March 12th: Seen filming in Walkers Court, Soho, Anna Friel – who became famous as Beth Jordache in Channel 4’s Brookside soap and in Pushing Daisies – is playing Jean Raymond, Paul’s wife in a new comedy drama called King of Soho. Starring as Paul Raymond himself is Steve Coogan, the man behind Alan Partridge and Saxondale. Only a few weeks ago it was announced Friel would be teaming up with Coogan on the big screen.
Beside Soho Original Books – given a window makeover to disguise the setting as late 60’s – she’s been pictured in various newspapers this week sporting a period look including up-do, a navy skirt suit and fur-trimmed vintage coat while Coogan’s makeover for the role of Soho entrepreneur Raymond give him a distinct look of ‘Kray’ in a navy suit and grey overcoat.
The Film4 biopic charts the life and times of Raymond, who worked as a black market spiv before opening Britain’s first strip club in 1958; the Raymond Revuebar. He moved into publishing in 1964 with the launch of King, which ran for just two issues before being replaced by more adult magazines – including Men Only, Razzle and Mayfair – which helped build an estimated £650m business empire. He’d begun handing this over to his daughter Debbie when she died from a heroin overdose in 1992. In the film Debbie will be portrayed by Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later, Centurion) and Raymond’s long-term mistress Fiona Richmond is played by Tamsin Egerton (St Trinian’s, Chalet Girl).
Director Michael Winterbottom (Welcome to Sarajevo, Wonderland, 9 Songs) explained, “The King of Soho chronicles the colourful life and times of Paul Raymond, who began his career on stage as an end-of-the-pier mind-reader and ended his life the richest man in Britain. It’s the perfect role for Steve Coogan and it is great we have Anna Friel, Tamsin Egerton and Imogen Poots playing the three most important women in his life.”
King of Soho – written by Matt Greenhalgh (Nowhere Boy, Control) – is a perfect subject for the big screen thanks to Raymond’s turbulent personal life, Winterbottom believes, and the project sees Coogan and Winterbottom resume a successful partnership, having worked together on 24 Hour Party People, TV series The Trip and A Cock and Bull Story.
Paul Raymond died in 2008 at the age of 82, leaving an extensive property portfolio owned by his company, Soho Estates, to his two granddaughters, Fawn and India James. King of Soho is due for cinema release in 2013.