A slimming club where the members confessed their inner most secrets while desperately try to shed a few more pounds proved a TV ratings winner.
And now Fat Friends, created by Yorkshire screenwriter Kay Mellor, is about to get a new lease of life as a musical.
Starring Jode Prenger, Leeds Grand Theatre will play host to the world premiere of the show, written by Nicholas Lloyd Webber, son of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, in November before it heads out on a national tour.
“About once or twice a week I get asked if Fat Friends is going to come back on the television,” said Mellor. “It ran for four series with a Christmas special and although I felt it had run its course, I always secretly thought there could be a musical using those characters.”
The Leeds born writer cut her teeth on Coronation Street and the hospital set drama Children’s Ward before making her name with Band of Gold in 1995. She went on to create Playing The Field, Strictly Confidential, The Syndicate and In The Club. Fat Friends, however, is one of the most fondly remembered television series of her long career.
“It’s a universal story, I think now more than ever,” said Mellor. “Everyone is on a diet, or knows someone who is. Every time I get a few days off, I hop on a train and head down to London to Nick’s studio.
“It’s the first time I’ve written a musical and it’s absolutely wonderful at this point in my career to have found something that is exciting and new and that I love. I now know what a middle eight is and when we started I thought an allegro was a car.”
When the show comes to Leeds Grand Theatre, it will be the venue’s second world premiere in recent years, the Gary Barlow-Tim Firth musical The Girls having opened at the Leeds theatre in 2015.
Mellor said: “It’s set in Headingley, I live in Leeds, I want Leeds people to be the first to see it. I’m really pleased that it’s going to tour nationally, but wherever it goes, Fat Friends The Musical will have had its world premiere in Leeds.”
Tickets for Fat Friends the Musical, which runs from Nov 7 to Dec 2, go on sale to priority members today and on general sale on Jan 25. 0844 8482 700.