Dame Maggie Smith films scenes for new Alan Bennett movie in Primrose Hill
- Credit: Alex Flood
Dame Maggie Smith dressed down for the day to reprise her role as a tramp in the film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s autobiographical play and novel, The Lady in the Van, which was filming at a café in Primrose Hill last Thursday.
The movie tells the story of homeless vagrant Miss Shepherd and the rather strange relationship she formed with Bennett when he allowed her to stay in her van on his driveway.
Bennett, who also wrote the screenplay for the £4million production, was on hand to give advice to Smith and her co-star Alex Jennings, who plays the 80-year-old playwright.
The Lady in the Van, set for release early in the new year, is a joint venture between the BBC and TriStar Pictures. Shooting began three weeks ago and 80 per cent of it will be done in Camden.
Producer Nick Loader said the crew had tried to film mostly where the events of the story happened.
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“Primrose Hill is gorgeous,” he said. “It’s changed a lot since 1973, but it’s one of the great villages of London and it still feels like that.”
Helen Simmons, 60-year-old local resident and friend of Mr Bennett, said: “I think it’s wonderful for the Primrose Hill community. We often have people filming here.”
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Speaking about the film, she said: “This lady came one day and stayed in his driveway for 15 years. It’s a lovely story. Maggie Smith’s a national treasure; I’d watch anything she’s in.”
When asked to comment on his adopted home town, Mr Bennett said: “It’s great, I love Primrose Hill.”
He added, in typically eccentric manner: “They say you end up at the station you arrived at and I arrived at King’s Cross, so there you go.”