Star-studded pedal-powered drama heads for Derbyshire

West Yorkshire Playhouse production of'BERYL'by Maxine Peake'directed by Rebecca Gatward
West Yorkshire Playhouse production of'BERYL'by Maxine Peake'directed by Rebecca Gatward
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Unsung sporting legend Beryl Burton - the greatest woman on two wheels - is celebrated in a play which is zipping towards Derbyshire.

The drama, entitled Beryl, is based on a true story about a woman who falls in love with a cyclist and the thrill and freedom found on her bike.

She went onto become five times world pursuit champion, thirteen times national pursuit champion and twice road-racing world champion.

Beryl Burton subsequently became the world and British record-holder, an MBE and an OBE.

The play - which stars Samantha Power (Coronation Street and Holby City) in the title role and Rebecca Ryan (Shameless and Emmerdale) in a supporting role - has been written by Maxine Peake and comes to Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre next month.

Talking about the play, Maxine said: “I do a bit of cycling myself and I had just gone on to a racing bike. But I’d never heard of this inspiring woman before my boyfriend gave me a copy of Beryl’s autobiography.

“I’d never done any writing, just bits myself, but I was fascinated by this story. I started wondering if it would work better on radio, with the whirr of bikes, the click of chains and the sound of tyres on the open road so I was a bit cheeky and asked the commissioner of BBC radio drama if he would commission me to do it. I expected him to say ‘n0’, so I could say at least I’d tried, but then he told me to go ahead, so I had to keep at it.”

Beryl was broadcast as a Radio 4 drama three years ago and turned into a stage production in 2014 by West Yorkshire Playhouse which has now taken it out on tour

Maxine said: “It’s fantastic that the play is going further afield because her story does have this universal appeal.”

We have two tickets to give away to see Beryl at the Pomegranate on Tuesday, November 12, at 7.30pm. They could be yours if you tell us Beryl’s surname. Email the answer, marking Beryl in the status bar, with your name, address and daytime phone number to: gay.bolton@jpress.co.uk. Entries close on November 9. The editor’s decision is final. For terms and conditions, see www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk.