Another fine mess for Steve Coogan?

Stan & Ollie are getting a new lease of life on the big screen.

Steve Coogan will swap Alan Partridge for Stan Laurel
Geniuses of comedy Steve Coogan will swap Alan Partridge for Stan Laurel. Image Picture Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Steve Coogan is trading in Alan Partridge for another comedy legend.

The Brit actor will play Stan Laurel opposite John C Reilly as Oliver Hardy in a new biopic based around the iconic film duo.

Titled simply Stan & Ollie, the BBC Films production will centre around the duo’s final UK tour in 1953. As the tour progresses, the pair re-connect with fans and reminisce about their run as the kings of Hollywood comedy.

Stan & Ollie has some impressive behind-the-camera talent in the form of Coogan’s Oscar-nominated Philomena co-writer Jeff Pope.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
Me And My Friend Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made more than 100 films together. Image Picture by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

“Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are my heroes,” said Pope. “When I watch their movies, in my head it is forever a Saturday morning and I’m six years old watching the TV at home utterly spellbound.

“I’m aware of the huge responsibility of bringing their characters to life, but I haven’t treated the boys with kid gloves or looked at them through rose-coloured specs. They are living and breathing characters, with flaws and shortcomings.”

Pope, who also wrote the hit TV shows Cilla and – with Danny Baker – Cradle To Grave, added: “The research into this story threw up so many details and facts that I had no idea about. But everything I have done has come from a place of love. More than anything else, I hope this shines through.”

Director Jon S Baird, who also helmed Filth and Sky Atlantic’s upcoming music biz drama Vinyl, added: “Like so many others, I grew up watching Laurel & Hardy and I’m therefore honoured to help bring this incredible true story of love, laughter and friendship to the big screen.”

The slapstick duo made more than 100 films together before Laurel’s failing health forced the duo to part ways in 1955. Their hot streak came in the 1930s when they starred in The Music Box, Sons of the Desert, Way Out West and The Flying Deuces.

The pair were handed an honorary Oscar in 1961 for their “creative pioneering in the field of cinema comedy”.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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