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Scenes of graveyards, bridges and wet trees conventionally used in Women's Institute calendars cop some disparaging remarks in Calendar Girls, the comedy Unity Theatre has resumed rehearsals for.

Tim Firth's popular play is based on a real-life situation in which the women behind the story were inspired to create a calendar that featured nude pictures of them busy with regular WI activities such as baking, preserving and knitting.

Funds raised from sales of the calendar will go towards a new settee for the hospital waiting area. In remembrance of one of the women's husbands who visited the hospital for chemotherapy treatments, the couch will be called the John Clarke Memorial Settee.

Since the success of the real-life calendar in 2000, the Yorkshire “calendar girls” have raised more than £3 million for cancer research.

Prior to lockdown, the Unity show's assistant director and stage manager Jean McIntosh remembered that she had one of the original calendars in her shed that she had bought years ago in Australia.

But with so many boxes stored in the shed, it could have been anywhere.

Rehearsals for Unity's Julie McPhail-directed production were under way when McIntosh's sister helped her clean up the shed — and sure enough the Calendar Girls calendar resurfaced.

“It is intriguing,” McIntosh said.

“The pictures are made up of sepia colours with a bright yellow sunflower in each month. That's the only splash of colour.

“The calendar was for a good cause and it was surprisingly revealing — not just a bunch of flowers with a pair of shoulders about it. The women are varied in age and don't look the slightest bit airbrushed. It's tasteful and natural looking but it was pretty daring.”

Unity's cast and crew were thrilled to see the original calendar, says McIntosh, who plans to display it in the theatre foyer during the Calendar Girls performance season.

Calendar Girls, Unity Theatre, 209 Ormond Road, August 13 – August 22, 7.30pm with a 3pm matinee on August 16. Tickets available from eventfinda.

MISS JUNE: Shortly after Unity Theatre began rehearsals for the comedy Calendar Girls, assistant director and stage manager Jean McIntosh's copy of the original, real-life calendar surfaced and provided an opportunity to get into the spirit of the play. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell