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Forget the awful pun above – fans of good old-fashioned comedy are in for something special because Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly will don their bowler hats to star as Laurel and Hardy in a BBC film.
The John S. Baird-directed project, written by Philomena scribe Jeff Pope and produced jointly by Faye Ward‘s Fable Pictures and Sonesta Films, will centre around the twosome’s 1953 tour.
Stan & Ollie will explore how this swansong – Hardy’s health was deteriorating by this point – was looking to be an inglorious final curtain. Audience figures were a fraction of their heyday, but the pair’s bond and innate ability to make each other laugh eventually shone through, winning the fans over (including some new ones) and eventually ensuring that this farewell was a roaring success.
Pope said: “Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are my heroes. When I watch their movies, in my head it is forever a Saturday morning and I am six years old watching the TV at home utterly spellbound.
“I am aware of the huge responsibility of bringing their characters to life, but I have not treated the boys with kid gloves or looked at them through rose-coloured specs. These are living and breathing characters, with flaws and shortcomings.”
Sufragette producer Ward is equally enraptured, saying: “I feel privileged to have been entrusted to bring to screen the magnificent lives and work of comedy legends, Laurel and Hardy.” Baird, whose recent credits include the James MacAvoy vehicle Filth, said: “Like so many others I grew up watching Laurel and Hardy and I’m therefore honoured to help bring this incredible true story of love, laughter and friendship to the big screen.”
Aside from their slapstick humour and universal appeal, one of the duo’s trademarks was their terribly catchy theme tune. If you thought Friends and Only Fools and Horses were both memorable, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet! A release date for Stan & Ollie is as yet unknown.