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Johnny English is a 2003 British comic film parodying the James Bond secret agent genre. It starred Rowan Atkinson (who, two decades earlier, appeared in an unofficial James Bond film - Never Say Never Again) as the incompetent Britishmarker spy of the title, with John Malkovich, Natalie Imbruglia, Tasha de Vasconcelos and Ben Miller. The screenplay was written by Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with William Davies and the film is directed by Peter Howitt. The film was known by the tagline He knows no fear, he knows no danger, he knows nothing. The movie grossed a total of $160 million worldwide.

Principal character's precursor

The character of Johnny English himself is based on a similar character called Richard Latham who was played by Atkinson in a series of British television advertisements for Barclaycard. The character of Bough (pronounced 'Boff') was retained from the advertisements though another actor, Henry Naylor, played the part in the ads. Some of the gags from the advertisements made it into the film, including English incorrectly identifying a waiter, and the ballpoint pen scene (Latham inadvertently 'shot' himself with a tranquilizer dart which fired from the gadget pen when Latham attempted to use it during a demonstration to a class of spy recruits, saying as he collapsed "take over for a Bougher, will you moment?" before being taken to hospital).


An explosion at the funeral of Agent One, Britain's top agent, wipes out every secret agent in the country—except one. When a plot to steal the Crown Jewelsmarker is revealed, Johnny English, an inept worker at British Intelligencemarker (whose bungling was partially responsible for not only the agents' death, but Agent One himself, after giving Agent One incorrect information about his mission) is summoned as a last resort. Together with his assistant Angus Bough (Ben Miller), he manages to discover the person behind the plot, the French prison entrepreneur Pascal Sauvage (John Malkovich), whose family once had a claim to the throne.

Sauvage - a descendant of William the Conqueror - believes that the crown should have gone to him instead of the Queen, and has hatched an evil plan to steal the Crown Jewels, have an impostor replace the Archbishop of Canterbury (Oliver Ford Davies), and have him proclaim Sauvage as King. Meanwhile, English is strangely attracted to a mysterious woman, Lorna Campbell (Natalie Imbruglia), whom he meets at a big social event whilst guarding the centrepiece to the whole event—the Crown Jewels. He inevitably fails, and the Jewels, despite a desperate attempt on his part to retrieve them, are stolen.

Meanwhile, English reports his suspicions to the head of MI7 named Pegasus (Tim Pigott-Smith), who naturally doesn't believe him. English and Bough infiltrate Sauvage's headquarters, behind the knowledge of the agency, via parachute. English initially lands on the wrong building abseiling, the nearby and identical London Hospital, and after a phenomenal error of judgment resulting in him holding several doctors and patients at gunpoint, English enters the headquarters through a back door. Both agents activate a DVD player, exposing Sauvage's sinister scheme. English, after accidentally injecting himself with muscle relaxant, meets Lorna again, who turns out to be an Interpol agent herself, also on Sauvage's tail. Along with Bough, they gatecrash a party held by Sauvage, and Bough and English are promptly dismissed by their superiors (partly due to one of the henchmen reporting English's antics to Sauvage, still a friend of English's unwitting boss, and partially because the muscle relaxant's effects had not worn off completely, making English seem somewhat inebriated).

Sauvage concludes that English knows too much and has his henchmen enter Sandringham Housemarker and force the Queen to sign a letter of abdication renouncing her family's claim to the British throne. The Queen, at first, refuses to sign even at gunpoint, but when the threat is turned to one of her Welsh Corgis, she obeys, thus, leaving the post free for Sauvage. Sauvage is informed by British officials the day after that, as the closest surviving relative of the Queen, the position of monarch now belongs to him.

English returns to his flat in regret for himself. However, Lorna pays him a visit, saying that the mission which he was dismissed from was reassigned to her, and she persuades English to join her. They both travel to France and infiltrate Sauvage's chateau and overhear Sauvage's proposal of turning the United Kingdom into a giant prison once he is king. However, in a room where they are spying on Sauvage, English accidentally triggers a microphone, which causes Sauvage to hear their tactics and promptly call on guards to seize them. They decide to take the DVD, but due to English dropping it on a tray full of identical unlabeled disks, take the wrong one—a surveillance video of English dancing to ABBA in his bathroom. They are held hostage by Sauvage, however they are freed by Bough and return to England on the day of his coronation.

At Sauvage's coronation, English sneaks in with Lorna, emerges from his disguise as the English bishop in front of Sauvage and publicly accuses him of treason. Unaware that the fake Archbishop is dead, English attempts to verify his claim by pulling at the Archbishop's face, believing it to be a mask. This fails predictably. Undeterred, he tries to expose the 'fake' Archbishop a second time. Whilst infiltrating Sauvage's headquarters earlier on in the film, when Sauvage's first plan was still in action, English spotted a tattoo on the lower back of the original wearer of the Archbishop mask: ' Jesus is coming... look busy '. English grabs the Archbishop, turns him round and, in front of everyone at Westminster Abbey and the millions of viewers, bares the Archbishop's tattoo-free arse. Upon realizing that there is no tattoo there himself, English resorts to a final, last-ditch attempt.

He radios to Bough to tell him to play the DVD they retrieved. Bough has the people running the event at gunpoint, and makes them play the DVD on the massive television screen in the Abbey, an act which results in three-quarters of the world's population watching English, in a shower cap and underpants, dancing and miming along to 'Does Your Mother Know', by ABBA. English is subsequently taken away, but breaks free from Sauvage's cronies once again and, swinging from a wire above Sauvage and the Archbishop, grabs the crown before it touches Sauvage's head. While he is trying to prevent the Archbishop from crowning Sauvage king, he falls onto the throne, knocking Sauvage onto the floor, and is inadvertently crowned himself; he then places Sauvage under arrest, reveals the schemes to the public, and allows in the Queen to happily return to the throne.

The film ends with a romantic drive up a mountain. At the top, Johnny and Lorna start to get romantic but Johnny accidentally presses the eject button in his car and Lorna shoots into the sky, whilst still strapped to her seat, eventually landing into a swimming pool. "Oh F----" says Johnny and the credits roll. During the end credits of the film, Lorna lands in a swimming pool, which has a false assailant at it's side, the appearance of which Johnny gave to a Data Support officer whilst covering for his own mistake of knocking out the head of Royal Security in the Tower of Londonmarker


Actor Role
Tim Pigott-Smith Pegasus
Kevin McNally Prime Minister
Oliver Ford Davies Archbishop of Canterbury
Douglas McFerran Klaus/Carlos Vendetta

Portrayal of the monarchy in the film

The denial of Sauvage's family's claim to the throne references the Jacobite succession. This is never mentioned explicitly (since the Jacobite line still bears real-life descendants), though Sauvage has a portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie in his office, and the Jacobite family (eg the Old Pretender) lived for a time in France before and after their failed invasions of England in the 18th century.

The conferring of a knighthood, even in exceptional circumstances such as this, would usually occur in the birthday or new year honours list rather than immediately afterwards.

The Instrument of Abdication that the Queen was forced to sign was a copy of the one Edward VIII signed in 1936 - however, the title " of India", which Edward was during his reign, was omitted. The dates on the Queen's Instrument of Abdication were also changed in kind, and it was stated that she abdicated at Sandringham Housemarker, rather than Fort Belvederemarker, as Edward did.

Filming locations

  • Some scenes were filmed at Canary Wharfmarker 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.
  • The scenes set in Westminster Abbeymarker were filmed in St. Albans Abbeymarker (though this connection is solely implied through the dialogue— for this footage is never intercut with footage of the real abbey's exterior but the interior, with its half mediaeval and half gothic arches is most definitely the abbey's).
  • The exteriors in the first credits sequence scene is Burghley Housemarker or Hardwick Hallmarker.
  • 'Sandringham' is Hughenden Manormarker.
  • The exterior and interior of MI7's headquarters which English enters at the start is Freemasons' Hall, Londonmarker, which is also used as Thames Housemarker (the MI5 headquarters) in Spooks.
  • The scenes where Johnny English drives into Dover, Kentmarker along the A20 road (with Dover Castlemarker in the background) and then enters the Port of Dovermarker (with a "Dover Ferry Terminal" sign, Dover's Athol Terrace and the White Cliffs of Dovermarker in the background) to catch a ferry to France, were all shot on location.
  • The exterior of Sauvage's French chateau is actually the castle atop St Michael's Mountmarker in Cornwallmarker.


There have been reports of a sequel to Johnny English. Atkinson confirmed on Richard & Judy on 28 March 2007 that a script for a second film was being worked on. Atkinson also said in an interview for Mr. Bean's Holiday that there is quite a moderate chance for a sequel.


The film received a largely mixed and negative response from critics, many of whom described it as having a formulatic, predictable narrative and meaningless, often nonsensical storyline. It currently holds a 33% approval rating on the review site Rotten Tomatoes.


All tracks by London Metropolitan Orchestra unless otherwise noted.

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


  1. Johnny English 2 (TBA) - Rowan Atkinson

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