The Fisherman’s Friends film spawns a sequel
In 2019, the story of Cornwall’s most famous “buoy band”, the Fisherman’s Friends, was immortalised on film. Its uplifting story of everyman success drew such keen interest that its producers decided a sequel was in order. As a result, Fisherman’s Friends: One and All – whose subtitle echoes the Cornish motto – sails into cinemas across the UK and Ireland from Friday, August 19.
The original hit movie was inspired by the story of the wildly popular shanty singers, who rose to fame performing on the harbour in their native Port Isaac. Executive producer Meg Leonard admits a sequel wasn’t part of the original plan but grew out of the film’s rapturous reception. “We were thrilled by how engaged audiences were with the storyline and the characters,” she says. “The pitch was simple: 10 singing fishermen get a major record deal and chart in the top 10. The next one was the challenge of their success.”
Part two catches up with them a year later, following the soaraway success of their debut album No Hopers, Jokers and Rogues. Struggling to navigate the pressures, pitfalls and temptations of their newfound fame, band members find lifelong friendships are put to the test as they battle the dreaded “curse of the second album”. Will they iron out these issues in time to perform on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, on the same bill as Beyonce?
Returning cast members include Maggie Steed, Dave Johns, Sam Swainsbury, Jade Anouka, David Hayman and James Purefoy, whose character Jim is at the forefront of the action. As well as getting to grips with his public profile, Jim is grieving the loss of fellow band Jago in the first film.
“We wanted to go to deeper places,” says Meg. “Jim is an alpha male, and has to admit that it’s OK to be not OK. James spent a lot of time on this in the script process, beyond the role of an actor, and we honoured that by crediting him as executive producer.”
New faces including Richard Harrington, Ramon Tikaram, Joshua McGuire and Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May in her debut acting role as a washed-up rock star hiding out in rural Cornwall: in Meg’s words, “an emotionally complex female lead” and a foil for Jim.
The action moves beyond Port Isaac, with a performance at the Minack and plenty of shots of wild coastal scenery and abandoned engine houses.
The stage musical based on the film returns to the Hall For Cornwall, Truro from April 11 to 22, 2023. Since the world premiere launched the refurbished auditorium in October 2021, the show has been refreshed to reflect the content of both films, and will tour nationally before crossing the Atlantic to Canada.
Lest we forget that it’s all based on a true story, the film ends with footage of the actual Fisherman’s Friends making their way to Glasto in 2011, and preparing to go on stage. “It’s so moving,” says Meg, who was in the audience for that very performance. “It’s amazing to watch it now.
“Shanties are in our DNA. Shanties are cool. “I think people want a sense of community tradition, honesty and simplicity, now more than ever.”
Fisherman’s Friends: One and All (12A) plays in cinemas from Friday, August 19.