Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Nativity night comes to Coventry
Ashley Jenson and Martin Freeman
Ashley Jenson stars as Martin Freeman's ex-girlfriend in the film

On Monday, 23 November 2009, the world premiere of the film Nativity! was held at the Skydome in Coventry.

The film, written and directed by Debbie Isitt, is set in her hometown of Coventry and is about two schools trying to produce the best nativity.

The star-studded cast includes Martin Freeman, Ashley Jenson, Alan Carr, Marc Wootton - and the school children, who are probably the most important part.

You can also spot the cathedrals, Spon Street and other Coventry landmarks.

Director and writer Isitt trained as an actor and has gone on to produce several productions on stage and screen - including Confetti, which also starred Freeman, Jason Watkins and Wootton.

Like Confetti, Nativity! is also partly improvised, but this time it had a structured beginning and ending.

Talking about Isitt's love of improvisation, Freeman said: "It sounded like potentially a nice story with a bit of a love story and a bit of hope and joy for children - and Debbie is open to everything.

"If you feel like doing something, she will say yes, do it. I find it really enjoyable. I like the fact that she is brave enough to do a film without a script. She is a lunatic but she is a visionary lunatic."

In 2008, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire followed the filming of Nativity! in Coventry city centre. Snow was spotted in Priory Street and camels were grazing outside the cathedrals.

House in Spon Street
A house in Spon Street gets a festive feel for Nativity!

Spon Street was also transformed into a winter wonderland. The shops were covered in decorations and Christmas trees were in their windows and doorways. One house looked particularly festive with a wreath on its red door.

It was still only September, but the rainfall helped with the cold winter atmosphere that had descended on that part of the city.

Meeting the stars

During the day of the Premiere, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire were lucky enough to meet up with some of the cast and Isitt at Holy Family Catholic Primary School. This is where they filmed the scenes based at the school Mr Maddens (Freeman) teaches at.

Talking about her inspiration behind the film, Isitt said: "I'd been watching my little girl's nativity plays every Christmas for four or five years and every year I just thought they were really funny and there's always a moving moment.

"I thought that's it, I'm going to make a film about a school nativity play and I went to the BBC, talked to them about it and they thought it was a really, really great idea."

Website exclusive

The BBC Coventry & Warwickshire website also spoke with the stars and asked them a few extra questions.

We couldn't resist asking Martin Freeman what he thought about social networking after seven-year-old Ben Wilby let slip that Alan Carr had added him on Facebook.

He also talked about some of the things he'd like for Christmas, what his best Christmas present has been and what he'll be appearing in next.

The premiere

Martin Freeman

The world premiere was held at the Odeon at the Skydome in Coventry. The red carpet was rolled out and Christmas trees were lined the walkway from Spon Street to the cinema.

Despite the rain, a little bit of Hollywood came to Coventry for one night only.

Guests included some of the many school children who starred in the film, Freeman, Wootton, Watkins, Isitt and the Lord Mayor of Coventry.

The film officially opens on general release on Friday, 27 November 2009.

In pictures: Nativity! premiere
24 Nov 09 |  Arts & Culture
Film crews flock to Midlands
23 Sep 08 |  England


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