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The Lady in the Van (2015)

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A man forms an unexpected bond with a transient woman living in her van that's parked in his driveway.


Nicholas Hytner


Alan Bennett (screenplay), Alan Bennett (memoir)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Maggie Smith ... Miss Shepherd
Jim Broadbent ... Underwood
Clare Hammond Clare Hammond ... Young Margaret Fairchild
George Fenton George Fenton ... Conductor
BBC Concert Orchestra BBC Concert Orchestra ... The British Symphony Orchestra
Alex Jennings ... Alan Bennett
Jamie Parker Jamie Parker ... Estate Agent
Deborah Findlay ... Pauline
Roger Allam ... Rufus
Richard Griffiths Richard Griffiths ... Sam Perry
Pandora Colin Pandora Colin ... Fiona Perry
Nicholas Burns ... Giles Perry
Dominic Cooper ... Actor
Giles Cooper Giles Cooper ... Passer by
Tom Klenerman Tom Klenerman ... Tom Perry


The Lady in the Van tells the true story of Alan Bennett's strained friendship with Miss Mary Shepherd, an eccentric homeless woman whom Bennett befriended in the 1970s before allowing her temporarily to park her Bedford van in the driveway of his Camden home. She stayed there for 15 years. As the story develops Bennett learns that Miss Shepherd is really Margaret Fairchild (died 1989), a former gifted pupil of the pianist Alfred Cortot. She had played Chopin in a promenade concert, tried to become a nun, was committed to an institution by her brother, escaped, had an accident when her van was hit by a motorcyclist for which she believed herself to blame, and thereafter lived in fear of arrest.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Lady arrives. The Lady charms. The Lady stays. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG - 13 for a brief unsettling image | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook




English | French

Release Date:

26 February 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dama iz dvorišta See more »


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£2,256,121 (United Kingdom), 15 November 2015, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$175,280, 22 January 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$10,017,675, 5 June 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


All the scenes with the character of Alan Bennett interacting with himself had to be staged twice, with Alex Jennings and his double, George Taylor, playing their own and each other's roles so that Taylor's character could later have Bennett's image spliced in over his. Taylor also played a policeman in one of the scenes. See more »


Margaret/Mary is shown parking her new Commer van in the drive of Alan Bennett's house and she pulls up on the handbrake in the middle of the van, where a handbrake would normally be. In fact Commer vans had their handbrake to the right of the driver's seat between the seat and the door - not between the two front seats. See more »


[first lines]
Alan Bennett: [typing] The smell is sweet, with urine only a minor component, the prevalent odor suggesting the inside of someone's ear. Dank clothes are there, too, wet wool and onions, which she eats raw. Plus, what for me has always been the essence of poverty, damp newspaper. Miss Shepherd's multi-flavored aroma is masked by a liberal application of various talcum powders, with Yardley's Lavender always a favorite. And currently it is this genteel fragrance that dominates the second subject, ...
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Crazy Credits

During the first part of the credits, a young Margaret can be seen playing the piano at her concert in King's Hall. See more »


Featured in Alan Bennett at 80: Bennett Meets Hytner (2014) See more »


Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

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User Reviews

Satisfying! Perfect flick for a beautiful rainy day.
14 July 2016 | by nikhil_kamraSee all my reviews

"The Lady in the Van"

I added this movie to my watch-list months ago, as soon as I saw the premise and Maggie's name in it's description. Just watched it. And it's EXACTLY what I expected it to be. :)

The plot: (without spoilers)

It's a poignant portrayal of a homeless woman who finds shelter when a lonely writer out of his timidness (don't confuse it with politeness, although being England, timid is good, too) lets her park her van in his driveway. Their bond, which was supposed to end within a few months, lasts almost 15 years.

The review: (without spoilers)

From the starting, you'll be hooked to the character of Maggie Smith, thanks to her glorious acting and the delightful character, Mary/Margaret/Miss Sheperd, she brings life to. Alex Jennings, who plays Alan, the man who lets her stay in her driveway, is quite a delightful actor himself. I don't think I've seen him in any other flicks. Yet.

Regardless to say, the acting is superb. The plot is adorable and heartbreaking, both at the same time. It's a perfect little drama movie with loads of charming humor, mainly delivered by Maggie. Yes, it gets a bit, as the other reviewers have put it, "dull" in the second half, but I think it's perfectly fine, because going in halfway, I expected nothing else. By the time it ended, there was a sense of contentedness in my heart. Also, it had stopped raining, not that THAT matters! :P

In short, this movie is a perfect, "bundle of joy".

I give it: 7.5/10

Also, I have noticed most of the British flicks go unnoticed, here on IMDb. I really wonder why. I have been tracking this one here for months and still it has only 10K or so votes and a lower rating than it deserves. Anyway, I hope this review will attract more viewers? I don't know, but one CAN hope.

That's it for now folks! :)

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
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