The Girl in the Cafe

The Girl in the Cafe Information

The Girl in the Café is a British made-for-television drama film directed by David Yates, written by Richard Curtis and produced by Hilary Bevan Jones. The film is produced by the independent production company Tightrope Pictures and was originally screened on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 25 June 2005. It was also shown in the United States on cable television station Home Box Office on the same day. Bill Nighy portrays the character of Lawrence, with Kelly Macdonald portraying Gina. Nighy and Macdonald had previously starred together in the 2003 BBC serial State of Play, which was also directed by Yates and produced by Bevan-Jones. The Girl in the Café's casting director is Fiona Weir who, at the time, was also the casting director for the Harry Potter films, the last four of which Yates directed. The film was noted at the 2006 Primetime Emmy Awards; it won for Outstanding Made for Television Movie.


The film tells the story of Lawrence (Bill Nighy), a civil servant working for the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Ken Stott), who falls in love with Gina (Kelly Macdonald), a young woman whom he meets by chance in a London café. Lawrence takes Gina to a G8 summit in Reykjavík, Iceland, where she confronts the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (Corin Redgrave) over the issue of third world debt and poverty in Africa, much to Lawrence's embarrassment and the anger of his employers. However, he realises that she is right and tries to help persuade the Chancellor and others at the summit to do something about the issues concerned.


The production was conceived to tie-in both with the BBC's Africa Lives season of programming, and with the global Make Poverty History campaign, for which writer Curtis was a prominent campaigner. As such, it was also shown in South Africa on the same day as its UK and US premieres. Curtis was better-known as a writer of romantic comedy films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Love Actually (the latter of which he also directed and had featured Nighy). Although The Girl in the Café does contain some of his trademark comedy elements, it is generally more serious in tone and attempts to highlight the issues of poverty and fair trade.


On BBC One, the programme gained an audience of 5.5 million, a 29% share of the total television audience watching over its ninety minute duration, winning its timeslot. The opinions, however, were divided.

Andrew Anthony, for example, wrote a negative review in The Observer:

Sarah Vine, being herself a wife to a conservative politician, argued in The Times that the message was devaluated by the oversimplification of the problem. In her opinion the main weakness of the film is the belief that the leaders of G8 can do anything to actually handle poverty.:

However, the film gained positive reviews too, with Alessandre Stanley from The New York Times stating:

There were also more positive reactions. Previewing the programme before transmission, Sarah Crompton was very enthusiastic when writing for The Daily Telegraph:

Macdonald and Nighy were both nominated at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards for their performances in the production, while the film and Macdonald received Emmy wins. David Yates and Fiona Weir were also nominated at the Emmy Awards for Outstanding Directing and Casting respectively.

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