BBC to adapt Conversations with Friends from Normal People author Sally Rooney

The adaptation is one of several new dramas heading to the BBC

Sally Rooney

The BBC has announced an adaptation of the acclaimed Sally Rooney novel Conversations With Friends, as part of a slate of new dramas.

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The novel, which was released in 2017, tells the story of two college students living in Dublin who form a strange connection with an older married couple.

The television adaptation boasts Lenny Abrahamson as lead director, who earned an Academy Award nomination for 2015’s Room starring Brie Larson (Captain Marvel).

Conversations With Friends will consist of 12 half-hour episodes and air on BBC Three, where Rooney’s Normal People also found a home and premieres this spring.

She said: “I am so pleased to be working with the team at Element, Lenny Abrahamson and the BBC to produce an adaptation of Conversations with Friends.

“I’m confident we’re going to find fresh and interesting ways of dramatising the novel’s dynamics, and I’m excited to watch the process take shape‎.”

Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, said at an event for Normal People: “We will commission work from Sally Rooney for as long as she writes it. We think she’s such an exciting voice, in the way that she’s able to write about young people’s lives in a really direct and authentic way. Her work speaks for itself, really.”

Meanwhile, BBC One have commissioned My Name is Leon, an adaptation of Kit de Waal’s novel in the form of a one-off feature length special.

Set in 1980s Britain against a backdrop of race riots, the film tells the story of a nine-year-old mixed-race boy who is separated from his family when his mother suffers a severe breakdown.

Director Kibwe Tavares says: “While making my first short film about the Brixton riots and police brutality, I found out a lot about myself and started confronting questions around race and identity that I’d maybe shied away from before.

“Leon was pushed much more violently into this journey at a much younger age… I feel lucky and excited to work with Kit and [screenwriter] Shola in telling Leon’s story. It’s an important one.”

A six-part drama called Chloe is on its way to BBC One too, written and created by Alice Seabright (Sex Education).

The “audacious” thriller follows Becky, a young woman who has an unhealthy social media obsession with a former friend named Chloe.

When Chloe dies suddenly, Becky assumes a new identity to find out more about the circumstances of her passing and who she really was.

Alice Seabright says: “Becky is obsessed with Chloe, and I’m obsessed with both of them. I’m so excited to tell their story. I’m also obsessed with the amazing Tally Garner and Morven Reid at Mam Tor, and would definitely assume a new identity to infiltrate their lives.”

The Responder is a new addition to the BBC Two lineup starring Martin Freeman, created by ex-police officer Tony Schumacher.

Inspired by Schumacher’s real experiences on the job, Freeman will star as Chris, an officer tasked with a series of six night shifts on the beat in Liverpool.

It offers a look at life on the front line of British policing, while Chris faces the pressure of a new partner and his ailing marriage.

Freeman said: “Tony Schumacher’s script for The Responder resonated with me immediately. It felt like nothing that I’d read or seen. Great to work with Laurence and Chris at Dancing Ledge again and finding a home at the BBC has been a wonderful start to the journey.”

Last but not least, BBC Three has commissioned a six-part drama series from Nicôle Lecky titled Superhoe.

Based on her one woman show, the series will star Lecky as 24-year-old Sasha Clayton, who dreams of stardom but has a bad work ethic.

When she is kicked out by her family, she meets a party girl who introduces her to the world of social media influencing, cam work and sex work.

As the series progresses, Sasha will find herself struggling with the growing gap between her online presence and the reality of her life.

Nicôle Lecky says: “I’m overwhelmed and absolutely chuffed to be bringing Superhoe to the BBC. I wrote Superhoe after I stumbled upon a website with the sole purpose to shame women on social media who claimed to be models or singers, but were secretly working as escorts.

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“Social media has truly changed the game for my generation, and after speaking to many young sex workers – Sasha Clayton was created. I’m excited to bring Sasha, her wicked sense of humour and music to the BBC, with the support of the brilliant team at Bonafide Films.”