EXCLUSIVE: In-demand UK actress to star in belly dancing comedy set to shoot in June; producers are Marc Samuelson and Nick Jones; Bankside sells.

Sheridan Smith is to star in Nativity writer-director Debbie Isitt’s new comedy, Belly Dancing for Beginners.

For full production details

Sales outfit Bankside will introduce buyers to the comedy feature about a woman who goes on holiday with her mother and sister to mend a recent heartbreak. On arrival, she is horrified to discover she’s been booked into a bellydancing course - and that her painfully-recent ex-fiancé has also turned up.

The film marks Marc Samuelson’s first producer credit since he departed CinemaNX. Nick Jones also produces with Joe Abrams, Phil Hunt, Hilary Davis and Stephen Kelliher serving as executive producers. The original screenplay comes from Rachel Cuperman and Sally Griffiths.

Smith has starred in UK stage version of Legally Blonde, hit TV show Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and recently in features Quartet and Tower Block. This summer she will play opposite David Walliams in Michael Grandage’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream update.

Principal photography is set to begin in June 2013 with an eight week shoot on location in Turkey. UK rights are under negotiation.

Isitt’s Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! recently grossed £9.1 million at the UK box office.

Bankside head of sales and marketing Stephen Kelliher told Screen: “We are thrilled to be involved with Debbie’s next feature project.

“The phenomenal success of Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! at the UK box office proves that Debbie has a real talent for reaching mainstream audiences with her original yet heart-warming comic stories.

Bellydancing for Beginners has true international appeal and the success that Debbie has enjoyed in the UK will most certainly be replicated in international territories.”

Producer Marc Samuelson added: “Bellydancing for Beginners is a fantastically funny and uplifting film, celebrating all that is great about women and their friendships.

“Debbie is the perfect filmmaker for this material - she has a huge, loyal fan-base and pairing her with the wonderfully talented Sheridan Smith is a match made in movie heaven.

“I couldn’t be happier that this film will be the first to be made following the re-launch of Samuelson Productions.”