Dek and Shirley live together with Marlene, Shirley's daughter from a previous relationship with the sexy delinquent Jimmy who walked out on them years ago and hasn't been heard from since.
Decent-but-dull Dek loves Shirley so much that he humiliates her by proposing without warning on national television. Jimmy witnesses Dek's TV proposal and he returns to town, convinced that his nerdy rival doesn't stand a chance against a renewed romantic assault from the great love of her life. The race is on for Shirley's affections.
For his third feature film, acclaimed director Shane Meadows has gathered together a who's-who of British comedy talent to tell a quirky, heart-warming tale of big emotions in a small town.
Dek - Rhys Ifans
Shirley - Shirley Henderson
Jimmy - Robert Carlisle
Marlene - Finn Atkins
Carol - Kathy Burke
Charlie - Ricky Tomlinson
Donna - Kelly Thresher
Donut - Andrew Shim
Vanessa - Vannessa Feltz
After A Room For Romeo Brass, Shane's next major project was the Shane's World collection of shorts for Channel4. One of the short films in the collection is a film about a boxer called Three Tears for Jimmy Prophet. It was this short film that became the original inspiration for Once Upon a Time in the Midlands.
Originally the main focus of the film was to be about a boxer returning to society after a spell in prison, and the project as a whole had a provisional title of Standing Eight Count.
Shane's love of Spaghetti Westerns was always intended to be incorporated into the story of the film, and eventually became a very prominent part of the films style.
The film had the biggest budget of all of Shane's films to date, and to compliment this, Shane wanted to work with actors that he had respected over the years. After previously only working with mostly unknown actors and smaller budgets, the big budget and the famous faces in the film were both challenges that Shane wanted to take on.
This is the only film on which Shane had to share final cut of the film. This is the main reason that Shane believes the film didn't turn out as well as he had hoped.
Shane Meadows appears as a bingo caller, and co-writer, Paul Fraser also appears as a member of staff in the same bingo hall.
Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer appear as two of the clowns in the punch-up near the beginning of the film.
The film was originally to feature a musical score written by Gavin Clark and members of Clayhill. Despite a number of tracks being written, Shane decided to go with a different score in the end, something which he later came to regret.