The Christmas romantic comedy Love Actually was released almost 20 years ago, but have you clocked its Essex connection?

The film written and directed by Richard Curtis follows ten separate stories and begins five weeks before Christmas.

It has a stellar cast including the late Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Kiera Knightly, Bill Nighy and Colin Firth.

The character with an Essex link is Colin Frissell, played by Kris Marshall.

After unsuccessful attempts to woo various women in Britain he reveals to friend Tony his plans to head to America.

He is convinced his Britishness will help him find a girl.

After landing in Milwaukee Colin meets Stacey, Jeannie and Carol-Anne in a bar where he reveals he is from Basildon.

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They then invite him to stay at their home alongside roommate Harriet.

In the final scenes of the film viewers find out what becomes of Colin and the rest of the characters.

The scene, set at Heathrow Airport, shows him returning home from America with Harriet and her sister Carla.

The trio meet Colin’s friend Tony.

The film, which has become a Christmas-time classic, made more than $246million at the box office.

A television sequel for Red Nose Day, aptly called Red Nose Day Actually, aired in 2017.

Sadly it did not feature Colin’s story, so we may never know what happened to the boy from Basildon.

Why do we love cheesy Christmas movies so much?

Christmas films are a whole genre in themselves. They tend to be saccharine, cheesy, entirely predictable – and a world away from cutting edge cinema.

There’s a scientific reason why we welcome schmaltzy films the second December hits.

“There’s a hormone called oxytocin, which is produced when we want to bond emotionally with each other,” explains Noel McDermott, CEO and psychotherapist (

“During Christmas – when we’re meeting people we haven’t seen in ages that we love – oxytocin levels go through the roof, particularly because it’s produced mostly in safe, loving relationships with people we’re non-sexual with.”

Oxytocin is produced through “eye contact and physical contact”, he says, and over Christmas, many of us see family and friends who we have “very fond, strong, bonded emotional relationships to”.

We gravitate towards Christmas films every year because, “We’re creatures of habit,” admits McDermott. It’s something of a ritual for many of us – either rewatching the old classics, or seeking comfort in a new movie’s unsurprising plot.

McDermott says comfort, predictability and structure are “absolutely essential for psychological security and stability”.