WRITTEN by Bolton actor Maxine Peake, Beryl, which is currently playing at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre, tells the inspiring life story of unsung sporting hero Beryl Burton, a British cyclist who dominated cycle racing in the 1950s-60s, winning numerous national titles, becoming world champion seven times and breaking multiple world records.

Saddling up for the role is Tottington-actress Vicky Binns, known to millions as Molly Dobbs in Coronation Street, and now taking on the task of bringing Beryl’s obsessive will to win to the stage.

“The difference between TV and theatre is massive,” she said. “There are just four of us on the stage and we see the story through from beginning to end and we get an immediate response from the audience. With TV can you go through it and not meet 90% of the cast and then there’s a huge period of time before it’s aired.”

Taking on such a physical role has meant Vicky, 37, has had to literally get on her bike each night.

“I’m pretty stiff around the legs, but it’s cheaper than a gym membership,” she laughed. “Luckily I came into the play pretty fit so it was a case of crossing my fingers and trusting the process. Fortunately we’ve got some padded seats on the bikes and some padded cycling shorts, which as you can imagine are very flattering!

“The rehearsals were a bit of a baptism of fire and I do have to say it is a physically exhausting show and you certainly feel like you’ve earned your sleep. Beryl did everything with a really pure determination and so hopefully we’ve got that across - it’s all been about spirit and effort which is really what her essence is all about.”

Beryl was originally written by Peake as a radio play, but was adapted for the stage to coincide with the start of the Tour de France in Leeds in 2014.

“I remember listening to the radio play in my car and not being able to get out until it had finished,” said Vicky. “We pose the question why is this woman not more well known and I suppose it is a culmination of things: cycling not being as popular and women in sport not being as popular being two of them.”

In the late 2000s, cycling began to undergo a boom with riders such as Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Sir Bradley Wiggins, and Rebecca Romero, becoming household names - a far cry from the fame Beryl achieved in her lifetime.

“Beryl was much more about guts and determination, but of course she would have wanted more recognition,” said Vicky. “Today she would have been like Serena Williams and then some and it’s interesting that she was far better known in Europe where cycling was more popular.”

The chance to work with Peake was not one Vicky was going to turn down and she is clear about what an inspiration the 45-year-old is to other North West actresses.

“She is someone you look up to,” she said. “It makes such a difference to see someone out there doing such tremendous work who is from a similar background to you. She is someone you can relate to and she has that personality where she is incredibly grounded and incredibly smart.

“Maxine is so diverse in what she does too - she wrote Beryl because she thought it would be fun for actors to perform. She has been involved throughout the process and came to the press night with her dad. To put it simply, she’s just incredibly talented.”

With popular roles in both Emmerdale and Coronation Street, Vicky is something of a soap veteran but don’t count on a return to the cobbles just yet.

“It never occurred to me I’d do two soaps,” she added. “I came in when the Battersbys were at their peak, but it when far more down the drama route later on and I ended up as a baddie who was having an affair with Kevin Webster and ended up dying by having a tram hit me in the face.

“The good thing about that is no one can ask me if I coming back!”

n Beryl, Octagon Theatre, Bolton, until Saturday, October 19. Details from www.octagonbolton.co.uk