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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 16 January, 2003, 17:41 GMT
BBC nets Bend It Like Beckham
Jess (Parminder Nagra) with Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers)
Bend It Like Beckham is set in Hounslow, London
The BBC has secured the rights to screen footballing comedy Bend It Like Beckham.

The story of a wannabe female footballer will have its terrestrial premiere on BBC One in 2004 along with the critically-acclaimed Spider, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Ralph Fiennes.

Bend It Like Beckham is one of the most successful homegrown films of recent years, taking £11.5m at the British box office.

The success of Billy Elliot this Christmas shows that this is just the kind of British film our audiences are looking for

Steve Jenkins
BBC
The film, which stars Parminder K Nagra, Keira Knightley and former All Saint Shazney Lewis, follows an Asian girl who idolises David Beckham and dreams of becoming a professional player.

Director Gurinder Chadhua - who also directed Bhaji on the Beach and What's Cooking? - aims to portray the clash between traditional values and modern life.

Steve Jenkins, Senior Editor (Films) at BBC Programme Acquisition said the deal was a great move for the BBC.

Cannes films

"From the opening kick to the final whistle, it's a great feel-good comedy which looks at contrasting cultural attitudes through a fanatical obsession with football," he said.

"The success of Billy Elliot this Christmas shows that this is just the kind of British film our audiences are looking for."

George Clooney
George Clooney in Welcome to Collinwood is also coming to the BBC

The screening of Billy Elliot helped the BBC beat ITV in the New Year's Day ratings, drawing an average of 12.2 million viewers and almost half of the viewing audience.

Securing Bend It Like Beckham is part of a multi-film deal by the BBC which includes David Cronenberg's Spider, in which Ralph Fiennes plays a former mental patient trying to piece together the events surrounding his mother's death.

The BBC also gets the rights to forthcoming releases Welcome To Collinwood, a comedy heist featuring George Clooney which, like Spider, premiered at last year's Cannes Film Festival, and the Tommy Lee Jones thriller The Hunted.

Zuygi Kamasa, Chief Operations Officer of Helkon SK Film Distribution, the co-producers of Bend It Like Beckham and Spider, said:

"We are delighted to have concluded this deal with the BBC, who are clearly committed to offering their viewers a diverse range of quality British and American films."

See also:

02 Jan 03 | Entertainment
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