BBC has ordered a biopic of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy produced by the BBC’s comedy arm and Harvey Weinstein’s US indie.
The broadcaster has commissioned Stan and Ollie from BBC’s in-house comedy division, in association with The Weinstein Company and Lookout Point.
Stan and Ollie is a 90-minute one-off biopic that will be written by Mrs Biggs screenwriter Jeff Pope. It will tell the story of the duo’s 1953 UK tour, which followed a split from their mentor, studio politics and a run of poorly received films.
After the tour and following an acrimonious divorce and alimony battles, Hardy became ill, suffered a heart attack and eventually died, while Laurel never performed again.
Stan and Ollie was ordered by Shane Allen, controller of comedy commissioning and former BBC1 controller Danny Cohen. It will be produced by BBC’s Saurabh Kakkar, Lookout Point’s Simon Vaughan and Harvey Weinstein.
It will be distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide.
“Stan and Ollie is Jeff’s love letter to two pioneers and enduring giants of screen comedy. It beautifully captures the deep emotional bond forged over a lifelong partnership as they reflect on their rollercoaster careers through the prism of this final UK farewell tour. An epic story about the world’s most famous comedy double-act to date told with great insight and heart,” said Allen.
The dramatisation is the latest move into TV production from the The Weinstein Company, following its 14-part Napoleonic war novel adaptation War and Peace, which was ordered by the BBC in October.
Harvey Weinstein’s firm is also developing Book of the Dead, a 10 x 60-minute detective drama set in ancient Egypt, which has been set up with British partners.
The company is best known as a film producer, responsible for The Butler and Mandela, but has been moving into TV this year.
It has secured orders for series including Ten Commandements for WGN America, an adaptation of Scream for MTV and Marco Polo for Netflix, as well as reality series including Rodeo Girls for A&E and Project Runway spinoff Under The Gunn.
The Weinstein Company recently acquired the US rights to BBC drama Peaky Blinders and Italian mob drama Gomorrah and is eyeing TV adaptations of its feature films Sin City, The Mist and Silver Linings Playbook.