Educating Rita on stage at Derby

A few years ago actress Julie Walters disclosed that she had influenced her female fans in unexpected ways – inspiring them to leave their husbands.

Walters, who appeared in Educating Rita 30 years ago, said strangers still walked up to her to reveal they had ended their marriages because of her and the film, or they had got an education.

Starring Walters, Michael Caine and Maureen Lipman, the film told the story of a young hairdresser who sought to better herself through study.

Frank, played by Caine, has almost completely given up. Given up on his ambition to be a poet. Disillusioned with teaching undergraduate English students, he was reflecting on his life. That is, until Rita walks in.

The 26-year-old, married hairdresser has decided to take control of her life and earn herself an education.

With Rita’s tenacious honesty and Frank’s deep intellect, together they inspire each other to rediscover life in their own way.

This month talented actors, David Birrell as Frank and Jessica Baglow as Rita, will bring this inspirational and humorous story to life on the stage at Derby Theatre, in association with the Octagon Theatre at Bolton.

The play’s director Elizabeth Newman said: “Educating Rita is an important story that needs to be told now. Willy Russell’s uplifting masterpiece champions the idea that, as people, we can find freedom through education and therefore gain choice in our lives.

“It feels vital in 2016/17 that we share these ideas and celebrate curiosity with our audiences. This is a play that I feel very passionately about and it’s a huge privilege to be able to bring it to life in Bolton and in Derby. We are very excited to be working with Derby Theatre again.”

David is an award-winning actor, who won a Manchester Theatre Award for his role as Peter Stockmann in Enemy of the People and a Manchester Theatre Award for his role of Osborne in Journey’s End, both for the Octagon Theatre. For TV, David has appeared in such shows as The Royal, Midsomer Murders and Coronation Street.

Jessica has recently received an Ian Charleson Award commendation for her performance as Marina in Pericles at the Globe Theatre (2015) and was awarded a Manchester Theatre Award for her role as Poppy in the ensemble of Noises Off (Octagon Theatre).

For TV, Jessica has appeared in Waterloo Road, Emmerdale and Holby City.

Educating Rita plays at Derby Theatre from February 17-March 11. For more information go to