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EDITIONS
Saturday, 28 August, 1999, 19:19 GMT 20:19 UK
Beryl bursts into TV
One of Cook's ladies takes it easy in Bryant Park
The larger than life characters of painter Beryl Cook are to star in an animated series for TV.

The series called Bosom Pals will transport Cook's well-endowed fun-loving ladies from canvas to screen in the tales of Stella and her vivacious friends.

Splashing good fun in Cruising
Comedienne Dawn French will join acclaimed British actors Timothy Spall and Alison Steadman to give voice to Cook's colourful characters.

The planned two-part series is being made by independent Tiger Aspect Productions, with development money from the BBC.

Producer Claudia Lloyd said it would show "the heart of British culture" in the same way as the successful cartoon series, The Simpsons, depicted Middle America.

Beryl Cook, 71, only found fame as a painter in her late 40s by accident, after buying her young son a box of watercolours.

Dawn French stars as Stella
She began showing him how to use it and decided she herself quite enjoyed painting.

She went on to produce her first significant work, a half-length portrait of a dark-skinned lady with a vacant expression and large drooping breasts.

She has since become well-known for her much-loved flamboyant depictions of large, often scantily-dressed women with a lust for life and time in the pub.

Like the paintings, life in Bosom Pals centres on Cook's hallmark figures and takes place in Plymouth Hoe, in the south-coast town where Cook lived before moving to Bristol earlier this year.

The central character Stella, played by Dawn French, spends a large part of her time in her local, The Dolphin, with her boisterous friends.

Lust for life in Dining Out
They include her best friend, the outrageous Joan, played by Steadman, and cross-dresser Crystal - formerly known as the docker, Chris.

Witness to all their antics is The Dolphin's long-suffering landlord, played by Spall.

Claudia Lloyd said that all the high-profile cast had been keen to take part in the series as they were all "genuinely fans" of Cook's work.

She added: "It wasn't difficult to talk them into it." No date has yet been given for the series to be shown.

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