Original Calendar Girls Strip Off Again, a Decade On

LONDON ~ A group of the original Calendar Girls celebrated this week the 10th anniversary of their decision to strip – and launched a series of new images of themselves in the buff.

Six of the original 11 women from Rylstone Women’s Institute, in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales of northern England, have stripped again to mark the anniversary and are preparing to release a 2010 calendar next month.

A television documentary about their story was to be screened in Britain, showing how they made their original saucy but discreet calendar in 1999 in the modest hope of raising enough money to buy a sofa for a hospital waiting room.

Instead, they unwittingly spawned a phenomenon and launched a thousand copycat calendars featuring subjects ranging from firefighters to women hockey players.

Over the past decade, the original Calendar Girls have found themselves travelling the world and portrayed in a 2003 Hollywood movie starring Helen Mirren.

A stage version has just opened in London’s West End and the women’s fundraising has topped almost £2 million (US$3 million).

But the original 11 Calendar Girls split in 2003 after a dispute over the filming of their story, which was inspired by the death of Angela Baker’s husband, John, in 1998.

She said: “It wasn’t 11 women having a good time, taking their clothes off; we did it in memory of John and to raise money for Leukaemia Research – and that’s what we have not got to forget.”

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