BBC Films is kicking up a song and dance about a number of new projects in development.

The division has signed Richard Loncraine to direct Quartet. Ronald Harwood wrote the script about an old people’s home full of retired opera singers who get the opportunity to mount a production. It is thrown into dissary when a new inmate arrives. Stewart Mackinnon will produce alongside Finola Dwyer (An Education). Albert Finney, Tom Courtaney and Maggie Smith are all in negotiations for roles in the film. 

The outfit is also developing a film with choreographer Matthew Bourne. Christine Langan, creative director at BBC Films said: “It’s early days but he is going to create something combining dance but not a filmed ballet, something specifically for the screen. A lot of people are looking to work with Matthew, he is so creative fresh and exciting.”

BBC Films has acquired the rights to Testament of Youth and is now seeking to attach a writer.  Langan said, “It’s such a seminal piece, we’re working very closely with Mark Bostridge who is a fine biographer. This is a book I read at 13 years of age, and I was just slayed by it. It’s one of the best memoirs of the First World War.”

The executives are currently considering directors for new project Salmon Fishing In The Yemen. Simon Beaufoy has adapted the script, which is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Paul Torday. Paul Webster and Stephen Garrett of Kudos are producing.

The division is also investing in a number of first time directors, who include Andy De Emmony, Rufus Norris and Peter Morgan.

  • Andy De Emmony is directing West is West which will go into production in autumn. Leslee Udwin is producing. It revisits the Khan family from East is East. Langan said “It’s about coming to terms with the decisions of your life and the mistakes you’ve made, it’s about what it is to be mixed race and to not really belong.” Some of the original cast have been brought back including Jimi Mistry who plays Tariq Khan.
  • Rufus Norris is to direct Mark O Rowe’s screen adaptation of Daniel Clay’s debut novel, Broken. The story is narrated by Skunk, an eleven-year-old girl in a coma and explores innocence and its betrayal.
  • Peter Morgan, who wrote The Deal and The Queen, will be making his directorial debut this summer with The Special Relationship. The story picks up the last strand of his Blair trilogy and focuses on Tony Blair’s relationship with Bill Clinton. Michael Sheen reprises his role as Tony Blair, Helen McCrory plays Cherie Blair, while Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid play the Clintons. 
  • BBC executives are currently in the last stages of putting finance together for We Need To Talk About Kevin, based on the book by Lionel Shriver. An autumn shoot is planned. Lynne Ramsay is directing and Jennifer Fox is producing. Tilda Swinton will star as the mother of a teenage boy who is guilty of a high-school killing spree. 
  • Nigel Cole is prepped for a June or July start date on We Want Sex starring Sally Hawkins, Andrea Riseborough and Rosamund Pike are all confirmed to star. Meanwhile Justin Chadwicke is working in Africa for First Grader and a new draft is currently being worked on.
  • It has also signed up to co-produce Brighton Rock, the adaptation of Graham Greene’s classic novel, which stars Sam Riley and Carey Mulligan.
  • Following the success of In the Loop, the division is also looking to develop a new project with the comedy group Mighty Boosh, and is talking to Arnando Iannucci about other projects.