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Stars film at cafe

Actress Maxine Peake at Nell's Cafe, Gravesend
Actress Maxine Peake at Nell's Cafe, Gravesend

From a roadside cafe to the Cannes Film Festival, it's all in a day's work for Laurie and Ann Yeomans.

Nell's Cafe, which they have run for 30 years, has been transformed into a film set and besieged by famous actors.

The classic diner, next to the A2 at Gravesend, became a fried chicken hut for a black comedy that will be entered in one of the world's most famous film festivals.

Called Keeping up with the Joneses, it stars screen favourite Maxine Peake (Shameless, Silk, The Village) as an MP's wife who is kidnapped by two criminals, including Geoff Bell (War Horse, Brighton Rock, Ripper Street). Maxine is pictured above having her make-up done at Nell's Cafe.

Geoff and accomplice Adeel Akhtar (Four Lions, Utopia) arrive in an 80s-style car at the cafe and end up fighting a man in a giant chicken costume.

Chef Joe Holderness, of Palmer Avenue, Gravesend, was one of several staff and customers roped in as extras.

The 19-year-old, pictured right with actor Geoff Bell, said: "I had to walk in front of the curtain and look to see what was going on, look shocked then go back into the kitchen.

"It was pretty fun. I've never done any acting and it only took about four takes."

Shot over six days, the short film by BAFTA-nominated director Michael Pearce is one of 16 to have been handed up to £50,000 by the British Film Institute.

Its producers are hopeful it will be finished this summer and make it to big-name festivals like Sundance or Cannes.

Production manager Suzie Frize-Williams said: "We're going to be submitting it to the international film festivals. We've got an extremely good team that's been working very hard."

It is not the first time celebrities have descended on the cafe, where a team spent a week filming the Robson Green TV series Grafters in the 1990s.

Mrs Yeomans said: "We must be on the BBC's list of places to go if they need a traditional cafe. There's not many of us roadside restaurants left.

"We had Chris Evans here for breakfast once and Joe Pasquale likes coming in. Jools Holland loves our liver and bacon dinner."

Mr Yeomans added: "The whole world comes in here. We've met people on holiday who remembered us."

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