Directors: Debbie Isitt
Running Time: 106mins
Consumer Advice: Contains no material likely to offend or harm
Having given up his career as a frustrated, under-achieving actor, Mr Maddens (Martin Freeman) has become a frustrated, under-achieving primary school teacher. Each Christmas, his school and that of his long-time adversary, Gordon Shakespeare (Jason Watkins) of the posh independent school up the road, compete for a 5-star review of their respective nativity plays. To no-one’s surprise, time after time, the privileged Oakmoor students thrash the underdogs at St Bernadette’s. Maddens is resigned to this. His kids are hopeless and losing is the story of his life. Since receiving a vicious review from the local drama critic (Alan Carr) for his last production, he refuses to have anything to do with the annual festive fiasco. Besides, he hates Christmas. Five years ago his girlfriend, Jennifer (Ashley Jensen), dumped him under the mistletoe and left for a new life in California.
Maddens’ headmistress (Pam Ferris), however, has plans of her own. She wants a proper Nativity in her last year before retirement, and she wants him to direct. He is still thinking of ways to wriggle out of it when he runs into Shakespeare at the garden centre. Goaded by his rival’s arrogance, Maddens makes an idle boast: not only is St Bernadette’s preparing a barnstorming Xmas Xtravaganza but their production has already attracted the attention of Hollywood! Jennifer the hotshot producer is coming back to Coventry to make a movie starring his pupils! The lie is overheard by his puppyish classroom assistant, Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton), who has no gift to distinguish truth from falsehood no matter how preposterous.
Overnight, Maddens finds himself at the centre of a perfect storm comprising the Mayor (Ricky Tomlinson), the media, a posse of pushy parents, and an army of pint-sized potential Marys and Josephs. All St Bernadette’s is floating on a cloud of stardust and the children are bursting with Christmas spirit.
But can Maddens possibly persuade Jennifer to bring Hollywood to Coventry and make their dreams come true or will his tangle of lies finally catch him out?
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