Speculation has long raged over the fate of the characters in Love Actually, Richard Curtis’s 2003 Christmas classic. Thirteen months ago, script editor (and Curtis’s wife) Emma Freud sated some fans with a scattering of answers: Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson remain married but aren’t as happy; Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln never get together; the little lad and that girl he saw off at the airport do.
But the day so many have been waiting for has finally come. On Wednesday, Curtis announced a belated sequel to the film – albeit with an abbreviated running time, and premiering on TV rather than at the cinema.
Red Nose Day Actually will be broadcast on BBC1 on Red Nose Day, 24 March in the UK, and on NBC to coincide with the US equivalent on 25 May. It promises to reunite many of the cast, including Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Keira Knightley, Andrew Lincoln, Colin Firth, Lucia Moniz, Liam Neeson, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Olivia Olson, Bill Nighy, Marcus Brigstocke and Rowan Atkinson.
Emma Thompson is not listed among their number. Alan Rickman, who played her unfaithful husband, died last January.
Curtis has previously made Red Nose Day spinoffs of TV projects such as Blackadder, The Vicar of Dibley and Mr Bean.
He said: “I would never have dreamt of writing a sequel to Love Actually, but I thought it might be fun to do 10 minutes to see what everyone is now up to. Who has aged best? I guess that’s the big question … or is it so obviously Liam?
“We’ve been delighted and grateful that so many of the cast are around and able to take part – and it’ll certainly be a nostalgic moment getting back together and recreating their characters 14 years later.”
A notoriously polarising film, Love Actually’s cultural currency has grown in the 14 years since it was released. The film has been repeatedly unpicked, spoofed and deconstructed; four foreign language films – in Japanese, Hindi, Polish and Dutch – have also been inspired by the movie.
The showdown between Hugh Grant’s upstanding UK prime minister and the boorish, lecherous US president – reportedly based on a Bill Clinton/George W Bush hybrid – has been a touchstone of political discourse ever since. Even this week, Canadian premier Justin Trudeau found himself compared to Grant, following his meeting with US President Donald Trump.
The original film made £194m worldwide and won a supporting actor Bafta for Bill Nighy. It marked Curtis’s debut as a director; he has since taken the reins on The Boat that Rocked (2009) and About Time (2013).
Curtis co-created Comic Relief and its biannual highlight, Red Nose Day, with Lenny Henry in the mid-1980s. On the last Red Nose Day in 2015, it was announced that over the 30-year history of Comic Relief, Red Nose Day and Sport Relief, more than £1bn had been raised.