It's a plight many of us can relate to.

Trying to get 'bikini-ready' ahead of a holiday, crash dieting before a party to squeeze into that little black dress, and that pair of 'someday' jeans that haven't fit for years but you can't bear to throw them out.

Kay Mellor's BAFTA-nominated Fat Friends ran for four seasons from 2000-2005, capturing the ups and downs of weekly weigh-ins at a Headingley slimming club and the day-to-day battles members faced as they tried to shift the pounds.

And now Fat Friends the Musical, which premiered at Leeds Grand Theatre, is exploring the agonies and the ecstasies all over again - but this time with jazz hands.

Fat Friends the Musical's opening scene of a class of lycra-clad slimmers busting a gut at a Zumba class, determined to banish the bulge, was a riotous start in what really is a very funny show.

It's Headingley setting means it's also Leeds through and through - Jodie Prenger, as Kelly, at times sounded more Leeds than the folk that actually live here.

Jodie Prenger (Kelly) and Sam Bailey (Betty) in Fat Friends the Musical
Jodie Prenger (Kelly) and Sam Bailey (Betty) in Fat Friends the Musical

Jodie, winner of BBC 1's I'd Do Anything back in 2008, is now a musical superstar. She truly shone as no-nonsense bride-to-be Kelly, showing that even the strongest characters have their insecurities and may take desperate measures to find their version of 'beautiful'.

And 2013 X Factor winner Sam Bailey was a fabulous co-star as mum Betty. Anyone who saw her in the ITV competition knows she has an incredible voice - I can confirm she's also a cracking actress too, sashaying through the choreography with ease.

Neil Hurst (Alan) and Kevin Kennedy (Fergus) in Fat Friends the Musical
Neil Hurst (Alan) and Kevin Kennedy (Fergus) in Fat Friends the Musical

The cast is small but full of talent - Natasha Hamilton (of Atomic Kitten fame) is devilish as superficial Julia Fleshman, owning the stage in Stinking Rich , while Kevin Kennedy (Curly Watts off Corrie!) showed off his vocals while playing the sad clown.

Jonathan Halliwell and Natalie Anderson's romantic tension as Paul and Lauren was adorable, as was Neil Hurst's portrayal of Alan, the trying (but failing) slimmer who can't seem to lose the pounds but seems to be losing his wife.

Natalie Anderson (Lauren) and Jonathan Halliwell (Paul) in Fat Friends the Musical
Natalie Anderson (Lauren) and Jonathan Halliwell (Paul) in Fat Friends the Musical

Chloe Hart's character, Look North reporter Val, has to be applauded for being a normal TV journalist, instead of the mega-glamourous nightmares you usually see in shows and on TV (thank you Kay Mellor for dodging the stereotype!).

But we need to talk about Freddie.

Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff captured nice-but-dim Kevin well and won plenty of laughs - but sadly, his vocals just weren't up to the task. I mean, anyone's going to be challenged dueting with Jodie Prenger, but her talent only made his average abilities more obvious.

As an actor, the cricketing star captured the Leeds accent well (I challenge you to find a more Yorkshire adjective than chuffin') but at times he was a touch wooden in his delivery. The Only Fool is Me was a great soft-rock interlude in Act 2, but sadly the orchestra drowned him out.

Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff as Kevin in Fat Friends the Musical
Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff as Kevin in Fat Friends the Musical

The music, composed by Nick Lloyd Webber (son of musical titan Andrew), was daft and delightful in equal measure - Corset Song and Big and Battered were comic gold, and Kay Mellor's lyrics throughout showcased her clever wit.

Diets Are Crap should become some sort of anthem, quite frankly, and was expertly delivered by bold, brave Jodie Prenger.

Fat Friends the Musical has all the elements you need for a feel-good night out at the theatre - likeable characters, lots of laughs and a fantastic book.

It was made all the more brilliant by capturing Leeds in all its guts and glory, with the dialect and characterisation spot on.

Last night's show was the charity gala night for Children in Need, and the original Betty and Kelly, Fat Friends' cast members Alison Steadman and Ruth Jones, happily joined the standing ovation at the end of the show, as did I.

Fat Friends the Musical is super-sized fun with a fantastic cast - and show Leeds can be proud of.

Fat Friends the Musical is at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday December 2.

Tickets cost £20-£50.

To book, visit or call 0844 848 2700.