19 MARCH 2009

They're exemplars of louche bad boys for their respective generations, so Rhys Ifans and Bill Nighy make perfect sense as the leads for a new movie about the birth of pirate radio in the Sixties.

The Boat That Rocked, which goes on general release in the UK on April 1, stars the Welshman, who once fronted a psychedelic rock band, playing a DJ. Bill, 59, portrays his boss.

They spin turntables during the era when Radio Caroline blasted Stones and Beatles tracks from a ship anchored in the North Sea because the powers that be wouldn't give the station a license.

If the film - which has Kenneth Branagh in the role of the minister attempting to stop their fun - is just an excuse for a rocking soundtrack the actors aren't fussed. After all, Bill specialises in portraying dissolute musicians, having done so twice - most notably in Love, Actually.

Then actor further burnished his credentials for the role when he admitted in a recent interview that he preferred the Rolling Stones to Shakespeare. Asked why, the thesp said: "It's like Sir Keith Richards would say about Mozart: the trouble with Mozart is he hasn't got a drummer. I would say much the same thing about Shakespeare".

The Boat That Rocked, which stars former Super Furry Animals frontman Rhys, recreates the days of Radio Caroline's broadcasts from a vessel moored in the North Sea
His boss, played by a velvet jacket-wearing, cigarette holder-waving Bill Nighy, defies the authorities by bringing music to the pop-starved masses