John Miles and Tom Kelly have created The Dolly Mixtures, an all-new musical about eight incredible women who set-up a variety act when one of their husbands' was diagnosed with cancer – later going on to raise £100,000.

Award-winning playwright and poet Kelly and music star Miles previously created hit shows Tom & Catherine, The Machine Gunners and Dan Dare at the Customs House, South Shields.

Executive director Ray Spencer, who will also direct The Dolly Mixtures, says: “The women overcame amorous committee men, transport troubles and difficult audiences to raise £100,000 across the North-East for Cancer Research. These women really were the North East’s very own Calendar Girls and we’re thrilled to tell their story.”

The women toured the male-dominated social clubs of the North-East in the 1970s and 1980s, breaking down barriers and raising smiles and eyebrows along the way.

Margaret, whose husband Ken was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 32, says: “It’s a bit of an accolade to have this musical written about us. Back then we didn’t seek any press, now this is strange to be happening so many years later.

“We couldn’t believe it when Ray approached us, we thought who would want to hear our story but Ray said the people of the North East loved a good story and it is a good story!”

When Ken was diagnosed the "Dollys" had a pipe-dream to make his time in hospital more comfortable. They wanted to bring some happiness to the ward with a small gesture such as a dart board or pool table – no-one could have imagined that their little living room skits, which caused them to laugh so much would turn into such an inspirational story and such a lot of money for charity.

Original Dolly Mixtures member and Ken’s sister Hilda Joyce, who is also the grandmother of X Factor winner Joe McElderry, says: “When we read the script and heard the songs it took us right back to that time and we all started to cry. It took us back to the way we felt then and it made us realise, that’s why they’re telling this story.”

The Dolly Mixtures runs from Wednesday, August 24 to Saturday, September 3 and follows last summer’s hit Geordie the Musical, also written by Tom Kelly.

* Tickets are priced from £15. Box Office: or 0191-454-1234.