Callum Scott Howells to star in upcoming Frankie Goes To Hollywood biopic

It’s A Sin star Callum Scott Howells is to star in an upcoming biopic about legendary 1980s band Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

The film will tell the story of the band and the creation of their 1983 single Relax – which is the title of the film.

It comes after the band, formed in Liverpool in 1980, reunited for a short performance at a 2023 Eurovision Song Contest party.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Lead singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Holly Johnson (left) leads the group on to a train bound for Liverpool at London’s Euston Station (PA Archive)

Relax is based on frontman Holly Johnson’s memoir A Bone In My Flute and will be helmed by Bernard Rose, the director behind the original song’s music video.

Howells will portray Johnson with further casting to be announced soon, according to co-producers Working Title and Independent Entertainment.

Originally composed of Johnson, Paul Rutherford, Mark O’Toole, Brian Nash and Peter Gill, the band split in 1987 after the number one album Welcome To The Pleasuredome in 1984 and their second record Liverpool reached number five in the UK charts in 1986.

Relax was banned by the BBC in 1984 while at number six in the charts and subsequently topped the UK Singles Chart for five consecutive weeks

It went on to enjoy prolonged chart success throughout that year, becoming the sixth best-selling UK single of all time.

Olivier Theatre Awards 2023 – London
Howells will play the band’s front man Holly Johnson in the film (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The group reformed with original members Rutherford, Gill and O’Toole in 2004 to perform at a concert at Wembley Arena which raised money for youth charity The Prince’s Trust.

Director Rose said the band had gone “from unemployed Liverpudlians to kings of pop on the back of their epic banned record Relax”.

“Their epic rise, bringing the then deeply underground S+M and LGBTQ club scene screaming into the limelight, is the energetic and moving story of underdogs that win one for the ages,” he said.

“I was very much a part of the hoopla, having directed the original ‘banned’ Relax video and I want to bring that innocent and daring world of 1984 back to life for a new audience.”

Since their break-up, the Grammy-nominated band has released compilation albums Frankie Say Greatest in 2009, Frankie Said: The Very Best Of Frankie Goes To Hollywood in 2012 and The Essential in 2022.