George’s tragic love story inspires film

George Formby and Pat Howson after announcing their engagement
George Formby and Pat Howson after announcing their engagement

The tragic story of iconic Wigan-born entertainer George Formby and the woman he loved at the end of his life is being turned into a film.

Andrew Atkinson’s book Formby’s Lost Love, about the singer and ukelele player’s engagement to Pat Howson and how their happiness was cut short by his death, has attracted interest from Preston Movie Makers.

The cinema enthusiasts are currently working on a film adaptation of the story of the couple’s engagement on Valentine’s Day 1961 and Formby’s fatal heart attack just a month later.

Andrew says he hopes fans of the comedian and musician’s work from across the region will come forward to help make the film a reality and said the borough where Formby was raised may also feature.

He said: “Preston Movie Makers are very interested in making a film from the book Formby’s Lost Love that tells the tearful and sad story of Pat Howson.

“I am delighted there’s interest being shown by a local company to do a film about George Formby. In 2017 he’s still fondly remembered as a likeable, down-to-earth Lancashire lad.

“I am hoping that businesses will come forward to allow filming and also help on a financial basis, because obviously the bigger the budget the better the production will be.

“Hopefully the production crew will also be going down to Wigan to do a few shots there.”

The planned film comes after Formby’s Lost Love was acknowledged last year by The Queen, who is a big fan of the star responsible for hits including When I’m Cleaning Windows, My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock and Leaning On A Lamppost.

Final decisions about the cast, the script and the locations for shooting are still being finalised but it is hoped filming will begin as soon as possible after the decisions are made.

The book, published in 2015, tells the tragic tale of Preston RE teacher Pat, who herself died of ovarian cancer aged just 46 in 1971.

Formby became a friend of the Howson family through Pat’s father Fred who was the general manager of Loxhams in Preston where he purchased Rolls Royce and Bentley cars during his heyday in the 1930s and ‘40s.

The couple got engaged and were making plans to tie the knot and move to a Georgian mansion in the Lea area of Preston when Formby suffered a heart attack while dining with Pat at her Penwortham home.

He was rushed to St Joseph’s Hospital but suffered a second heart attack while recuperating and died, aged 56.

Pat experienced further heartache after his death as the Formby family contested the fact he had left her the majority of his £130,000 estate, which would be worth around £2.2m today, in his will.

Plans for him to be buried in Preston were stopped by Formby’s mother Eliza, who took his body to Aigburth where his funeral took place and then arranged for Warrington Cemetery to be his final resting place.

Anyone interested in getting involved in the film Formby’s Lost Love can ring Andrew on 07702 340744 or email