EXCLUSIVE: Franco Nero, lyricist Tim Rice, designer Eve Stewart also attached to Roger Goldby project.

Joan Collins, Pauline Collins and Franco Nero are attached to star in UK road movie The Time of Their Lives, from The Waiting Room writer-director Roger Goldby.

Former Dynasty star Collins is set to play Helen, a former Hollywood siren determined to gatecrash her ex-husband’s funeral at a glamorous French hideaway. Helen escapes her London retirement home with the help of Priscilla (Pauline Collins), a repressed English housewife stuck in a bad marriage.

Nero, whose prolific career includes the starring role in 1966 Western Django, will play a famous French recluse who becomes part of an uneasy love triangle with the two women.

Sarah Sulick produces for Bright Pictures, the company she set up with Roger Goldby to make his debut feature The Waiting Room, which premiered at Edinburgh and sold to Lionsgate in the UK, IFC Films in the US, and eOne in Canada.

The production is aiming to shoot in summer 2014 and will raise at least part of its budget through an EIS structure.

Les Miserables and The King’s Speech designer Eve Stewart is on board to design the film, which is being cast by John and Ros Hubbard, while three-time Oscar winner Sir Tim Rice will executive produce and oversee the soundtrack.

Collins told ScreenDaily: “I was very excited by the script, which was sent to me about one month ago. There are very few roles today for women aged over 45, let alone over 65.

“The fact that it’s a buddy movie along the lines of Thelma and Louise, with a hint of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, really interested me.”

Asked why she thought audiences were responding so well to films aimed at an older demographic, the actress replied: “People are sick to death of watching shoot ‘em ups, blood and gore and explosions - those films for the 12-30 year-old market.

“It’s time producers realised that people also want to see stories about mature adults, not only teenagers.”

Collins most recently acted alongside Raffey Cassidy, Emily Watson and Anne-Marie Duff in family feature Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist, which shot in the UK earlier this year. She was also among the voice cast in animation Saving Santa.

The Golden Globe-winning actress returned to the small screen this summer in UK series Benidorm, and Collins confirmed to ScreenDaily that she has been asked to return for the next season in the popular ITV series.

Shirley Valentine star Pauline Collins most recently appeared in Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet while the prolific Franco Nero made a memorable cameo earlier this year in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.

Goldby, who most recently directed three episodes of BBC hit series Call the Midwife, said of his new film: “The Time of Their Lives is an uplifting, truthful comedy, a film about the transformative power of female friendship.

“It’s driven by two feisty female characters who despite their flaws and sometimes uncompromising behaviour, we will love. One of my favourite films, Thelma & Louise, has been a touchstone throughout.”

The Lion King and Aladdin lyricist Rice commented: “One of the aspects of this film that particularly appeals to me, as a former student at La Sorbonne in Paris, is the planned use of several wonderful French pop hits from the 60s, by artistes such as Johnny Hallyday, Sylvie Vartan, Jacques Dutronc and Francoise Hardy.”

Sulick added: “The Time of Their Lives draws on both the on-going popularity of buddy movies and the public’s growing appetite for poignant character-driven comedies led by an older cast. And Franco is a heartthrob who has the ability to make women of all ages swoon.”

Bright Pictures is currently in post-production on Honeytrap, Screen Star of Tomorrow Rebecca Johnson’s debut featuring Skins star Jessica Sula.