A businessman struggles to travel home for Thanksgiving with an obnoxious slob of a shower curtain ring salesman as his only companion. It doesn’t sound much like the basis for greatness but Planes, Trains and Automobiles is an ‘80s comedy cult classic, starring Steve Martin and John Candy.

One of its many fans is former EastEnders villain Sophie Thompson – she played child abuser Stella Crawford from 2006 to 2007 – who hosts the latest Phoenix Night celebrity’s choice screening held at her local film house, the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley.

“I’m no film buff,” says Sophie, who has also starred in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Eat Pray Love and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “so when I was asked to choose a film, I just wrote down some of my favourite ones. I was surprised when they chose this – it’s a great film about two people getting to know each other. It’s a timeless film that you can go to for a laugh.”

The film follows Neal Page’s (Steve Martin) journey trying to get back to his family in Chicago for Thanksgiving. He bumps into Del Griffith (John Candy), and the pair forge a unique friendship – what should have been an hour-and-45-minute flight turns into a three day trip, in which, everything that could possibly go wrong, does. From being burgled, sharing a bed with a stranger to broken down trains and driving in the wrong direction – the pair endure it all, while also providing us with some hilarious, memorable moments.

“I can’t remember when I first saw it,” the Olivier Award-winning mother-of-two adds, “it would probably have been in the early ‘90s with my husband. I just love it, they say f*** about 30 times!

“And I am so glad it will be on at the Phoenix Cinema, I love it there. Going there is like an occassion – there’s a great atmopshere that you can’t get at a multiplex. Going there is such a pleasure, especially to see an old classic like Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

Currently starring as Miss Adelaide in the Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of Guys and Dolls, Sophie, the sister of Emma Thompson, says that good writing, a good storyline and good acting are important to her.

But what does Albert Square’s most hated baddie make of the soap’s current murder mystery storyline?

“I don’t follow it like I used to when I was in it,” Sophie admits, “it’s not that I don’t want to, I love soaps and absolutely get addicted to them, it’s just finding the time.”

So it looks like there’s no insider gossip on who killed Lucy Beale, we’ll just have to watch it like everyone else.

  • Sophie Thompson introduces Planes, Trains and Automobiles at the Phoenix Cinema, High Road, East Finchley, on Friday, February 6 at 11.30pm. Details: 020 8444 6789, phoenixcinema.co.uk