Dame Judi Dench and director Stephen Frears are teaming up for Victoria and Abdul. Working Title is producing in association with BBC Films. Focus Features will co-finance and distribute. The screenplay is by Lee Hall, who previously wrote Working Title’s Billy Elliot  and is based on Shrabani Basu’s book Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant.

Victoria and Abdul was developed by Beeban Kidron and Lee Hall at Cross Street Films with BBC Films, and is being produced by Ms. Kidron, Academy Award nominee Tracey Seaward (The Queen), and Working Title’s co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.

The film tells the true story of an unexpected friendship in the later years of Queen Victoria’s remarkable rule. When Abdul Karim, a young clerk, travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he is surprised to find favor with the Queen herself. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that her household and inner circle all attempt to destroy. As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity.

Dench will be playing Queen Victoria for a second time, having been Oscar-nominated for her previous portrayal in Mrs. Brown. She won her Academy Award for portraying Queen Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love.

Working Title has made five previous projects with Frears; and has made multiple films with Kidron, including Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.