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Lincolnshire-born writer's tale of youth anxiety told in E4 television drama My Mad, Fat Diary

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: January 12, 2013

  • Sharon Rooney who plays Rae Earl in My Mad, Fat Diary

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A Lincolnshire-born writer who suffered from crippling anxiety throughout her youth has had her personal diaries turned into a new television drama.

Rae Earl was 16 when she first started writing her diaries in January, 1989. She was a boy-mad Morrissey fan who had just been released from a psychiatric ward three months previous.

The diaries were published back in 2007 and soon became a best-seller.

Now, nearly quarter of a century since Rae first put pen to paper, her life story has been transformed for the small screen as E4's My Mad, Fat Diary.

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Rising star Sharon Rooney plays the role of Rae – and the series sees her tackle key teenage issues from her relationship with her mother, making new friends and losing her virginity.

But speaking to the Echo, Rae, who worked on creating the show as a consultant, explained that living in Lincolnshire was an integral part of her story.

She said: "Lincolnshire is a very special and misunderstood part of Britain and people always ask me where it is.

"There aren't many in such a huge county but it lends itself beautifully, and still does, to the melancholy of teenage life.

"I really miss Lincolnshire. It's a beautiful place with vast fields of crops to walk through and listen to music.

"When I was growing up, I had a very tight group of friends, everyone knew everyone else and we'd go to the same pub every Saturday night – and that was amazing.

"I think we've done it proud in My Mad, Fat Diary. Anyone who's lived there as a teenager will understand the feelings but it honours the sense of community that's still there."

Rae weighed 16st as a teenager and was diagnosed with a number of mental health issues, including anxiety which today affects 290,000 young people.

And with as many as one in ten young people in the UK aged between 6 and 16 suffering from a diagnosable mental health disorder, Rae hopes the TV adaptation of her diaries will serve as a beacon of light for troubled youngsters.

"The book itself is quite mature in places and quite rude, so I never thought it would appeal to a teenage audience," she said.

"But the interesting thing is I heard from both teenagers and adults saying that they had felt, or still did feel, the way that I did.

"Lots of people still get in touch through Twitter and it's very touching.

"I suppose we think because the book was set in 1989 that it wouldn't have much in common with the modern teenager. But it still does. Even though we have iPhones now, the issues are still the same.

"I'd love it if people would get some comfort from it. It's very difficult to be an adolescent at any time."

Originally born in Stamford, Rae now lives in Hobart, in Tasmania. She has been married for 13 years and has a son.

She added: "I think it's absolutely fabulous that it's been made into a TV series and they've done a brilliant job. No matter what generation you're from, it will speak to you and relate to you.

"I'd say my story now though is very, very happy and my demons are tethered.

"And if they ever start playing around, I make them work for me. That's partly where the diary came from."

My Mad, Fat Diary airs on Monday, January 14 on E4 at 10pm.

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  • gazlincoln  |  January 12 2013, 9:32AM

    i did wonder when one of lincolnshire's few claim to fames would actuelly make the counties news website!