Move over Hugh Grant – Judi Dench and Dustin Hoffman play Richard Curtis’s best couple

The Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill scriptwriter says the characters played by Dench and Hoffman in new BBC1 drama Esio Trot are most likely to stay the course

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Richard Curtis has named the couple from all his films most likely to stay together – and the names upon his lips were not those fans will expect.

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The writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill said that his most “finished” couple are in fact the elderly lovers Mr Hoppy and Mrs Silver played by Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench in BBC1’s forthcoming Christmas drama Esio Trot.

“I think of all the films that I have written with the word ‘love’ in them, this is the finished couple – the couple most likely to stay together,” said Curtis at a London screening of the film today.

So that means he has doubts about Charles and Carrie, the will-they-won’t-they couple played by Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral; and Will Thacker and Anna Scott, the lovers played by Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in Notting Hill.

Esio Trot is based on Roald Dahl’s much loved children’s book of the same name and sees Hoffman play lovelorn Mr Hoppy who lives in a flat above Mrs Silver (Dench) whom he tries to woo by helping her care for a tortoise.

In a faithful adaptation of the book, Mrs Silver is worried her pet hasn’t put on any weight and Mr Hoppy decides to buy a host of tortoises and replace them each week with fatter and fatter models without her noticing. Inevitably, the course of true love never did run smooth.

“I have been writing all these films about people who are in a position where…if it doesn’t work out with Julia Roberts then you can go round the corner and Kate Hudson would be there,” added Curtis.

“But I think…if you are lonely when you are older it makes the stakes higher and the rewards more extraordinary. I think that when you write about people who are older and they have presumed they wouldn’t ever [meet someone], rather than be hopeful and presume that they will, [that] makes it more dramatic.”

The 90-minute TV film has been written by Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, co-writer of The Vicar of Dibley and Radio 4’s Old Harry’s Game, and is likely to air on Christmas Day, although this has not been confirmed.

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The director Dearbhla Walsh won an Emmy for her work on Little Dorrit.