THE wait for fans of The Bad Mother’s Handbook is almost over.

Blackrod author Kate Long has written a follow-up to her best-selling 2004 novel, which was later made into a one-off hit TV show starring comedian Catherine Tate.

Bad Mothers United, which is out on February 28, catches up with characters Charlotte, Karen and Nan who are back — older, but probably not wiser — and as hilariously catastrophic as ever.

Mother-of-two Mrs Long said: “Bad Mother’s Handbook was set in 1997.

“Bad Mothers United is the year 2000, and everything has moved on three years. Charlotte, the teenage heroine, she had her baby at the end of Bad Mother’s Handbook.

“She has gone to university, she’s like a part-time mum, trying to be as good a mum as she can and not feeling as if she is managing it.”

Mrs Long, a former Bolton School pupil who worked as an English teacher until 2003, had not intended to write a follow-up but was contacted by scores of readers who loved the book and wanted to know what happened next.

She said: “I had closed the door on that but I had so many emails from fans asking what happened to them? I can’t wait actually, it feels like the characters are sort of clamouring.”

The books are set in the fictional town of Bank Top, based on Blackrod, where Mrs Long, who now lives in Shropshire, grew up.

She said: “One of the characters speaks in local dialect.

“The story is told by three people, one of whom is a woman just coming up to 80 and, of course, she would have spoken in dialect.

“I grew up with dialect. I don’t speak it but I can understand it.

“What’s happened to English is it’s becoming homogenised because of the media as we are hearing the same handful of voices over and over again and because people are moving about more, geographically and socially.”

The Bad Mother’s Handbook was Kate’s debut novel and became publishing house Picador's best-selling fiction title in 2004, translated into 20 languages.

In 2007 the ITV programme also featured a young Robert Pattinson, ahead of his Twilight film and Hollywood stardom.

Kate, who is 50,000 words into her next book, said: “That was amazing but I had to take a step back and let other people change the book — because it’s changed into a different form, it can’t stay the same.

“It was weird, having people speak the lines that I had written. But it was great, I absolutely loved the TV version.”

Bad Mothers United will be Kate’s seventh published book.