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Digital Subscriptions > The Cricketer Magazine > December 2017 > Freddie’s back

Freddie’s back

Flintoff takes to the stage in Fat Friends

Andrew Flintoffsucceeded Ian Botham by becoming England’s No.1 allrounder, and recently he followed in his footsteps again. Flintoffmade his stage debut in Fat Friends – the Musical, playing the role of Kevin for seven dates of a UK tour in Bradford. There was a certain irony in the choice of production. The England management were concerned about his weight in 2000 and the story found its way into the press. After a matchwinning performance against Zimbabwe, Flintoffdeclared: “All right for a fat lad.” Botham made his panto debut at Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre in December 1990 alongside George and Zippy, from ITV children’s classic, Rainbow. The Daily Express said: “The expressionless Botham is the only wooden thing on stage apart from the beanstalk – and even that projects itself better.” Ouch. That review did not deter him. Oh no it didn’t! He then appeared in Dick Whittington as Silly Midoffin 1992 at the Theatre Royal Bath with Confessions actor Robin Askwith and EastEnders legend June Brown (Dot Cotton). That delayed his arrival on England’s tour to New Zealand that winter. He finally made it over for the third Test at Christchurch, where he won his 100th Test cap (recalled for David Lawrence’s horrific knee injury). Fat Friends writer Kay Mellor said: “I was introduced to Freddie at one of our TV casting sessions – it was clear to me that he could leave his cricket bat behind, embody a character, and understand the drama. It was a no-brainer… he got the part. Then I wondered if Freddie could sing. I was ecstatic when his voice was perfect for the role.

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