Nativity! (2009) Facts To Fill You With Christmas Nostalgia

Nativity!, released in 2009, has become a contemporary Christmas classic. It was directed by Debbie Isitt and it stars Martin Freeman, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wootton and Pam Ferris. Our Nativity! facts include why the film is set in Coventry, how the children were cast and where you may have been Pam Ferris play a headteacher before.

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Nativity!, released in 2009, has become a contemporary Christmas classic as its original young viewers have grown up since first watching the film and now watch it every year. Nativity! was directed by Debbie Isitt and it stars Martin Freeman, Ashley Jensen, Marc Wootton and Pam Ferris. 

Nativity! follows teacher Paul Maddens at Saint Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School in Coventry. Every year St Bernadettes competes with Oakamoor, a local Protestant Private School, to see who can produce the best nativity play. Headteacher Mrs Bevan tasks him with running this year‘s play and asks him to look after new teaching assistant Mr Poppy who is quite childish himself. 

To try and stir up the competition, Paul lies and says a Hollywood producer will be turning their production into a best-selling Hollywood film and has to go along with it after the children get very excited. Paul then has to try and pull some strings to get his ex-girlfriend Jennifer, who now works in Hollywood, to come and watch the production. 

The film was written by the director Debbie Isitt for the BBC but it was also partially improvised. Premiered on the 23rd of November 2009 in the SkyDome Arena in Coventry, the town where the film is set.

1. Nativity! Is Now 4 Films And A Musical

Since its release in cinemas in November 2009, three more films in the Nativity! series have been released. Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger was released in 2012 followed by Nativity 3: Dude, Where’s My Donkey? which was released in 2014. In 2018 the fourth film Nativity Rocks! was released. 

In 2017 a stage musical adapted from the film Nativity! began touring the UK throughout Christmas.

2. Nativity The Musical Has Had Celebrity Guest Stars

The stage musical adaptation was written and directed again by Debbie Isitt and the music was composed by Nicky Ager. It opened at another West Midlands venue, Birmingham Repertory Theatre in October 2017. Celebrities including Louis Walsh, Danny Dyer, Joe Brand, Rylan Clark Neal and Sharon Osbourne have all guest starred in the production. 

3. Nativity! Made £5,187,402 At The Box Office

It was announced in August 2008 principal photography was due to start and Martin Freeman would in the lead role as Paul Maddens.

According to the UK film council, when Nativity! was released in the UK it opened at number five at the Box Office taking £794,314. In its third week the film rose to number four and in the end made £5,187,402. 

4. Debbie Isitt Edited Nativity! In Her Spare Bedroom

Around 120 hours of footage was shot for Nativity! during six weeks. Debbie Isitt spent 10 months editing the film in her spare bedroom with chief editor Nicky Ager.

5. Coventry Residents Decorated The Streets For Filming

During production, local residents in Coventry decorated the streets to make the city look more Christmassy.

6. Debbie Isitt Was Inspired By Her Daughter’s School Play

Debbie Isitt got the idea for Nativity! after she went to watch her daughter's school nativity play. Incidentally her daughter had a small part in the finished film.

7. All Of The Children Were Picked In Open Casting

The children who starred in Nativity! were all recruited from open casting calls in the Midlands with many of them never having acted before. This is one of the reasons that Nativity! is so special. The children are believable characters and are not from showbiz backgrounds.

8. Pam Ferris Has Played A Headteacher Before

This is not the first time that Pam Ferris has played a headteacher. Many of you may recognise Pam Ferris from playing the terrifying Miss Trunchbull in the 1996 Danny DeVito directed adaptation of Matilda.

9. Why Was Nativity! Set In Coventry?

Coventry was chosen as the setting for Nativity! as this is where director Debbie Isitt lives and was born.

10. Nativity! Includes A Harvey Weinstein Joke

In the scene in which Mr Maddens is at the Hollywood studios, Jennifer admits that she isn’t an Executive Producer and cannot really help him. When Mr Maddens asks if there is anybody out there called “Harvey or Bob” who can help him out, he is obviously referencing notorious film producers Harvey and Bob Weinstein.

Nativity! Facts - Nativity! (2009) Facts To Fill You With Christmas Nostalgia

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