IT'S one cracker of a show and it's on its way to Southampton.

The cast of Calendar Girls The Musical are getting into the Christmas spirit ahead of their arrival at Mayflower Theatre in January by posing in their birthday suits in front of a giant Christmas cracker.

Star novelist and television presenter Fern Britton, Hi-De-Hi favourite Ruth Madoc and Coronation Street and TV star Denise Welsh dared to bare as they rehearsed for the show, brought to the stage by Take That's Gary Barlow and Olivier Award winner Tim Firth, who penned the award-winning Calendar Girls play.

The musical comedy is inspired by the true story of a group of ladies who decide to appear nude for a Women’s Institute calendar in order to raise funds to buy a settee for their local hospital, in memory of one of their husbands, and have to date raised almost £5million for Bloodwise.

It shows life in their Yorkshire village, how it happened, the effect on husbands, sons and daughters, and how a group of ordinary ladies achieved something extraordinary.

Calendar Girls also stars Anna-Jane Casey, best known for Billy Elliot, West End favourite Sara Crowe and Rebecca Storm, who famously played Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers.

The critically acclaimed production played a six-month London season last year, which followed sold-out seasons in Leeds and Manchester.

Denise Welch told the Daily Echo: "I have spent a lot of my career in TV where everything is done as fast as possible. With this show it has had time invested in it; it has been completely re-thought since it was in the West End. Tim Firth is a God! Every full stop is there for a reason, and Gary’s music – oh wow!

"Tim, Gary and Matt our director are playing against the typical belty musical. This is special; original, feel-good and very different to a typical musical."

The new tour, which is in Southampton from January 8 to 19, is based on the true story, the film and the award-winning play.