In the Spring of 2005, when Grumpy Old Women had already been successful on the television, the producer Judith Holder and Grumpy contributor Jenny Eclair had a simultaneous brain wave: Why not write the live show? Looking back it was probably the HRT talking (to be honest no one can remember whose idea it was first, and they will probably end up in court over it).
The show was semi-written separately allowing both Grumpy Old Women simultaneously to talk to the plumber, bleach the loo and put a wash on. It was then re-written when Jenny went to stay with Judith who has got a spare room complete with a rocking horse, a bed and everything. Judith made Jenny go swimming as well as write which was a bit beyond the call of duty, but she makes a very good cheese souffle so that was nice. Jenny made Judith take a good long look at all her shoes, and gave her a lesson in how to make herself look less Women's Royal Voluntary Service and more sex goddess. Judith secretly kept her comfiest slip-ons, and wears them when Jenny isn't looking.
Then they started casting, which was simple they chose great performers who could stand to be in a small train carriage with each other, obviously it was a short list.
Rehearsals began for a mini-tour in the Autumn of 2005, the director, Chris George, got a bit cross when the ladies forgot their lines and it turned into a proper Grumpy Old experience but with a lot of laughs. The women shared Marks and Spencer's couscous and compared techniques for complaining to the council. Sometimes they brought in catalogues.
The mini-tour of seven dates set off in November 2005 and went really well which was a huge relief to everyone, but mainly the producers who were a bit scared. People laughed a lot, and in the interval when people had their very own Lakeland catalogues to browse in, Jenny and Judith felt the full impact of the Grumpy Old Women movement had been born. It was evident that one way or another, women of a certain age who pop out in their anorak or spend their Saturday mornings at the bottle bank will never be ignored, or over-looked again. All of a sudden it was ok to be a middle aged woman. No, much better than that, all of a sudden it was cool to be a woman of a certain age. It was cool to be grumpy, and this made Judith and Jenny very happy indeed.
In the Spring of 2006 the first Grumpy cast, Jenny Eclair, Dillie Keane and Linda Robson set off on a 40 date sell out national tour. Despite this nearly killing them, the ladies then went straight into a four week West End run at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave, offering comfort and entertainment to a great many World Cup widows.
Following the West End run the Grumpy bandwagon continued to roll on. For the Autumn tour two brand new Grumpies were recruited, Rhona Cameron and Annette Badland. Together with Jenny they ventured off on another sell out national tour, with new cities to explore and new Loos to try out. Again the tour was a success with thousands of women filling theatres across the country and leaving hundreds of men with no idea what they were going to have for their dinner.
After being on the road for two consecutive tours (and a run in the West End darling!), with nearly a years worth of blisters and more time spent on a train than any other human should be expected to endure, the Grumpies decided that they didn't want to spend the winter in a rainy old Britain. So the original cast reunited, (less like a glorious reunion more like a WI meeting) to go on the first international Grumpy crusade to an unsuspecting Australia.
Hugely popular runs in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth proved beyond any doubt that the Grumpy Old Woman is a global phenomenon. From Cardiff to Canberra, women of a certain age could finally unite behind a common fear of graying hairs and sagging rears. Around the world it was suddenly ok to celebrate the cellulite. This again made the Grumpies very happy. We came, we grumbled, we conquered.
Two years after the first Grumpy mini-tour, the movement continued to gather steam, following the oz adventure two further bad tempered old bags were recruited, Denise Black and the first international grump- Britt Ekland. Along with Dillie, all three packed their bags and boarded the Grumpy tour bus for a third nationwide complain-a-thon. In spring 2008 the original cast; Jenny Eclair, Dillie Keane and Linda Robson reunited for one night only- in all of their middle-aged (and slightly sagging) glory for a rambunctious grump fest that promised to be grumpier than ever.
In March 2009 the brand new live show 'Grumpy Old Women Live 2: Chin Up Britain' was announced. The new show starred Susie Blake (Coronation Street, The Victoria Wood Show) and Wendi Peters (Coronation Street, Bad Girls) alongside original Grump Jenny Eclair. In autumn 2009 the ladies hit the road with a show packed full of handy hints on getting through these hard times the grumpy way. Audiences were delighted to see the GOW tackle such pertinent issues as: grumping through the ages, menu masochism; why the recession is good for our kids, celebrity culling, plus The Grumpy Guide to Safe Grumpy Rumpy Pumpy! The Grumpies attracted their ever faithful fellow Grumps, whilst welcoming a legion of new grumpy followers.
After a sell out 60 date National tour the Grumpies announced an eight week run in London's West End, where they will tread the boards (whilst trying not to break them) in all of their collective grumpy glory.
Grumpy Old Women Abroad
Further confirming the shows global appeal, Grumpy Old Women Live is currently causing a flurry of excitement abroad. So far the hit show has been translated into Icelandic and Finnish touring each country with a local celeb cast. With the movement continuing to gather steam, and Sweden, France and New Zealand already in the pipeline Grumpy world domination has never felt closer.