Billy Connolly, the UK actor-comedian who rose to fame with an expletive-laden brand of humour, has signed to star as the Archangel Gabriel in Samuelson Productions' tentatively titled comedy Jimmy Spud.

Udayan Prasad, whose credits include My Son The Fanatic, is to direct the contemporary UK comedy, on which UK-based The Sales Co is handling worldwide distribution. The film, which starts shooting this month in London, Newcastle and the Isle Of Man, is adapted by Lee Hall from his hit radio play.

Connolly, who made his feature mark starring in Mrs Brown, plays the celestial mentor of a Newcastle schoolboy. Also in the cast are Iain Glen and Rosie Rowell as Jimmy's parents and David Bradley as his grandfather. The film is being made through National Lottery studio franchise The Film Consortium with Marc and Peter Samuelson producing.

The Samuelsons are also producing The Chrysalids, based on John Wyndham's novel, which is being backed by start-up production and distribution outfit Helkon International Pictures, a joint venture between Germany's Helkon Media and US sales company Quadra Entertainment.

Connolly's film credits include Water, The Big Man, Still Crazy and recently Barry Levinson's Everlasting Piece.