filmed for BBC’s prime time One Show to be aired next Wednesday.

And, also like the original WI members, they are doing it for a cancer cause close to their hearts, having lost member Shirley Lodge to cancer last year.

The production which will raise cash for Leukaemia Research runs until Saturday but is sold out.

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