BBC backs ‘epic’ Laurel and Hardy biopic

lt captures the deep emotional bond forged over a lifetime

The BBC has commissioned an “epic” biopic of Laurel and Hardy and their farewell tour of Britain.

The 90-minute film, Stan and Ollie, which is made for television, has been backed by the big-hitting US producer Harvey Weinstein.

The project has been in development for a while, but had failed to get off the ground. Jeff Pope, who wrote Mrs Biggs and Philomena, has penned the screenplay. So far, no actors have been cast.

Shane Allen, the controller of BBC comedy commissioning, said: “Stan and Ollie is Jeff’s love letter to two pioneers and enduring giants of screen comedy. It beautifully captures the deep emotional bond forged over a lifelong partnership as they reflect on their rollercoaster careers through the prism of this final UK farewell tour.”

The film will chronicle the pair’s British tour in 1953, at which time the Hollywood stars had fallen from grace after a run of poorly received films and a split from their mentor. Hardy’s failing health and a series of acrimonious divorces only compounded the situation, yet the tour proved a success, with audiences flocking to see them. Until Hardy’s heart attack.

Charlotte Moore, the controller of BBC1, said it was a “poignant single film about one of Britain’s best-loved double acts”. It will cover  the very end of the pair’s remarkable career, as Hardy roused himself from his sickbed for a few last, triumphant performances.