The play Beryl is remarkable for many reasons.

First and foremost because it tells the story of one of Yorkshire’s unsung sporting heroines – world-class champion cyclist Beryl Burton – a woman who rose to the very top of her sport. But also because the play, which premiered to coincide with last year’s Tour de France Grand Depart in Leeds, was written by someone more used to acting than producing the words - actress Maxine Peake.

Beryl, her debut work as a writer, received critical acclaim and enjoyed full houses at the West Yorkshire Playhouse before touring to other venues.

And now it’s back with another round of performances, including two nights at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield.

Maxine, whose illustrious career on stage, film and television has seen her in everything from Shameless and Silk to Miss Julie and a recent, radical version of Hamlet, found her calling as a writer after her boyfriend gave her a copy of an autobiography by Beryl Burton and suggested it might make a film.

Maxine Peake as Hamlet

As Maxine says: “I was fascinated by the story. I started talking to Justine Potter, who eventually went on to produce and direct Beryl - A Love Story on Two Wheels and she said ‘why don’t you write it?’ I started to wonder if it would work better on radio..... I was a bit cheeky and asked the commissioner of BBC radio drama if he would commission me to do it.”

And so in 2012 Beryl became a work for Radio 4, and then in 2014 Maxine re-wrote it for the stage.

During the creation of the play Maxine, who is a cyclist herself, spoke to Beryl’s widower Charlie and realised that theirs was a love story with a strong family theme.

She said: “He was always 100% behind her at a time when it would more usually have been the other way around. I wanted to write something about ordinary people who did just carry on with normal everyday lives while they also had this extraordinary other life.”

The play has a cast of distinguished and experienced actors, designers and producers.

It is directed by Rebecca Gatward, who has worked in the West End, for the Globe Theatre and on a number of productions for the WYP.

West Yorkshire Playhouse production of BERYL by Maxine Peake directed by Rebecca Gatward

The lead role of Beryl is taken by Samantha Power, who has made a number of television appearances in everything from Coronation Street and Holby to Shameless and Heartbeat, and has worked in regional theatres including the WYP and Royal Exchange.

Beryl can be seen on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 10 and 11, at the LBT. Tickets are from £7 to £16 from 01484 430528 or There is a post-show discussion with the cast on Tuesday, November 10.

Beryl Burton, nee Charnock, was five times world pursuit champion, 13 times national pursuit champion and twice road-racing world champion.