Date: 2009
Director: Debbie Isitt
Production Company: Mirrorball Films, BBC Films, Screen West Midlands

Stars: Martin Freeman, Ashley Jensen, Jason Watkins, Marc Wootton, Alan Carr, Pam Ferris, Ricky Tomlinson
Location(s): California (USA), Warwickshire, West Midlands

Region(s): ,


A primary school competes against a posh rival school for the honor of the best reviewed nativity play in town.

Additional Information:

Screen captures by Phil Wilkinson

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Inside the Midlands Academy of Dramatic Art, the "Three Amigo's" of Paul Maddens, Jennifer Lore and Gordon Shakespeare perform in a Christmas Revue. The Albany Theatre facing Butts Road in Coventry, West Midlands. The theatre closed in 2009 but re-opened four years later after the local council intervened.

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The former Technical College is now styled as Earlsdon Park and contains a hotel, a car park and the Albany Theatre. (PW)

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Paul Maddens (Martin Freeman) and his girlfriend Jennifer Lore (Ashley Jensen) visit her parents over the festive period.

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Fire years on, after Gordon lands a position at the best school in the city and Jennifer leaves when she gets a job in Hollywood, Paul hates Christmas. Spon Street in Coventry city centre.

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A clearer view of the same section of street. (PW)

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St. Bernadette's School in Coventry where Paul always has a difficult time keeping his class under control. In reality, Holy Family Catholic Primary School on Penny Park Lane, Coventry.

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Paul arrives for another fraught day to discover that he's been put in charge of the school's nativity play. A suitably dressed Holy Family Catholic Primary School.

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Without the prop sign. (PW)

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Gordon Shakespeare (Jason Watkins) leads his well behaved pupils into Oakmore School before encouraging them to win another 5-star review for their nativity. Bablake School on Coundon Road, Coventry.

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With acknowledgement to Kiley and the staff at Bablake School for their hospitality and assistance. (PW)

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During break, Mr. Maddens' new classroom assistant Desmond Poppy (Marc Wootton) appears in the playground. The playground of Holy Family Catholic Primary School.

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With thanks to Head Teacher Mrs. Griffiths and the staff at Holy Family School for their help and for granting access. (PW)

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With another tiresome day over, Mr. Maddens walks home along a brightly decorated street. Lower Ladyes Hill, Kenilworth in Warwickshire.

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Not an exact comparison due to the street being full of parked cars. (PW)

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Paul arrives at the only unlit house in the row and begins to work on the nativity play. Lower Ladyes Hill in Kenilworth.

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Here's a suitably decorated property. (PW)

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The disruptive and childlike Mr. Poppy accompanies Mr. Maddens to buy a Christmas tree and overhears him lie to Mr. Shakespeare that a Jennifer, now a Hollywood producer, is coming to see St, Bernadette's school nativity.

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After Mr. Poppy spreads the rumour about a Hollywood producer coming to St. Bernadette's, a BBC Reporter (Ashley Blake) arrives at the school.

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The same corner taken on a very drizzly day. (PW)

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Television, radio and newspapers carry the exciting word throughout the city. Looking over Coventry city centre with the ruined Cathedral to the right of centre, the replacement St. Michael’s Cathedral behind and the Council House and offices towards the bottom.

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Having missed hearing the news that he has unintentionally created, Paul cycles to work.

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Mr. Maddens arrives at school where he is shocked to discover that he’s arranged for a Hollywood producer to visit. To the right is the entrance to Holy Family Catholic Primary School with properties on Penny Park Lane visible through the gateway.

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From a similar viewpoint. (PW)

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At Oakwood School, an enraged Gordon Shakespeare searches for something extra special for this year’s production. Bablake School on Coundon Road.

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Looking across the same playing field on a damp day. (PW)

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Paul arrives at Jennifer’s parents’ house in an attempt to contact her and arrange a visit from a Hollywood producer.

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Casting and rehearsals for St. Bernadette’s nativity play begin. Looking across the playing field at Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Keresley, Coventry.

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So that the class can learn more about the nativity, Mr. Poppy suggests a field trip to the maternity ward of a hospital. University Hospital on Clifford Bridge Road in Coventry.

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Mr. Maddens and headmistress Mrs Bevan attend a function where the Lord Mayor offers St. Bernadette’s use of the Cathedral as a venue for their show. Coombe Abbey Hotel on Brinklow Road in Binley, Coventry.

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Looking up at the spire of the Cathedral Church of St Michael on Priory Street, Coventry.

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The same spire. (PW)

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As the play starts to find form, Paul and Mr. Poppy sing one of the songs in the Cathedral ruins. The Grade I listed ruins of the first St. Michael's Cathedral which was bombed on the night of 14th November 1940.

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The nave of the Cathedral. (PW)

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Mr. Maddens arrives at the airport with William and Saffron for their flight to the USA. Birmingham Airport on Bickenhill Lane to the north of Bickenhill in Solihull, West Midlands. The airport was known as Birmingham International Airport at the time of filming with the name being changed in 2011.

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Flight 715 from Birmingham lands in the States. The LAX sign stands at the intersection of West Century Boulevard and World Way in Los Angeles, California.

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With Saffron (Rebecca Maguire) and William (Michael McAuley) faring better than their teacher on the eleven hour flight, a cab is taken to the hotel. Los Angeles International Airport on World Way, Los Angeles.

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Having settled in, the trio set off in search of Jennifer, and do some sightseeing on the way. Outside the Pacific Sands Motel on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, California.

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The beach at Santa Monica with Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park in the distance.

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The children call Mr. Maddens over to see the Hollywood sign and he comments that they’re nearer than they were at the beach.

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Saffron stops to look at the Beverly Hills sign in Beverly Gardens Park on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California.

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The three enter the studios of Independent Pictures where Jennifer works. The entrance to Prospect Studios on Prospect Avenue in Los Feliz in Los Angeles.

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Taking an electric cart, Paul, William and Saffron escape the pursuing Security Guard. ABC Televison’s Prospect Studios in Los Feliz.

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Having found Jennifer, Security are called to eject the intruders while they sing to Mr. Parker the Studio Boss. Santa Monica beach with Hotel Casa del Mar in the left background.

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Back in England a hopeful Mr. Poppy is told “No Joy”. The nave of Coventry Cathedral on Priory Street.

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Taken from a respectful distance. (PW)

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At St. Bernadette’s, Mrs. Bevan reprimands Mr. Maddens for taking two pupils to the USA and fires Mr. Poppy when she learns that no producers from Hollywood were ever coming to visit.

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With thanks to everyone at Holy Family School for helping to find the locations. (PW)

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Happier Christmases are recalled as Paul walks through the streets after Mrs. Bevan cancels the nativity. Bayley Lane in Coventry with the Cathedral ruins to left.

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In daylight. (PW)

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Mr. Maddens is impressed when he goes to see Oakwood School’s extravagant production of ‘Herod’.

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With thanks to everyone at Bablake School for allowing access. (PW)

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Finding Mr. Poppy, the two head into the city and remove the cancelled stickers from the posters advertising St. Bernadette’s nativity. The Cathedral Church of St. Michael on Priory Street.

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A rainy morning in Coventry. (PW)

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Along with newspaper critic Patrick Burns (Alan Carr), the audience begins to applaud as the show gets under way. The nave of St. Michael’s Cathedral in Coventry.

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Heavy clouds make this shot almost as dark as the night time screen capture. (PW)

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The Nativity is a great success and watched by Jennifer and Mr. Parker who arrive by helicopter. Coventry Cathedral in Coventry, West Midlands.

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Taken from the same position. (PW)

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Now reunited, Paul and Jennifer decorate the house for Christmas. Lower Ladyes Hill in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

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The same location without the dressing. (PW)