NEXT month - brace yourselves - marks 30 years since Take That released Pray and nailed their first ever number one atop the UK singles chart. 11 more would follow over the next three decades.

The then five-piece pop group had actually formed in Manchester some three years prior, under the stewardship of Nigel Martin-Smith and around the talent of Gary Barlow. Yet, as marks of success go, you can’t beat topping the hit parade.

Here’s another mark of success: attaining enough chart topping bangers that your discography warrants a jukebox musical. From ABBA came Mamma Mia and from Queen there was We Will Rock You. This week, meanwhile, sees the release of Greatest Days: aka, the official Take That musical.

Directed by Coky Giedroyc, the film is based on Tim Firth’s 2017 show The Band. That being the West End hit that found its five headliners in BBC talent contest Let It Shine the year before. It was a 2022 cruise liner transfer that saw The Band pared down and renamed, before finally making the leap to cinema. Patience pays off.

Aisling Bea is Rachel, a 40-something, no-nonsense paediatric nurse who was once a bright eyed and bushy tailed youngster in Clitheroe. Life was far from peachy back in Lancashire, however, Rachel could always find solace in the pop haven of her favourite boy band. Lara McDonnell is a very convincing young Bea in these flashbacks.

Back in the present, Rachel is stunned to find herself the winner of four tickets to see her old teen idols - the band go unnamed here - perform in sunny Athens. When it comes to filling the other three spaces on the trip, only Rachel’s old school friends will do. That’s despite their not having been in touch for 25 years.

Exuberant musical numbers pepper Giedroyc’s direction, each a fantastical figment of lovelorn imagination. At heart, however, this is a film about friendship and the life events that tie us to our closest confidants. When it comes to childhood friends, it doesn’t take much to relight the fire.

Alice Lowe, Amaka Okafor and Jayde Adams make for a likeable cohort, well balancing the inevitable road bumps that must accompany the film’s joie de vivre leanings.

Those taken with the film will be pleased to learn that the stage show is currently touring.