Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, one of the great athletics rivalries of the 1980s, are coming to the big screen in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The film is being developed by the UK’s BBC Films and AL Films. Joanna Anderson and Vicky Licorish of AL Films, the producers behind BBC TV series Small Island, have signed up Los Angeles-based British writer William Davies (Flushed Away, Johnny English, Twins) to write the screenplay.

The British middle-distance runners were known for their differing personalities, which gave their races against one another in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics an edge.

Anderson said: “Will is a fantastic writer who is a keen sportsman. He has been fired up by this story which means so much to a UK audience, and it is the British Olympic story which also gripped the US.”

“You were either an Ovett person or a Coe person,” says Licorish, “and that’s what makes it such a great character piece.”