Take That star Gary Barlow has revealed an abundance of affection for Dorset’s most popular resort. The singer songwriter, who posted photos on Twitter of his stay at the Alexandra Hotel in Lyme Regis last year, professed his love for the town at a recent press event and revealed that he is a regular visitor to the area.
“I love Lyme Regis. I’ll tell you why I go there. I go and cook at Hugh Fernley Whittingstall’s place. I’ve got a couple of friends there who are the chefs and I often take myself down, truly I do. I just go down there for a bit of peace and quiet. I cook for two days and it’s gorgeous, it’s absolutely gorgeous.”
Barlow expressed his adoration of the seaside town at an open rehearsal to promote The Girls, a new musical he has co-written with his childhood friend Tim Firth. The show is based on the beloved story of the Calendar Girls, the group of Yorkshire women who hit the headlines when they posed for a nude WI charity calendar. The real life fable has become something of British legend and was made into a blockbuster movie in 2003 starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. It was later adapted as a stage play, which many amateur originations were invited to perform including in our local area, Axminster Drama Club, who won a National Operatic and Drama Association award for their efforts.
Talking about the new musical version, which will open in the West End in February, Gary Barlow said: “First and foremost, this is an unbelievable story and the best thing of all is that it’s a true story. The real people are here to tell the story; the Calendar Girls are with us every step of the way with this musical, so as a writer to have that put in front of you and see the opportunity for music has been incredible.”
The composer is very much the man of the moment as far as musical theatre is concerned; with another show set to hit the stage later this year, a production which will feature the music of Take That and be performed by a brand new boyband, cast from Barlow’s BBC1 Saturday night television talent show, entitled Let It Shine. Despite some fairly harsh criticism about the cheesy format, the television series, which boasts an enviable group of presenters and judges, including Graham Norton, Mel Giedroyc and Barlow’s band mates, Howard Donald and Mark Owen, the show is, so far narrowly winning the ratings war over ITV’s The Voice UK.
Barlow is delighted with the results and said: “I’m very pleased. Obviously the shows that you’re watching at the moment; we shot most of them in September last year so I’ve seen them all and I’m very, very happy. For me the most important thing of all is this amazing talent, which I know we have. You’re still yet to see a lot of it, but it’s going to be very exciting and yeah, roll on this weekend!”
If it all gets too much however, the heartthrob can always venture to one of his favourite parts of the world for a tranquil break from the continuous glare of the spotlight. After the broadcaster Fearne Cotton spent New Year in the town, it seems Lyme Regis is becoming the place to go for high profile celebrities to get away from it all and Barlow says he has enjoyed the freedom he can feel when he visits West Dorset, “I went to the pubs, I went to the chippies; you [can] wander along the beach. It’s an amazing part of the UK.”