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From Billy Elliot and Brassed Off to Calendar Girls, we love a comedy about brave and slightly eccentric Britons. No wonder the utterly charming Fisherman’s Friends, set in Cornwall’s beautiful Port Isaac, was gold at the box office when it was released in 2019.
And now we’re in for a second helping, which will no doubt lead to a stampede to the southwest as the chaos on the ferry and airport continues.
Based on the true story of a group of Cornish fishermen (the film focuses on Jago, Jim, Leadville and Rowan, fictionalized versions of the group’s real members), whose lustful recitals of old sea shanties landed them a £1 record deal in 2010. million, making them the world’s oldest “fascia band”, drawing the warmth, humor and poignancy to the heart.
And the sequel, Fisherman’s Friends: One And All, is just as touching as they try to deal with fame and that “difficult second album” syndrome. Especially because they are in mourning and feel more at ease deep inside at sea than in a room full of people.
Fisherman’s Friends returns to theaters with a second film, One And All. It is based on a true story of a group of Cornish fishermen who won a £1 million record deal
It’s a few months after the last movie ended and the band are on the crest of a wave, but are struggling to cope (a scene where they are forced into media training is very funny). They also mourn Jago, who died at the end of the first film, and his son Jim (again played by James Purefoy) is at his nadir.
He drinks and argues with his colleagues and because of his behavior the band is dropped by their record label. To get the chance to release their second album, dedicated to Jago, Jim’s indomitable mother Maggie (Ten Percent actress Maggie Steed) hatches a plan to play at Glastonbury.
Meanwhile, Jim finds unlikely solace with a former tomboy who has come to live alone in Cornwall.
We wrote the script during the lockdown and all of a sudden we all had this shared experience of being isolated and people struggling,” said Meg Leonard, writer, producer and director of the film. “It felt like this mental health storyline was relevant to this moment, and because James is so talented, the film is going to places people don’t normally go.”
James Purefoy and his co-stars sing together at the Minack Theater in Cornwall. The film was shot in some beautiful locations in Cornwall
The deepening in grief and sanity is based in part on the story of the real band. In 2013, singer Trevor Grills and promoter Paul McMullen were killed in a freak accident when a heavy door collapsed on them before a concert.
The band did not perform together for a year after the tragedy.
“This band has been through quite a bit of grief,” says Maggie Steed, who got to know the band and their FWAGS (Fishermen’s Wives And Girlfriends) while working on both films. “There was a terrible accident, and for a long time they stopped singing, touring, everything.
‘The film had already been suggested at the time, but they also put that on hold. This is a very close-knit community.
They all worked together and were in each other’s lives, so it’s a hugely important part of the Fisherman’s Friends story. You have a group of men who need each other, but men often don’t talk about it.
This band has been through quite a bit of grief. They need each other. We explore that feeling of being lost. – Maggie Steed
“It explores that feeling of being lost and not knowing how to deal with it.”
Help for Jim comes from singer Aubrey Flynn, who is played by real-life Irish rock star and poet Imelda May in her first acting role.
“It was hard to kiss James Purefoy, but someone had to do it,” laughs Imelda.
‘I was very happy to have that part of my day job – who wouldn’t be? I just hope there’s a Fisherman’s Friends Three!’
Filming again took place in and around Port Isaac, the real home of the original Fisherman’s Friends, and in the evening the cast would join the real group on the dock to sing. “I can’t tell you what a beautiful experience making this film was,” says Imelda.
‘One minute you’re singing with the real group on the quay or in the pub, and the next we’re filming one of their songs on a beautiful cliff. It was like being in a very happy bubble.”
Imelda even sang with the group at Glastonbury this year when they discovered they were both on the program.
As for more movies, Imelda may have her wish, as ideas are already being floated for a third, perhaps bringing the group to Australia. Meanwhile, Fisherman’s Friends – The Musical, based on the films, is touring the UK starting in Plymouth in September, with plans for a transfer to the West End.
For Meg, who first presented the idea for a film about this group of unruly singers from Cornwall more than a decade ago, after seeing them on television just hours after giving birth to her son, this is a story that would can run and run.
“When the first movie came out, we got such sweet reactions from people all over the world,” she says.
‘These are not niche films, even if they are about a specific group of singing Cornish fishermen. We make real life movies that hopefully make people laugh and cry and feel something.”
- Fisherman’s Friends: One And All hits theaters on August 19