Karen Gillan is Mary Tudor in Fools from Outnumbered's Guy Jenkin

Friday 9th February 2024, 11:06am by Jay Richardson

Karen Gillan

Karen Gillan is to star as Mary Tudor in a historic comedy film from Outnumbered co-creator Guy Jenkin.

Fools will explore the friendship between the Queen and her court jester, Jane Foole, played by Patsy Ferran (How To Build A Girl), and co-stars Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent.

Shooting later this year and set in the 16th century in the aftermath of Henry VIII's death, Fools follows England's first queen, Mary I, as she takes the throne in a divided country on the brink of chaos.

While the ambitious Cardinal Pole (Broadbent) plots to secure control, he overlooks humble court jester Jane Foole. The pious and apparently humourless queen finds Jane's brilliant slapstick routines uproariously funny, and they strike up a genuine friendship, the comedy lightening Mary's mood in the darkest of times, and helping fend off Pole's murderous manipulation. But can Jane's comedy save a nation from civil war?

Jenkin, who created the semi-improvised BBC One family sitcom Outnumbered and Channel 4's topical newsroom satire Drop The Dead Donkey with his regular collaborator Andy Hamilton, with a stage revival of the latter, Drop The Dead Donkey: The Reawakening, currently touring England, has written and will direct the film.

"I am thrilled to be working with such a supremely talented core group of actors on Fools," said Jenkin, who, with Hamilton, also wrote and directed the 2014 comedy film What We Did On Our Holiday, starring David Tennant, Rosamund Pike, Ben Miller and Billy Connolly.

"Together, we will tell the untold story of the strange friendship between England's first Queen, and her female jester. Fools will turn the conventions of a historical film inside-out, and promises to be subversive, striking and very funny."

The film, which was announced at the Berlin Film Festival this week, is being produced by Ryan Bennett (Holly Slept Over) of PaperEpic Productions, who added: "With Fools, Guy has discovered a fascinating, hidden piece of history. This is a story where comedy actually saves lives. It's a defence of moderation, and a celebration of the power of laughter."

Image shows left to right: Naomie Harris, Joel Fry

Also announced in Berlin was the romantic comedy film Lola And Freddie, starring Naomie Harris, Joel Fry, Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) and Olivia Lee (Dirty Sexy Funny), billed as a British reimagining of Celeste And Jesse Forever.

Written and directed by Dean Craig (Death At A Funeral, The Olivia Lee Show), based on a script by former Bread star and Johnny English writer-director Peter Howitt, the film will shoot in London and follows a couple who were once inseparable and totally in love but now, in their 40s and having grown in different directions, are getting a divorce.

James Bond star Harris plays Lola, thriving in her career while Plebs and Our Flag Means Death alumnus Fry is Freddie, continuing to chase his dream of becoming a screenwriter. When Freddie is hired by a big studio and rekindles a relationship with an old flame, he matures and aligns more with what Lola desired in their marriage.

With Freddie's change in fortune, Lola starts to miss a life she thought she no longer wanted. With newly separate worlds colliding again, Lola and Freddie are forced to confront the uncomfortable truth that they might still be in love with each other. But a major development in Freddie's life means it may be too late to salvage their relationship.

The film is produced by Lee Nelson and David Tish of Envision Media Arts, whose credits include Celeste And Jesse Forever, the 2012 US romcom written by Parks And Recreation star Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (Toy Story 4, The Sopranos) and starring Jones and Andy Samberg of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Cuckoo fame.

"I absolutely loved Celeste And Jesse Forever, so when I read Peter Howitt's script for the UK-set reimagining I was delighted to see he'd managed to retain the comedic and soulful essence of the original and at the same time create something that feels utterly new and unique, and totally English," said Craig. "Naomie and Joel are the perfect Lola and Freddie, and it's a privilege to get to work with this phenomenally talented cast, and fantastic producers. I think we have the elements in place to make a very special film."

Share this page