Love is All Around for Richard Curtis - his best-loved films and TV shows
PUBLISHED: 10:27 25 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:35 25 May 2019
It’s 25 years since Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Vicar of Dibley both burst on to our screens. Next month, another Richard Curtis film is about to be released, Yesterday, which was filmed in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Here is a look at 10 of Curtis's most memorable and best-loved film and TV productions to date, in chronological order.
It was something of a slow starter, but by series two this historical series was gaining a huge following. Curtis wrote the first series, The Black Adder, together with Rowan Atkinson, and the rest with Ben Elton.
Unusually, each series was set in a different period - but all of them starred Atkinson as the sarcastic Edmund Blackadder and Tony Robinson as stupid sidekick Baldrick, with his ever-hopeful catchphrase, "I have a cunning plan." Recurring actors included Miranda Richardson, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry and Rik Mayall.
The best-loved series was the last one, Blackadder Goes Forth, set in the trenches of the First World War. Its opening sequence was recorded at Colchester Barracks. Since the series ended, there have been one or two specials, including a great take on A Christmas Carol and a mini-film shown at the Millennium Dome in 2000.
The Tall Guy (1989)
If you thought Four Weddings was the first romantic comedy movie written by Richard Curtis, think again. A few years earlier, this was his feature film debut, starring Jeff Goldblum, Emma Thompson and Rowan Atkinson. Goldblum's character seeks medical treatment for hay fever, and falls for nurse Emma Thompson. The film includes a spoof on Andrew Lloyd Webber, with a fictional musical based on The Elephant Man. While this has been overshadowed by Curtis's later films, it is well worth looking out.
Mr Bean (1990-95)
Richard Curtis might be best known for his clever dialogue, but he proved he could be funny even without it as co-creator of this largely dialogue-free series. Rowan Atkinson could hardly be more different from his Blackadder role, as someone even more hapless than Baldrick. The series became a huge hit around the world partly because it has little speech, helping to make its brilliant slapstick accessible. Curtis was also a writer on the first spin-off film, Bean, which isn't as funny as the series.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
What can you say about Four Weddings? Everything came together perfectly in this endlessly-repeated romantic comedy, directed by Mike Newell. The film became an instant classic, receiving a string of awards and nominations, turning Hugh Grant into a superstar and sending Wet Wet Wet's version of Love Is All Around to number one for 15 weeks.
Looking back at it now, there are endless one-liners to cherish (not just "Is it still raining? I hadn't noticed.") But millions of fans, especially in the UK wished that Charles would look twice at Fiona (Kristin Scott-Thomas) rather than Andie MacDowell
Richard Curtis returned to the characters 25 years on to script a touching mini-sequel, One Red Nose Day and a Wedding, which featured in this year's Comic Relief in March. A web mini-series based on the film is also set to premiere in the US in July, following four American friends in London - with Curtis as a consultant. Andie MacDowell is set to appear from the original cast. But will it really have the same magic? When the show was announced in 2017, arts editor Andrew Clarke said: "In the long history of bad ideas this has to be one of the worst. It's difficult to see how this venture could possibly be a success but we live in a world where it is easier to commission a follow-up to something that has all ready been successful rather than take a risk on a series which is original and untried."
The Vicar of Dibley (1994-2007)
The year 1994 really was an annus mirabilis for Curtis, with the launch of not only a smash hit film, but also this hugely popular series. Dawn French was perfectly cast as vicar Geraldine Granger, but the whole cast was great, including the much-missed Emma Chambers, who died last year, and who also starred in Curtis's Notting Hill.
The sitcom has often been performed on stage, including productions by a number of companies across our region, which underlines the great quality of the writing. When Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society performed the play in 2016, tickets sold out two weeks before opening night and they had to organise an extra showing.
Notting Hill (1999)
Although Hugh Grant starred in a whole series of romantic comedies, the ones he made with Richard Curtis are still his best-loved. This one has the same magic as Four Weddings, as Grant plays a shy bookshop owner who falls for film star Julia Roberts. Everyone will have their own favourite scenes, but William (Grant) deciding to say he is a writer from Horse and Hound has to be one of the best sequences.
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
Richard Curtis was a co-writer on this hugely successful adaptation of Helen Fielding's bestseller, and put his unmistakable stamp on the script. Renee Zellweger is great, and Hugh Grant clearly has a lot of fun here, playing a caddish character who is completely different from those in his previous Curtis films. The sequel, Bridget Jones and the Edge of Reason, just couldn't recapture the mood, though. Curtis wasn't involved with the third film in the series.
Love Actually (2003)
This film has become an annual Christmas must for millions of viewers. Richard Curtis's directorial debut could almost be seen as a collection of his greatest hits, as there are so many nods to his earlier films. There are countless highlights, from Rowan Atkinson wrapping up that illicit parcel to Hugh Grant's dance down the stairs. Then there's the music - including little Olivia Olson singing All I Want for Christmas is You, and Bill Nighy's gloriously awful Christmas is All Around, affectionately mocking the success of Love Is All Around.
Comic Relief in 2017 included a mini-sequel to the film to let us know what happened next, showing the way forward for this year's mini-sequel to Four Weddings.
The Boat That Rocked (2009)
East Anglia's legion of pirate radio fans have a special affection for this film, with a star-studded cast including Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson and Rhys Ifans, which recalls the glory days of stations like Radio Caroline, which once broadcast music from the North Sea. The LV18 Lightvessel, which was used in the film, is moored in Harwich and paid a special visit to Ipswich last summer. The film wasn't to everyone's taste, as it doesn't have the romantic element of Curtis's other comedies and some of the humour is louder and cruder than you might expect, but it certainly does rock.
About Time (2013)
Returning to romantic comedies after a break of several years, Curtis wrote a quirky, different story about a lawyer in his 20s, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) who discovers that time travel runs in his family. Also starring Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams, the film explores the relationship between fathers and sons. It was not such a big success as some of Curtis's other films, but is is still entertaining to watch, with some gorgeous countryside.
Number ones that stayed at the top
Wet Wet Wet first hit the number one spot with their cover version of The Troggs' classic Love Is All Around on May 25, 1994. But it actually wasn't the longest-running song in the top spot!
Here are the top nine long-running number ones, where even some diehard fans started to hope that something else would overtake them.
1. Bryan Adams - (Everything I Do) I Do It For You (1991) - 16 weeks.
2. Wet Wet Wet - Love Is All Around (1994) - 15 weeks.
3. Drake - One Dance - 15 weeks.
4. Ed Sheeran - Shape Of You (2017) - 14 weeks.
5. Slim Whitman - Rose Marie (1955) - 11 weeks.
6. Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You (1992-93) - 10 weeks.
7. David Whitfield - Cara Mia (1954)- 10 weeks.
8. Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - Umbrella (2007) - 10 weeks.
9. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (1975) - nine weeks - it also went back to number one for another five weeks in 1991, following Freddie Mercury's death.
Other songs which had nine weeks at number one include Wings - Mull Of Kintyre / Girls' School (1977), John Travolta & Olivia Newton John - You're The One That I Want (1978), Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Two Tribes (1984), Gnarls Barkley - Crazy (2006), Clean Bandit - Rockabye (2016) and Drake - God's Plan (2018)
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