The blue door
Apart from Rhys Ifans's pants on the radiator, Hugh Grant's dishevelled pad in Notting Hill is famous for two reasons: firstly, its distinctive blue door, easily recognisable to anyone wandering around London W11; and secondly, the fact that it was actually owned by Richard Curtis at the time of filming. He used the film as a global quasi-estate agent and sold the place for a hefty profit, clever boy.
Despite his shimmering script-writing CV, Curtis had never directed a movie until 2003's Love Actually. He decided that the plot, with its numerous concurrent storylines and occasionally colliding twists, required a certain lightness of touch, and he didn't trust anyone else to be in charge.
Looking for Bernard
Anyone paying close attention to Curtis's work over the last 20 years will have noticed a strange theme running through his oeuvre. In nearly every sitcom and movie with which he's been involved, there's a character called Bernard - and it turns out Curtis has a fairly just axe to grind. The Tory MP for North Essex is one Bernard Jenkin, and it is he who nicked Curtis's girlfriend many moons ago. Curtis has responded in the best way he can, making all his Bernards figures of fun.
No more I love yous
Ironically, even though Love Actually has been touted as the ultimate romantic comedy, with more schmaltz than a Jewish mass wedding and more lingering lustful looks than your average school disco, one phrase is conspicuous by it absence. Curtis neglected to have any of his 22 characters say those three little words - presumably for fear of the screen exploding in a mass of gooey mush at the first utterance.
Curtis has long proclaimed a personal obsession with fame and all that it entails. Many thought his fixation had reached its apex with Notting Hill's (albeit lightweight) meditation on the perils of cinematic ubiquity, but it seems Curtis can't let it lie, including both a Prime Minister and a rock star into Love Actually. And as if he hadn't inflicted enough pain on the world by using Wet Wet Wet's career-ending cover of Love Is All Around as the Four Weddings theme tune, Curtis had the gall to resurrect the tune again for Bill Nighy's ageing rocker in Love Actually. Grrr.