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Why `Four Weddings . . .' was nearly `Toffs on Heat'

THEY called it Four Weddings and a Funeral and it became the most successful film ever made in this country, grossing $200m ( pounds 125m) around the world. But at the last minute, a new book reveals, the producers had a ``title crisis'' and nearly called it a lot of other things - including Toffs on Heat.

Richard Curtis, the writer of the film, recalls: ``A fax came through from America, saying there was a feeling that boys didn't like weddings and no one liked funerals. The title suggested a film that everyone in the world would want to miss.''

So the producers thought up some alternative titles - 52 of them, to be exact.

Some were dull - Taking the Plunge, The Wedding Season, Marriage Blues, Bachelor Blues. Some were naff - The Course of True Love, Inviting Companions, In Love in England.

Some played on the American view of Britain - Charles and Chums, Tailcoats and Confetti, Nuptials and Nightcaps. Some were clunking - The Serial Monogamist. Some were just terrible - Toffs on Heat.

Some weren't bad - Girls in Big White Dresses, The Bachelor - but all were rejected in favour of a shortlist of five: Going to the Chapel; The Last Bachelor; A Tale of Rings and Other Things; Four Weddings, a Funeral and a Cup of Tea; Four Weddings, Some Sex and a Funeral.

``When these didn't make the grade either,'' Curtis writes in an appendix to the screenplay, published by Corgi, ``we finally settled on a choice of two.'' One was The Best Man, a last-minute idea. ``We then remembered that The Best Man is the name of an old Henry Fonda movie.'' They were left with the title they had started with: Four Weddings and a Funeral.

The film opened in Britain six months ago today. It is now second only to Jurassic Park at the all-time British box office. All its spin-offs have turned to gold: the theme tune, ``Love is All Around'', was No 1 in the charts for 15 weeks. A slim volume of poems by W H Auden became a bestseller because one of them is recited in the film.

The title - unusual, informative and easy on the ear - surely had something to do with the film's success. Toffs on Heat might not have been the same.