Talking Heads coming to BBC

London theatre news: Thursday 18 June 2020

Broadcasts - Online - Streaming

Alan Bennett's multi-award-winning Talking Heads monologues have been reworked to air once again on BBC One and BBC iplayer from 23 June.
Text title for Talking Heads coming to BBC One and iPlayer

Fans of the work of Alan Bennett look to be in for a treat as the BBC is soon to air new versions of the playwright's Talking Heads series of monologues that first aired back in 1988 and 1998.

The new versions comprise 10 of the original monologues and 2 new offerings which Mr Bennett wrote only last year.

Filmed under strict social distancing rules, the series is produced for the BBC by Nicholas Hytner (Alan Bennett's long term directorial collaborator) for London Theatre Company.

Broadcasts will start to air on 23 June at 9pm and will be available on BBC iPlayer.

The monologues feature a star-studded cast and top-class directors ...

Jodie Comer in Her Big Chance (1988), directed by Josie Rourke

Monica Dolan in The Shrine (2019), directed by Nicholas Hytner

Martin Freeman in A Chip in the Sugar (1988), directed by Jeremy Herrin

Tamsin Greig in Nights in the Garden of Spain (1998), directed by Marianne Elliott

Sarah Lancashire in An Ordinary Woman (2019), directed by Nicholas Hytner (airing 23 June, 9.30pm)

Lesley Manville in Bed Among the Lentils (1988), directed by Nicholas Hytner

Lucian Msamati in Playing Sandwiches (1998), directed by Jeremy Herrin

Maxine Peake in Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet (1998), directed by Sarah Frankcom

Rochenda Sandall in The Outside Dog (1998), directed by Nadia Fall

Kristin Scott Thomas in The Hand of God (1998), directed by Jonathan Kent

Imelda Staunton in A Lady of Letters (1988), directed by Jonathan Kent (airing 23 June, 9pm)

Harriet Walter in Soldiering On (1988), directed by Marianne Elliott (airing 25 June, 7.30pm).

Alan Bennett said ...

"In such difficult circumstances, that the BBC should choose to remount both series of Talking Heads, and produce two entirely new ones, is a comfort and a huge compliment.

I hope a new generation of actors will get and give as much pleasure as we did twenty and thirty years ago."

Nicholas Hytner, who is also lead director on the project, said ...

"Alan Bennett's Talking Heads are among the masterworks of one of the very greatest writers in TV, film and theatre history.

It has been a profound and fascinating experience to work out a way of making them again, this time with a company of phenomenal actors who are the equal of those who first made them; with a group of leading theatre directors, colleagues and friends of long standing; and with a team behind the camera that represents the best of the British TV and film industries.

It is a wonderful bonus that two of the 2020 Talking Heads are totally new, written only a short time before the current crisis began.

And everyone involved has been working in an unprecedented way, rigorously observing social distancing, entirely rethinking ways of filmmaking that until a few weeks ago seemed routine.

The shoot will never bring any of us within touching distance of each other, but I hope that in every other way it will reach out and touch millions of viewers.

We are all of us beyond grateful to the BBC for setting us this challenge."

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