The hit TV show Fat Friends from award-winning national treasure Kay Mellor is bursting on to stage this year in a brand new musical. Packed full of warmth, life and weight loss this brand new stage show written and directed by Kay Mellor reunites our favourite foodie friends in an eagerly anticipated musical which is packed full of hopes, humour and heart. Excelle talks exclusively to Kay Mellor to find out more.
For those for haven’t seen it before, what is Fat Friends about?
Fat friends is essentially about a group of people who meet up every week at a slimming group, however the arch to the story is about Kelly, who goes to buy a wedding dress and can’t get into it. So it’s set over six weeks and it questions will she get into the dress or won’t she?
Can people who haven’t seen the TV series, still relate to the musical?
Definitely, we work shopped it in London and the people who came to the workshop had never seen the drama series. They loved the play that much, that they went off and bought the box set.
Why have you decided to rewrite Fat Friends as a musical instead of a follow on series?
I was asked to do a follow up series but I felt that I had exhausted it. I did four series, that’s a lot of television, and I’d also done a Christmas special. I really was tired and felt that a) I wanted a rest and b)I wanted to do something different. But instead of wiping the characters from my brain like I usually do, it still all hung about, and I remember thinking, well I could do this in America or I might do this as a film or theatre piece. So it was always in my draw to do something else with Fat Friends, but I never truly thought a musical, because I didn’t think I could write musical lyrics.
I wrote the book, which is like a script, and then the lyrics started to come easily, and I realised that knowing the characters is halfway through to writing the lyrics. It’s just like writing dialogue, but you write with a tune in your head. And then my producer Josh Andrews introduced me to Nick Lloyd Webber, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s son and I remember thinking oh I’m not sure if he’ll get it , because he was a different social background to me but he got it straight away. He got the music, he got the characters, he got everything and I found his music emotional and I just thought, he understands what I’m writing.
Are you playing quite a hands on role then?
Oh yeah I’m the director. It’s very exciting, I’ve never worked with a composer, I’ve never worked with a choreographer, I’ve never worked with a musical supervisor, all these areas are brand new to me, and I’m just loving it.
Cast members of the Fat Friends TV Series
What can people look forward to while watching Fat Friends the musical?
I think the music is great, I love listening to the songs. I think it’s funny, I think in parts it’s sad. I hope it’s going to be visually stunning and it’s Headingly’s own musical. The TV series is based in Headingly, and I’ve done the same again. So Headingly’s musical its premiering at the Grand theatre. It looks at how we’re all obsessed with body image, and everybody wants to lose weight, tone up. Since I wrote the TV series things haven’t got better, they’ve got worse. I’ve brought it very much up to date, because Kelly does something, which goes viral, so it looks at the Internet.
Apart from Fat Friends what else have you been working on?
I’m currently working on two TV series. I’m working on something for the BBC called Love, Lies and Records and that’s set in Leeds town hall, that’s coming out this autumn. Then this Winter I’ve got Girlfriends, which is on ITV and that looks at three women of a certain age and there’s a big dark story in it, but I can’t give too much away about that.
For all the aspiring writers out there, what advice would you give them to be successful?
To write, you’ll only get better at writing through writing. And if you want to write television, if there’s something you really like record it, and watch it again and again and analyse it, see what you like about it and what you don’t like about it. Even count how many scenes are in it.
If it’s theatre you want to write, go to the theatre, study the text, look at how they’ve done it, how they started it, where the middle is and how they finished it. Listen to those people who love you, and listen to what they say, then go out and show it to somebody and listen to what they’ve got to say because they may have been in the business longer and know a bit more and be more objective then you are but don’t let them crucify you.