Calendar Girls: the story

01 Sep 2016

The Calendar Girls story

The story of the Calendar Girls began in 1998 when John Baker, husband of Angela Baker, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. John sadly passed away after just a few months of treatment, but in the months following their loss, Angela and her friends set about creating the now infamous calendar as something for Angela to focus on during this difficult time.

The Calendar Girls, holding one of the photographs from their original charity calendar in ad of Bloodwise

The group aimed to raise enough for a new sofa for the hospital where John was treated and were amazed when the calendar attracted international press attention. So far, they've raised over £3 million for Bloodwise, creating over seven calendars, establishing their own merchandise line, and giving numerous talks about their experiences.Their inspirational story has been transformed for both stage and screen - and has now been made into a musical!

'The Girls' musical

We're delighted to say that following on from the calendar, play and film, a brand new musical 'The Girls' - written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth - will be coming to the Phoenix Theatre in London's West End in January 2016, after premiering in Leeds and Manchester at the end of 2015.

Tickets go on sale on 16 September: check back here for details of where you can buy them from.

The musical is based on the true story of the Calendar Girls - the ordinary Yorkshire women of the WI who did something extraordinary. We're delighted - and hugely grateful - that Bloodwise will benefit from the show. 

Angela Baker said: “The musical is absolutely fantastic. John would have been so proud. As a family it helps us believe that he didn’t die in vain, that he’s been a part of it and with us every step of the way. We're glad lots of people went and see 'The Girls' and that it raised lots more money for Bloodwise. That’s what John would have wanted, to help other people who get this terrible disease.”

Cathy Gilman, Bloodwise Chief Executive said: “The girls have had the most incredible journey since that very first calendar back in 1999, and I'm thrilled for them and their loved ones that their astonishing story will continue to be shared through this musical, and that the memory of John will continue to live on and inspire for many years to come. The Leeds and Manchester shows raised a huge amount of money, which is great news for blood cancer patients.”

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth grew up in the same village in the north of England and have been friends for 25 years. They said: “We were over the moon to have received the ecstatic blessing of the original Calendar Girls: it's something that is so so special to us.”

The Calendar Girls film

"It is truly a wonderful film....The film-makers captured the heart and soul of the calendar and even after all this time it still touches all who see it." Angela Baker - Miss February

The Calendar Girls mixed with the stars as the film of their story showed at cinemas all over the world in 2003.

The acclaimed cast of British actors included Dame Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, John Alderton, Annette Crosbie, Philip Glenister, Celia Imrie, Geraldine James and Penelope Wilton.

Calendar Girls won critical acclaim even before it was released - a hit with audiences and critics alike at the Cannes Film Festival in 2003 and attracting a record crowd of 9,500 at the Locarno Film Festival. The film took over £20million at the UK box office and more than $30million in the USA.

The film is available as a DVD in stores worldwide and also now a stage show.

For more information, visit the film's official website.

The Calendar Girls, eating cakes at a bake sale to support charity Bloodwise


Text CGRL98 £3 to 70070 to make a donation of £3 in support of the Calendar Girls, and help us beat blood cancer.