Steven Spielberg was first approached to direct this movie. But he turned it down because he felt that the gross out humor was too over the top and didn't fit in the story and he was also too busy working on The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997).
After working with Jim Broadbent in Only Fools and Horses.... (1981), David Jason said in his autobiography he was amazed that after such humble beginnings, Broadbent's career took him to such amazing places like this film and then Hollywood, and why he didn't take him with him.
In 1964, Peter Sellers's Brookfield Productions bought the rights and had Jay Presson Allen do a script. Sellers would have starred but the project never went ahead. Sellers also tried to get the rights to " Oliver ".