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Johnny English

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Johnny English
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPeter Howitt
Written byNeal Purvis
Robert Wade

William Davies
Produced byTim Bevan
Eric Fellner
Mark Huffam
StarringRowan Atkinson
Natalie Imbruglia
Ben Miller
John Malkovich
CinematographyRemi Adefarasin
Edited byRobin Sales
Music byEdward Shearmur
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 11 April 2003 (2003-04-11) (United Kingdom)
  • 18 July 2003 (2003-07-18) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes[2]
CountriesUnited Kingdom[3]
United States[4]
Budget$40 million[2]
Box office$160.5 million[2]

Johnny English is a 2003 spy action comedy film directed by Peter Howitt and written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and William Davies. It is a British-French venture produced by StudioCanal and Working Title Films, and distributed by Universal Pictures.

Starring Rowan Atkinson in the title role along with Natalie Imbruglia, Ben Miller and John Malkovich, it is the first instalment of the Johnny English film series and serves as a parody and homage to the spy genre, mainly the James Bond film series, as well as Atkinson's Mr. Bean character. The character is also related to Atkinson's bumbling spy character from a series of adverts in the United Kingdom for Barclaycard in the 1990s.

Released theatrically in the United States on 18 July 2003, the film met with mixed reviews from critics but was commercially successful and grossed $160 million worldwide against a budget of $40 million.[2] The film was released in the United Kingdom on 11 April 2003 and topped the country's box office for the next three weekends, before being overtaken by X2.[5][6][7] It was followed by two sequels, Johnny English Reborn (2011) and Johnny English Strikes Again (2018).


Kindhearted but clumsy MI7 agent Johnny English dreams of becoming Agent One, MI7's top agent. After the real Agent One and then all of MI7's remaining agents are killed through English's unwitting incompetence at his funeral, he is left as the sole surviving agent capable of finishing Agent One's mission.

Assigned to thwart a plot to steal the newly restored Crown Jewels at an event hosted by French prison magnate Pascal Sauvage, English meets the mysterious Lorna Campbell at the jewels' unveiling at the Tower of London. During a sudden blackout, the Crown Jewels are stolen and English accidentally knocks out the head of security. He fights an imaginary assailant to cover his mistakes, and gives a false description of the unseen suspect to MI7 head Pegasus.

English and his assistant Angus Bough follow a tunnel dug beneath the jewel's display case and confront German thieves Dieter Klein and Klaus Vendetta, who escape in a hearse. English loses them by pursuing a different hearse, subsequently gatecrashing a funeral.

Sauvage is revealed to be Klein and Vendetta's employer, and instructs the thieves to eliminate English. Pegasus refuses to believe English and Bough's claims that Sauvage is involved and orders them to exclude Sauvage from the investigation. English and Bough are attacked by Vendetta, who escapes when English mistakenly attacks Bough. English again encounters Campbell and, having seen her at two crime scenes, his suspicions deepen when no record of her can be found.

Determined to expose Sauvage, English and Bough infiltrate Sauvage's headquarters and learn that Sauvage, a descendant of Charles Edward Stuart, plans to make himself king using an impostor Archbishop of Canterbury. English observes that the fake Archbishop has a tattoo on his backside saying Jesus is coming — look busy. Campbell reveals herself to be an Interpol agent also tracking Sauvage. English then crashes a reception hosted by Sauvage and is dishonourably removed from the case by Pegasus.

Sauvage abandons his plan to use the fake Archbishop and instead blackmails Queen Elizabeth II into abdicating and erasing her line of succession by threatening her corgis. Campbell, now in charge of the assignment, convinces English to travel to Sauvage's French château and investigate behind Pegasus' back. After learning that Sauvage intends to transform mainland Britain into the world's biggest prison, English accidentally blows their cover in planning to capture Sauvage; he attempts to steal an incriminating DVD but accidentally takes the wrong disc before the two agents are captured.

Bough rescues English and Campbell, and the three race to stop Sauvage's coronation. English exposes the Archbishop's bare bottom and discovers by the lack of the expected tattoo that he is genuine. Undeterred, English has Bough play the incriminating DVD, only to find it is footage of himself, from a bug placed by Sauvage in his apartment, lip-syncing to ABBA's "Does Your Mother Know" in his underclothes. Having snuck away, English swings back in on a wire to steal St Edward's Crown from the Archbishop. Sauvage attacks him, who drops the crown, and moments before he is crowned, English lands on the throne knocking Sauvage off, and is crowned himself. As king, English has Sauvage arrested before restoring Elizabeth to the throne, requesting only a knighthood as reward.

As Sauvage is awaiting trial for high treason and execution, he requests that after he dies, his brain will be donated for schizophrenia research. English and Campbell drive to southern France but English accidentally ejects Campbell from his car whilst attempting to kiss her. In the post-credits scene, she lands in a swimming pool where Bough and a man matching the description of the imaginary assailant are on holiday.


Additionally, the film's director Peter Howitt played a cameo in the film, as the man Bough threatens to play the DVD at Sauvage's coronation.


In March 2000, before the release of Maybe Baby, Atkinson signed up to star as a spoof 007, with the news becoming official.[8]

In July 2002, Johnny English principal photography commenced. The film shot for fourteen weeks, filming at Shepperton Studios, on location in London and St. Albans, and finally setting down in Monte Carlo for two days to complete filming the final scene.[9] In September 2002, it was announced that Natalie Imbruglia would star alongside Atkinson.[10]

The character of Johnny English himself is based on a similar character called Richard Latham, who Atkinson played in a series of British television adverts for Barclaycard.[11] The character of Bough (pronounced 'Boff') was retained from the adverts though another actor, Henry Naylor, played the part in the ads. Some of the gags from the adverts made it into the film, including English incorrectly identifying a waiter, and inadvertently shooting himself with a tranquilliser ballpoint pen.

Filming locations[edit]

  • Some scenes were filmed at Canary Wharf in London—indeed, the film duplicates the single real tower into two identical ones (albeit on the real site) for the fictional London Hospital and Sauvage's headquarters at 1 Canada Square.
  • The scenes set in Westminster Abbey were filmed in St. Albans Abbey:[12] though this connection is solely implied through the dialogue—for this footage is never intercut with footage of the real abbey's exterior. The interior (with the televisual screen hiding the St Albans organ) is clearly St Albans. The choir singing in the coronation scene is St Albans Cathedral Choir.
  • Both the exteriors and interiors in the introductory dream sequence scene are in Mentmore Towers.[13]
  • The exterior and interior of MI7's headquarters which English enters at the start is Freemasons' Hall, London,[12] which is also used as Thames House (the MI5 headquarters) in Spooks.
  • The scenes where Johnny English drives into Dover, Kent along the A20 road (with Dover Castle in the background) and then enters the Port of Dover (with a "Dover Ferry Terminal" sign, Dover's Athol Terrace and the White Cliffs of Dover in the background) to catch a ferry to France, were all shot on location.[14]
  • The exterior of Sauvage's French château is actually the castle atop St Michael's Mount in Cornwall.[12]
  • The scenes in Brompton Cemetery were filmed there.[12]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 33% based on 122 reviews with an average rating of 4.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A tame spy spoof that elicits infrequent chuckles."[15] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 51 out of 100 based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average" reviews.[16] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[17]


All tracks were written by Edward Shearmur and performed by London Metropolitan Orchestra unless otherwise noted.

  1. "A Man for All Seasons" (Hans Zimmer, Robbie Williams) – Robbie Williams
  2. "Theme from Johnny English" (Howard Goodall)
  3. "Russian Affairs"
  4. "A Man of Sophistication"
  5. "Kismet" (Written by Gay-Yee Westerhoff) – Bond
  6. "Truck Chase"
  7. "The Only Ones"Moloko
  8. "Parachute Drop"
  9. "Pascal's Evil Plan"
  10. "Theme from Johnny English (Salsa Version)" (Howard Goodall) – Bond
  11. "Off the Case"
  12. "Cafe Conversation"
  13. "Into Pascal's Lair"
  14. "Zadok the Priest" – Handel
  15. "Does Your Mother Know" – ABBA
  16. "For England"
  17. "Riviera Highway"
  18. "Agent No. 1"

Home media[edit]

Johnny English was released on VHS on 11 August 2003 and on DVD on 11 January 2004.[18] A DVD re-release, entitled Johnny English: Fully Loaded Edition, was released on 19 September 2011, including bonus material about its sequel Johnny English Reborn.[19]

The film was released on Blu-ray on 28 February 2012,[20] along with its sequel Johnny English Reborn. The film was released on Netflix in February 2016.[21]


A sequel, titled Johnny English Reborn, was released in October 2011. In September 2010, filming for the sequel began, seven years after the release of the original, and concluded in March 2011. The film follows Johnny English, now training in Asia after being disgraced in an earlier mission, as he attempts to foil a plot to assassinate the Chinese Premier, while a mole is found in "MI7" and English has to deal with being framed.

In May 2017, it was announced that pre-production had begun on a third film titled, Johnny English Strikes Again, which was released on 5 October 2018.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In the Johnny English franchise, whoever leads MI7 is codenamed "Pegasus" and is known by that codename until retirement or forced departure from the position of head of MI7. It is the equivalent of the M in the James Bond franchise (those who lead MI6 receive the codename M and are known by that codename until retirement or forced departure from the position of head of MI6). Due to this, his true name is unknown.
  2. ^ It is heavily implied that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom depicted in the film would be Tony Blair (who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007)


  1. ^ "Film #20314: Johnny English". Lumiere. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Johnny English (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
  3. ^ Lemire, Christy (21 October 2011). "Film review: 'Johnny English' fires wildly, but mostly misses comic targets". Deseret News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 4 December 2012. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Johnny English (2003)". BFI. Archived from the original on 9 October 2020. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Weekend box office 11th April 2003 - 13th April 2003". 25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Weekend box office 18th April 2003 - 20th April 2003". 25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  7. ^ "Weekend box office 25th April 2003 - 27th April 2003". 25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Rowan Atkinson to star as spoof 007". The Guardian. 2 March 2000. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Johnny English - Production Notes". contactmusic.com. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Natalie Imbruglia Takes on Hollywood". cinema.com. 20 September 2002. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  11. ^ Stuart Heritage (13 April 2011). "Johnny English Reborn: I spy with my little eye …". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  12. ^ a b c d "Johnny English (2003)". British Film Locations. 2015. Archived from the original on 9 November 2022. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  13. ^ "Johnny English filming locations". UK Onscreen. Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
  14. ^ Kent Film Office (2 November 2003). "Kent Film Office Johnny English Film Focus".
  15. ^ "Johnny English Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
  16. ^ "Johnny English Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  17. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  18. ^ Johnny English (2003), retrieved 15 November 2018
  19. ^ Johnny English - Fully Loaded Edition [DVD], 19 September 2011, retrieved 1 February 2022
  20. ^ "DVDs Release Dates - Latest Info on New DVD Releases". DVDs Release Dates. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  21. ^ MaFt.co.uk, Johnny English (2003) on Netflix USA :: New On Netflix USA, retrieved 15 November 2018

External links[edit]