Lady in the Van, The

Date: 2015
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Production Company: BBC Films, TriStar Productions

Stars: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Frances de la Tour, Roger Allam
Location(s): Kent, London, West Yorkshire

Region(s): , ,


The mainly true story of Miss Shepherd, an eccentric woman of uncertain origins who ‘temporarily’ parked her broken-down van in writer Alan Bennett’s London driveway, and proceeded to live there for the next fifteen years.

Additional Information:

Screen captures by Phil Wilkinson

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Along country lanes, a police car pursues a Bedford van after a fatal collision.

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Having been given the slip, Constable Underwood (Jim Broadbent) gets out of the car and watches the van disappear.

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Ten years later, in 1970, an Estate Agent (Jamie Parker) leads Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) towards a prospective home. Inverness Street in London NW1.

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The same stretch of road by SJ.

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The two approach the vacant property. Inverness Street in Camden Town.

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Simon pans to follow the scene.

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The Estate Agent extols just one of the virtues of what is to become Alan Bennett's new abode. Seen from the corner of Inverness Street, this is Gloucester Crescent NW1.

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Changes noticeable over four years. SJ

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Through the windscreen of her stalled Bedford van, Miss Shepherd spots some likely assistance. The entrance to Carmelite Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity at the corner of St. Charles Place and Exmoor Street in London W10.

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Approaching the stranger, Mary Shepherd (Maggie Smith) asks if he's St. John before being told that his name is Bennett. The corner of St. Charles Place and Exmoor Street, Notting Hill.

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Enlisting the writer's help, the old woman leads him towards the 'conked out' vehicle. Looking southward along Exmoor Street with Balfour House across the road.

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With Mary at the wheel, Alan begins to push the mobile home. Exmoor Street in Notting Hill W10.

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The brakes are applied on Gloucester Crescent when a police car approaches. Gloucester Crescent in Camden Town.

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Simon knows the crescent well, he lived at number 31 in the early 80s.

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On the High Street, Alan finds Mary sitting on the pavement distributing leaflets and selling pencils.

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A Passer-by (Giles Cooper) is abusive to Mary who retorts that she's self-employed.

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To the consternation of Rufus (Roger Allam) and Pauline (Deborah Findlay), Mary moves her van from outside number 66 and sets up home at the end of their driveway. Gloucester Crescent NW1.

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This is number 61, opposite the author's house. SJ.

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Speaking with his Mum on the phone, Alan tells her that he has a meeting with the BBC. Goit Side, Luddenden Foot in Booth near Halifax, West Yorkshire.

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Mum (Gwen Taylor) is disappointed that her son isn't coming to see her for a couple of weeks. Goit Side in Luddenden Foot.

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Mary tells Alan that she might be going to Broadstairs as he helps with her shopping.

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Walking through the market, the two head back to the road where they both live. Looking from Inverness Street into Gloucester Crescent in Camden Town.

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From a similar position. SJ.

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Getting off an East Kent bus, Mary arrives in Broadstairs. The Promenade above Viking Bay, Broadstairs in Kent.

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Noticing that she's wearing a nightdress, a Policeman (George Taylor) questions Mary about her attire. Sea Approach in Broadstairs, facing the corner of Victoria Parade.

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Mary turns on the Officer when he asks what she's doing in Broadstairs. Looking along High Street from the corner of Sea Approach and Albion Street in Broadstairs, Kent.

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Away from the town centre, the old woman walks up a hill to visit a relative.

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Miss Shepherd reaches her brother Leo's bungalow.

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Alan speaks with Lady Wiggin (Selina Cadell) who has purchased a new van for Mary after a removal order is placed on the broken down Bedford.

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Outside number 12. SJ

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After the Bedford is towed away by the council, Mary drives her new Commer onto Alan's drive.

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The undressed location. SJ

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Alan visits his Mum who has moved into a residential home in the story’s Weston super Mare. The gateway to Buckmaster House on Western Esplanade in Broadstairs, Kent.

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Getting out of the cab, Alan enters the building. Buckmaster House Residential Home in Broadstairs.

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Mother and son sit in silence. Looking out over the sea above Westcliff Promenade from Western Esplanade.

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The camera circles Alan and his Mum. Western Esplanade, Broadstairs.

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Mrs. Bennett is wheeled back into the home. Buckmaster House in Broadstairs on the Isle of Thanet in Kent.

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After driving her recently acquired Reliant Robin van on another visit to the coast, Mary walks along Harbour Street in Broadstairs.

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An opportunity for tea and cake is spotted. Outside the Palace Cinema on Harbour Street.

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On the return journey, Mary stops to pray at the junction where years earlier a Motorcyclist ran into her stationary Bedford van with disastrous results.

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The Reliant returns to it's spot outside Alan's house but there's no sign of Mary. Gloucester Crescent at the corner of Inverness Street NW1.

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The same corner. SJ.

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That evening Alan cycles off to perform his latest work. Gloucester Crescent in Camden Town.

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Trying to get the best view with the prevailing traffic. SJ.

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The playwright recites his monologues at the Royal National Theatre on Upper Ground SE1.

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Social Worker Miss Briscoe (Cecilia Noble) calls Alan to tell him that Mary needs to go to a day centre.

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The Priest (Dermot Crowley) watches with Leo Fairchild (David Calder), his wife Edith (Linda Broughton), Underwood, Alan and his neighbours as Mary's body is carried to the waiting hearse. St. Silas Church on St. Silas Place in Belsize Park NW5.

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At the cemetery, Alan stands over the grave of the former concert pianist, nun and Lady in the Van. Playing the part of Camden and Islington cemetery, this is Kensal Green Cemetery on Harrow Road W10.

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Alan and AB turn to see the return of Margaret Fairchild, Mary's real name. Kensal Green Cemetery features in many productions including ‘Steptoe and Son Ride Again’, ‘Theatre of Blood’, 'Look Back in Anger' and 'Afraid of the Dark'.

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Margaret introduces the author to the Biker that crashed headlong into her van. Kensal Green Cemetery features in many productions including ‘Steptoe and Son Ride Again’, ‘Theatre of Blood’, ‘Villain’ and ‘Look Back in Anger’.

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After Margaret's ascension into heaven,the van is taken away. Gloucester Terrace was also seen in ‘Trottie True’ made in 1948.

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From ground level by SJ.

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For the first time in fifteen years, Alan Bennett tidies up his drive. 23 Gloucester Crescent in Camden Town, London NW1.

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A last shot of the authors driveway. SJ.