Writer Rae Earl has been overwhelmed with positive feedback following the launch of a second TV series based on her teenage diaries as a pupil at Stamford High School.
My Mad Fat Diary aired on Channel 4’s E4 at 10pm on Monday and prompted a flurry of activity among the author’s Twitter followers.
Last year’s first series of six shows averaged 1.2 million viewers and Rae’s Twitter account grew from 200 followers to 10,000 - she now has 15,700 and that figure looks set to rise.
Unable to see the programme in real time at her home in Hobart, Tasmania, Rae tweeted: “Thanks for all the lovely tweets about #mymadfatdiary. I am now off to see John Cleese LIVE in concert. Peeing myself with excitement!”
She also praised script writer Tom Bidwell and actress Sharon Rooney, who plays her, for making the show such a success.
The book and TV show proved a big hit last year with their comic and poignant tackling of taboo subjects such as mental health and being overweight. Positive comment came from the likes of Times columnist Caitlin Moran, comedian Sarah Millican and American comedy drama Glee star Kevin McHale.
Commenting herself in the Mercury at the time, Rae said: “Normal teenage angst has been done to death but the misery of being a 16st teenager with major mental health issues hadn’t really been covered before and it has struck a chord with many people.”
Her personal issues involved self-harm, over-eating, unrequited love and fights with her mother and she once spent two weeks on a hospital psychiatric ward.
But she was well supported at Stamford High School and went on to conquer her demons, gaining a university degree and working as a radio presenter in Peterborough, Leicester and Derby before heading off to Australia where she met her husband, Kevin Johnson.
The show’s scripts were written from Rae’s first book: My Fat Mad Teenage Diary which was published in 2007 and based on one 1989 diary.
The TV show is actually set in 1996 and has a Britpop soundtrack. A second book: My Madder Fatter Diary, based on subsequent diaries, was published recently.
Rae, now 42, lives with her husband and four-year-old son Harry in Tasmania. She was recently back in Stamford to visit her family, especially her mum Diane, also a character in the book and TV series who she now gets on very well with. Diane was already well-known in Stamford for her years spent working on the lottery counter at Morrisons.
At one time she almost threw her diaries away, but was stopped by Kevin who thought “they might make something one day”!