Twentieth Century Fox is planning a film of the quintessential British stage farce 'Run For Your Wife'. The studio wants to capitalise on the success of new wave British comedies such as 'The Full Monty' and 'Brassed Off'. The company is said to be offering more than one million dollars to the show's creator, Ray Cooney, for screen rights to the trouser- dropping farce in the touching belief that it is part of the new wave. Cooney, who is in Los Angeles for negotiations with Fox, said: "I think that with the success of 'The Full Monty' and 'Brassed Off', Hollywood has started to look at British films and British comedy in a very positive way. I am in negotiations and it looks as if this time it is finally going to happen." Cooney remains unfashionable among British theatre critics, though not among audiences. He has written 16 farces and 'Run For Your Wife' ran in the West End for nine years. But none has yet been made into a film. Indeed the Fox project, to be produced by Harold Ramis, the man behind 'Ghostbusters', will be the first attempt by a big studio to film a British farce since 'No Sex, Please, We're British' 20 years ago. But can Cooney's politically incorrect world of randy men, scatterbrained women and gesticulating homosexuals possibly translate? David Lister eavesdrops on a planning meeting at the Hollywood studios.

OK, we got The Full Monty out-grossing Jurassic Park. I want another Brit comedy quick. What can you give me?

No problem. The Full Monty guys have come up with a new idea. I think it's cool. A bunch of unemployed male strippers decide to open a steelworks. The funniest part is we should be able to do the same deal as we did with Bobby Carlyle and the gang - the one that gives the Brit producers the artistic cred and keeps us the money.

Yeah, well, maybe. Pitch me something else.

OK. We got a guy called Cooney outside.

You mean the old guy? I thought he was the elevator boy.

Well, he's 65. Writes plays, acts in them, produces them, directs them and puts them on in a theatre he owns.

Jeez, does he sell the ice creams too?

He's got this show Run For Your Wife. Played in London for nine years. They have these crazy comedies over there. Whitehall Farce. They call it a "genre" or something.

Wait a minute I think I heard something about that. Scary, bearded guy, takes his girl friend on government trips, locks her up in the dark in his house. Then gets rid of his secretary.

No. Tarantino's doing that one. Our guy has a cab driver in downtown StreatHAM. He's got one wife in StreatHAM and another wife in Wimbledon.

Does she play tennis?

If you want her to. But the main point is the two wives. The cab driver is knocked out in an accident, gets confused, gives the wrong address and the cops try to arrest him for bigamy.

I guess it could work. He gets mugged in the Bronx. Has a broad in Brooklyn and a broad on the upper west side. We'll get De Niro to re-create his role as a taxi driver. Get the publicity boys on that. Jodie Foster can reprise also. Make her one of the wives. Tell her she can direct. Bette Midler can be the other one. It'll give out the right comedy signals. I believe she plays tennis too. But it still don't sound like The Full Monty to me. We need guys pulling down their pants.

They got one in London. A specialist. Name of Rix. Did it every night on stage for 20 years. They gave him a peerage.

Isn't that like some kind of an Academy Award over there?

Kind of. It might put up his fee.

OK, find something for him. Is there another male role?

Yeah, there's the cab driver's neighbour. He's gay.

Gay. Yeah, that's good. Scrap Rix, and get me Tom Hanks. Sensitive dimension. Confidante for the two women, he and they trying to make sense of their lives. The difficulties of a meaningful relationship on the mean streets of New York.

No, not exactly. He kind of, how can I put it, prances about. Keeps waving his arms. Wrist goes all limp. Calls people "ducky".

That's funny?

The Brits seem to think so. It must be part of the new wave.

No way. We'd be lynched. Is there anything else.

There's a movie script called Carry On Matron.

Hospital drama. That's better. Get rid of Cooney. Tell him we're using Clooney.