OUR CAST

FERN BRITTON

Fern is probably best known for her years co-presenting ITV's flagship daytime show This Morning with Philip Schofield. Fern started in current affairs and news as a reporter and presenter. She covered the Queen's 80th birthday celebrations and reported from Basra during the Iraq war. She successfully switched to light entertainment, with iconic shows like Ready Steady Cook, All Star Mr And Mrs and took part in Strictly Come Dancing. She recently presented the 7th series of her Sunday morning BBC show Ferm Britton Meets where past guests have included Tony Blair, Desmond Tutu and Dolly Parton. Recent shows have included 2 series of The Big Allotment Challenge for BBC2, For What It's Worth, an antiques-based quiz show on BBC1 and Culinary Genius for ITV. She will be hosting a new show for ITV - A Right Royal Quiz.

Her autobiography Fern: My Story went to number four in the Sunday Times best seller list and her seven novels have had similar success, selling over a million copies.

Fern is a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping Magazine and cycles hundreds of miles a year raising money for charity.

ANNA-JANE CASEY

Anna-Jane Casey hails from Lancashire and has recently appeared in the West End production of Stepping Out and as Mrs Wilkinson in the international tour of Billy Elliot.

She came to London at 16 to play Rumpleteaser in Cats. She appeared in the original London casts of Children of Eden, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Out of the Blue and Grease. She played Buffy, Dinah and Pearl in Starlight Express, Anita in West Side Story, Velma Kelly in Chicago, Mickey in My One And Only and Frankie Frayne in On Your Toes.

Recent theatre credits include: Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot (UK & International Tour); Mavis in Stepping Out (Vaudeville Theatre); Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun (Sheffield Crucible); Violet Butterfield in Flowers For Mrs Harris (Sheffield Crucible), Lottie in Mack & Mabel (Chichester & UK Tour), Jerry’s Girls (St James Theatre), Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot (Victoria Palace Theatre), Aladdin in Aladdin (Hackney Empire), Courtesan in Comedy of Errors (Open Air Theatre Regents Park), Ella Peterson in Bells are Ringing (Union Theatre) receiving WOS Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical and OFFIE nomination for Best Actress, Olive James in Radio Times (Watermill, Newbury), Jenny in Company (Sheffield Crucible) and Lady of the Lake in Spamalot (Playhouse Theatre).

Anna-Jane played the title role in Sweet Charity at the Sheffield Crucible (Best Actress nomination at the 2003 TMA Awards) and was invited back to the Crucible to play the title role in Pam Gems’ Piaf. She played Dot in Sunday in the Park with George (Menier Chocolate Factory), Maggie in Hobson’s Choice and Mabel in Mack and Mabel (both, Watermill, Newbury) receiving the 2005 TMA award for Best Performance in a Musical for Mack & Mabel.

Film and television include: Family Guy in the episode Downton Stewie as Stewie’s English mother, Amy in The Royal, Shirley Walker in Doctors, Sophie in Eastenders, Linda Kemp in The Bill, Beyond the Sea directed by Kevin Spacey and also guest lead roles in Heartbeat and Holby City.

Anna Jane recently joined the CBSO for their Friday Night Classic’s Music of James Bond Concert and with The John Wilson Orchestra she was principal soloist on the 2014 UK tour of Cole Porter in Hollywood, at the 2012 Proms in John Wilson’s Broadway Sound and at the 2010 Rodgers and Hammerstein Prom. She also joined the orchestra with Curtis Stigers, Seth MacFarlane and Michael Parkinson for BBC’s Hollywood Swinging Christmas 2010.

She also appears in her own cabaret show both national and internationally.

SARA CROWE

Sara’s theatre credits include: Most recently: How The Other Half Lives (UK Tour); Queers at the Old Vic, Noises Off (Mercury theatre Colchester) Fallen Angels on tour, Radio Times the Musical, The City Madam (The Swan, RSC) Bedroom Farce (Duke of Yorks) Calendar Girls (Noel Coward Theatre); The Real Inspector Hound & Black Comedy (Comedy Theatre); The Constant Wife (Lyric Theatre); A Busy Day (Lyric Theatre); Dames at Sea (Ambassadors Theatre); Hay Fever (Albery Theatre) for which she received an Olivier nomination for Best Comedy Performance; My Best Friend (Hampstead Theatre); Relative Values (Savoy Theatre); Plunder (Savoy Theatre); Henceforward (Vaudeville Theatre); Twelfth Night (Playhouse Theatre); Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Regents Park); Who’s the Daddy? and A Right Royal Farce (King’s Head); Private Lives (Aldwych Theatre) for which she received the Olivier award for Best Supporting Actress, the Variety Club Best Actress Award, and the Critics Circle Most Promising Newcomer Award.

On Tour: Crush the Musical, A Woman of No Importance (RSC); The Country Wife (English Touring Theatre); Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime and The Constant Wife (Bill Kenwright); Donkeys Years by Michael Frayn and Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular. Sara played Miss Babs in the tour of Acorn Antiques the Musical by Victoria Wood.

Television credits include: Born and Bred; Haggard; Big Meg Little Meg, Alas Smith and Jones; The Harry Enfield Show; Scarlett, the TV sequel to Gone With the Wind; The Green Green Grass, Eastenders, Skins and most recently Midsomer Murders.

Film credits include: Four Weddings & A Funeral; Carry on Columbus; Caught in the Act and Round Ireland with a Fridge.

She is also a writer and her novels Campari For Breakfast and Martini Henry are published by Transworld.

KAREN DUNBAR

Karen is best known to audiences for BBC1 Scotland’s sketch shows The Karen Dunbar Show and Chewin’ The Fat. The Karen Dunbar Show received two coveted Golden Rose nominations for Best Comedy Show and Karen herself two personal nominations for Best Comedy Performance. She also opened the 2014 Commonwealth Games to an audience of over one billion viewers.

Theatre credits include: Shakespeare Trilogy (Donmar Warehouse & St Ann’s Warehouse, New York), Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical (Edinburgh Playhouse), Henry IV (Donmar Warehouse & St Ann’s Warehouse, New York), Happy Days (Mayfesto – Tron Theatre), The Guid Sisters (NTS at Lyceum Edinburgh and Kings Theatre), Men Should Weep (National Theatre London), The Pirates of Penzance (Richmond Theatre & Theatre Royal), The Vagina Monologues (Edinburgh Playhouse and Theatre Royal), A Drunk Woman Looks at The Thistle (Òran Mór & The Assembly Rooms).

Film credits include: Mary, Queen of Scots (Focus Features/ Working Title), JACK (Short) (Quigley Film) & Rice Paper Stars (Tartan Shorts).

RUTH MADOC

Ruth is well known for the iconic roles of Gladys Pugh in 9 series of Hi-De-Hi for the BBC & Dafydd’s Mum in Little Britain (also BBC). Other recent TV appearances include Bev in Casualty (BBC One); Mayor Mary Meyer in Stella (Sky One); Florence in Mount Pleasant (Sky One); & Rhiannon in Benidorm (ITV/Tiger Aspect).

TV credits include Alice Sutton in Doctors (BBC); Georgie in Big Top (BBC); Myrtie in Mine all Mine (ITV); Various roles in the comedy sketch show Revolver (BBC Scotland); Jean Price in Jack of Hearts (BBC Wales); Dorothy Hope in Animal Ark; Sybill Stamfordis in The Pale Horse (Anglia Television); Mrs Jones in The Famous Five (Fortman Productions/ITV); Miss Terry in Cluedo (Granada TV); Lynn in An Actor’s Life for Me (BBC); Mrs Morgan in Woof! (CITV); Betty Smith in Hunter’s Walk (ATV) & Mrs Jones in Oliver’s Travels (BBC).

Film Work includes the short film Journey Man (Wild Films) & Mrs Ifans in Very Annie Mary (Film Four / Dragon Pictures).

Theatre Credits include: Grandma Rose in The Wedding Singer (UK Tour); Matron in Be My Baby (Autumn tour 2016); Ada in You’re Never Too Old (Edinburgh Fringe); Older Dorothy Squires in Say it with Flowers (Sherman, Cymru); Marie in Calendar Girls (Various UK Touring); Miss Hannigan in Annie (UK Tour); The Vagina Monologues (UK Tour); Dorothy Brook in 42nd Street (UK Tour); Mrs Bardell in Pickwick The Musical (Apollo Leisure) & Mama Rose in Gypsy (Newpalm Productions).

REBECCA STORM

Over the past 40 years Rebecca has established herself as one of the most popular Leading Ladies in Musical Theatre, playing demanding roles in – Evita, Les Miserables, Chess, Aspects Of Love, Piaf, Annie, Hello Dolly…

At 23 she auditioned for her first musical Blood Brothers and although a little young to play Mrs. Johnstone - Liverpudlian Catholic mother of seven children - author Willy Russell was so captivated by her voice he insisted Wardrobe & Make Up went to work to ‘age’ the young actress. Her portrayal of Mrs. Johnstone has become so popular that she still returns to the role after 34 years.

In 1992 Rebecca devised, co-directed and starred in Hollywood Ladies - a tribute to her many influences from the Silver Screen - among them Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews and Gracie Fields. Together with her company of fourteen singers & dancers she was awarded Best Musical Review ’92.

She was very proud to be invited to sing for the King of Norway at his Coronation in 1991, performed several times for the British Royal Family and more recently for Irelands’ President Michael D. Higggins.

Her recording career began in 1985 with a Top Twenty single Putting On The Show, which she performed on Top of the Pops. Rebecca has been presented with awards for her albums Ovation, Broadway By Storm and Ireland By Storm. Her CDs Celtic and Broadway and I Want To Know What Love Is were released by Sony Music and her latest album The Essential Rebecca Storm is a double CD consisting of a live recording of her sell out concert at Dublins’ Grand Canal (Bord Gáis Energy) Theatre and a studio album produced by her husband and Musical Director Kenny Shearer.

With numerous concerts, radio & TV appearances around the world, Rebecca enjoys a busy and varied career and after many years in London’s West End theatre world, Rebecca has now made Ireland her home and is more than thrilled with the honour of having her handprints set on the famous ‘Gaiety Theatre Walk Of Fame’.

Rebecca is absolutely delighted to return to her Yorkshire roots to play Chris in the fabulous new musical ‘Calendar Girls’, written by Gary Barlow & Tim Firth, touring extensively in the UK & Ireland.

DENISE WELCH

Denise was born in Whitley Bay near Newcastle & started her career there at Live Theatre in Tom Hadaways Yesterday's Children.

Other theatre credits include; The Wind in the Willows at The London Palladium,Smack Family Robinson, Steel Magnolia National Tour, The Rise and Fall Of Little Voice at the Royal Exchange, the UK tour of Steel MagnoliasSmack Family Robinson at the Rose Theatre, Kingston and The Ancient Secret of Youth and The 5 Tibetans at the Bolton Octagon, Grease at the Haymarket in Leicester, Ruby in Yakety Yak at the Astoria Theatre.

Denise’s Television credits include; Home Team (Juggle Productions), Series regular role on Boy Meets Girl (Tiger Aspect), Holby City (BBC), Series regular roles on ITV's Coronation Street, BBC's Waterloo Road, BBC Two comedy Boy Meets Girl, Down to Earth, Soldier Soldier (ITV) and Spender (BBC), along with appearances in Benidorm (ITV), EastEnders (BBC), Inspector George Gently (BBC), Down To Earth (BBC), Born and Bred (BBC) and The Vice (BBC) Where the Heart Is (Yorkshire Television), The Bill (Talkback Thames) Denise was a regular panellist and anchor on hit ITV chat show Loose Women for ten years.

Film credits include; It’s A Lot, The Jealous God, Finding Fatimah and Burning Men.

Denise recently produced her own short film Black Eyed Susan which is currently on the festival circuit.  She has written 2 personal memoirs and 2 novels. Her second, A Mothers Bond, has just been published.

Denise lives in Cheshire with her husband, the artist Lincoln Townley and her son Louis.

Her stepson Lewis lives in Spain and her son Matty is the lead singer of the Brit Award winning band The 1975.

MORE CASTING TO BE ANNOUNCED

CREATIVE TEAM

Some years ago the musician and choirmaster Bob Howes started a songwriting competition for the BBC. A young lad from a North Western town entered. His name was Tim Firth and he became a friend of Bob’s, so much so that he ended up a judge on the same competition when, five or so years later, another young lad from the North West entered. Gary Barlow and Tim found they came from the same town. They said they’d keep in touch and maybe try a little collaboration one day.

In the meantime Tim went on to read English at Cambridge and become a playwright and composer . His most recent work for theatre was the musical This Is My Family at Sheffield Cruciblewhich won the UK Theatre Award for Best Musical.  His other musicals include Our House (Olivier Award Best Musical) and the Flint Street Nativity. His plays include Neville’s Island, The Safari Party, and Sign of the Times.  His play Calendar Girls (Whatsonstage Best Comedy) became the most performed amateur play in history and has funded research projects into blood cancers. Tim’s films include Blackball, The Wedding Video, Calendar Girls (British Comedy Award) and Kinky Boots. For television he wrote Timeless, Money For Nothing (Writer's Guild Award); The Rottentrolls (BAFTA Award); Cruise of the Gods; The Flint Street Nativity and Preston Front (Writer's Guild award; British Comedy Award, RTS Award)

One of the first things Tim did after leaving university was go to see Gary performing at Manchester Apollo. This is because in the meantime Gary had formed a band called Take That together with Mark Owen, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Robbie Williams. They went on to become one of the biggest British bands of all time. Now, after 25 years in the business, with over 52 million records sold including nine UK No.1 albums, fifteen UK No.1 singles, seven million concert tickets – and as well as being the proud recipient of six Ivor Novello Awards - Gary Barlow is regarded as one of Britain’s most successful singer songwriters. 

In 2016 Gary and Tim performed a song from their first collaboration The Girls on the Royal Variety Show backed by a massed choir whose choirmaster was Bob Howes.