Laurel and Hardy’s final live tour is to be the subject of a new BBC One biopic from Jeff Pope, the multi-award-winning writer of Philomena and Mrs Biggs.
Stan And Ollie is set in 1953 when the pair’s appeal was at an all-time low following a split from their controlling mentor and a series of film flops.
A tour of the UK was supposed to relieve some of the gloom and, despite numerous glitches, audiences grew and grew as word spread that Laurel and Hardy were back and as funny as eve.
But disaster struck the tour as Ollie suffered a heart attack and became too ill to perform.
Eventually, with it clear that Hardy’s health problems were serious, Stan was offered the chance to perform alone, but refused. He realised that neither worked without the other, that they were so much more together than they were apart.
Appreciating the sacrifice made by his friend, Ollie roused himself from his sickbed for a few last, triumphant performances, the very last of their extraordinary career.
Ollie died not long afterwards and Stan never performed again, but their films endure and are still popular all over the world half a century later.
Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One, says: “Stan And Ollie demonstrates the fabulous range of comedy on BBC One. Written by Jeff Pope, this is a poignant single film about one of Britain’s best loved double-acts.”
Shane Allen, Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning, says: “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.”
The 90 minute drama is being co-produced with The Weinstein Company and will air on BBC One next year.