AS Habibti Driver gets its world premiere at Bolton's Octagon Theatre, writer Shamia Chalabi won't have time to worry about how things are going.

For Shamia - who co-wrote the comedy with Sarah Henley - is also starring in the production, which also happens to be based on her own life.

"I think I might have underestimated it all, " she laughed. "During rehearsals I have been wondering 'did I really think this through properly?'"

Habibti Driver is based on Shamia's experiences of growing up in Wigan, particularly her relationship with her father.

The play got its first airing as a play reading as part of the Octagon's First Bite series which was titled Burkhas and Bacon Butties. Now it forms a key component of the Octagon's debut season following the theatre's multi-million pound re-vamp.

"The title has changed and certain things have been developed but anyone who came along to the readings would certainly recognise the play," said Sarah. "Even at that early stage it went down really well."

Both Sarah and Shamia are keen to stress that first and foremost Habibti Driver is a comedy.

"It's the very opposite of an issue-led Muslim piece," said Sarah. "It's a family comedy with a lot of heart."

"For us to bring this play to the Octagon is a really big deal," said Shamia. "It really feels as though it belongs here."

Shamia admits that she started writing the play to create something she could act in.

"I was basically writing it to give myself a job," she laughed. "There weren't many parts out there that I felt was me - so that seems to have worked out OK doesn't it?"

With Shamia being so closely associated with the play, what was Sarah's role in the development of the work?

"Sarah's been the quality control," said Shamia. "She has been integral to the whole production.She's an amazing writer and it wouldn't have happened without her input."

"All the ingredients for the play are in Shamia's story," said Sarah. "There were almost too many ingredients so part of my role has been narrowing it down and trying to keep everything on track. Also it's about remembering that certain things which are very funny to the two of us aren't necessarily going to be funny for an audience."

Shamia added: "I'm so lucky that I know I will get absolute honesty from Sarah."

"I don't want her to look an idiot," Sarah said. "Shamia trusts me and if something has got to be cut we'll cut it. it's about putting something on and make it the best it can be. It's all about the show not our egos."

As co-writer and star, has Shamia had difficulty in handing over the reigns in rehearsal to director Sepy Baghaei?

"It's important that the cast take ownership of their own characters and it has been time for me to step back and just become an actor," she said. "But that has been harder too as when we've been discussing the characters I have suddenly found myself talking about personal things which I should have expected but hadn't. I suddenly started realising how exhausting this journey might be."

Given that is it based on her own experiences, how have Shamia's family reacted to the play.

"I think first and foremost they are proud of what we have achieved," she said. "My dad was a bit nervous as the play highlights our relationship and lot. But my parents have read the script and are happy about how they have been portrayed."

"Your mum saw an early version of it and wanted more scenes," laughed Sarah. "So we did write a bit more in for her."

The pair are hopeful that Habibti Driver may not only be a successful stage play but could also be a TV series.

"We are actively pursuing that," said Sarah. "The characters and the world they live in are pretty much there. We're hoping that some production companies might come along to the Octagon to see the play and get a feel for it."

Whether it makes it to TV or not, Shamia and Sarah are delighted with what they have achieved and are urging audiences to come along.

"After the last couple of years, it's really important to be able to go out and have a laugh," said Shamia. "This is what the play is all about; it's about a dysfunctional family and characters and situations that everyone will recognise."

Habibti Driver, Octagon Theatre, Bolton, until Saturday, May 7. Details from