Laurel and Hardy: It's Still Comedy Genius

As the BBC announce they will screen a Laurel and Hardy biopic written by Jeff Pope, Martin Chilton pays tribute to a timeless comedy double act

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Frank Skinner once admitted that new girlfriends were always “subjected to the Laurel and Hardy test”, when he would play a video of the Laurel and Hardy dance sequence from Way Out West. “If she didn’t laugh, I instantly wrote her off as a future companion,” said Skinner, conceding that this wasn’t exactly rational behaviour.

Perhaps we can all be divided by that Laurel and Hardy test. Those who love the Way Out West dance (below), which captures perfectly the charm and on-screen chemistry of the comedy duo, will be delighted by the news that the BBC1 is to show in 2014 a one-off 90-minute drama called Stan and Ollie – written by Jeff Pope of Philomena note – which is based around their 1953 tour of the UK, during which Hardy suffered a heart attack. Casting has not been announced yet but it is an interesting idea to focus on a period when their best film days were behind them but their deep friendship remained.

You can still get their films on DVD (ardent fans will have the 21-disc box set) or even visit the rather touchingly drab Laurel and Hardy Museum in Stan’s Ulverston birthplace (although it’s possibly best not to go, as I once did, on your wedding anniversary) but anything that brings this magical pair back into the limelight is welcome.

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