Centrepiece Gala Supported by the Mayor of London

The Lady in the Van

Award-festooned collaborators Nicholas Hytner and Alan Bennett (The Madness of King George, The History Boys), return for this witty and insightful adaptation of Bennett’s play.

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Director Nicholas Hytner
Producers Kevin Loader, Nicholas Hytner, Damian Jones
Screenwriter Alan Bennett
With Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Frances De La Tour, Roger Allam
UK 2015
104 mins
UK distribution Sony Pictures Releasing (UK)

Director Nicholas Hytner and writer Alan Bennett, whose award-winning collaborations have included both the theatrical staging and the screen adaptations of The Madness of King George and The History Boys, return for this witty and insightful adaptation of Bennett’s play. It’s the late 1960s and Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) has just moved to leafy Gloucester Crescent in Camden. No sooner has he arrived than he encounters Miss Shepherd (Maggie Smith), a destitute and irascible lady of an indeterminate age who resides in her van up the street. When she outstays her welcome with the neighbours, Bennett takes pity on her and allows her to park the van in his driveway, not realising that she will remain there until her death 15 years later. Bennett uses this rich, real-life story to expand on the themes of community spirit and loneliness, as well as the ways in which dependency builds between writer and subject. The brilliant Maggie Smith reprises the role of Miss Shepherd, having first performed it in Hytner and Bennett’s original 1999 stage production and subsequently for radio in 2009. Her depth of experience with the role is tangible, portraying Miss Shepherd with a frailty, madness and steely reserve that is both amusing and quietly devastating.

Clare Stewart