2013 Phoebe Rees Awards
Best Leading Actress: Karen Trevis as Chris
Best Supporting Actor: John McGrouther as John
Best Male Cameo: Nick Barlow as Lawrence
Tim Firth was born in Wirral, Merseyside and spent most of his time at his Warrington comprehensive school writing songs. It was only a couple of months before going to Cambridge to read English that he attended an Arvon Foundation course in West Yorkshire. This was run by Willy Russell and whilst on it, Firth had to write dialogue. He wrote about the only thing he knew - two sixteen-year-olds trying to write a song. Another course participant optioned it for his production company and Firth decided to become a writer. While at Cambridge he joined the Footlights where his contemporaries included David Baddiel and Nick Hancock.
On leaving Cambridge, he was invited to meet Alan Ayckbourn in Scarborough and commissioned to write a play for the studio theatre for the Stephen Joseph Theatre. His one-act play Man Of Letters was a success and led to the commissioning of a full-length play from Ayckbourn, Neville's Island, which later transferred to the West End and has been seen in translation all round the world and has been in almost continuous production since its premier.
When Annie Clarke's husband John dies from leukaemia at an early age, her close friend Chris Harper, anxious to purchase a comfortable sofa for the visitors' lounge in the hospital where he was treated, hits upon the idea of printing a calendar featuring some of the members of the Knapely branch of the Women's Institute discreetly posing nude while engaged in traditional WI activities, such as baking and knitting, in order to raise funds. Her proposal initially is met with great scepticism, but she eventually convinces ten women to participate in the project with her. They enlist one of the hospital workers, an amateur photographer named Lawrence, to help them with the concept.
The women are invited to make a commercial - for spowder! During the preparations tensions arise between Chris and Annie. All the publicity surrounding the calendar has taken a toll on their personal lives, and they lash out at each other in angry frustration. Annie accuses Chris of ignoring her husband and son and the demands of the family business in favour of her newfound celebrity, while Chris believes Annie welcomes the Mother Teresa-like status to which she's been elevated that allows her to cater to the ill and bereaved who have bombarded her with fan mail. All is resolved eventually, and the women return home to resume life as it was before they removed their clothing.
The head of the local Women's Institute branch refuses to sanction the calendar, and Chris and Annie go to a national congress of the Women's Institute in London to plead their case. They are told the final decision rests with the local leader, who grudgingly agrees to the calendar's sale. The initial printing quickly sells out, and before long the tiny village is bombarded with members of the international media anxious to report the feel-good story.