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Alan Bennett found himself laughing at his old scripts ahead of Talking Heads revival

The playwright said that he needed to refresh his memory of some of the monologues in the series.

Imelda Staunton in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads

Alan Bennett has said that he needed to revisit some of his original scripts before the BBC’s revival of his iconic Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads series – and the playwright admitted that he had found himself chuckling at one or two of them.


“I was delighted to hear about Talking Heads, though I didn’t have any idea how Nick [Hytner, the director] was to do them… and I still don’t, though I much look forward to them,” Bennet said.

“I’ve had to refresh my memory of some of them and have even found myself laughing!”

In addition to new versions of 10 of the original monologues, the now 86-year-old Bennett has also written two new scripts – both of which will be aired for the first time.

The new monologues are An Ordinary Woman and The Shrine, performed by Sarah Lancashire and Monica Dolan respectively, and Bennett promises that, characteristically, both of the scripts are “quite bleak”.

“An Ordinary Woman is suggested by Racine’s Phèdre, which I did for my school certificate in 1950 and have always felt a bit of a cop-out,” he explains.

” [And] The Shrine is about one of these makeshift memorials one sees at the roadside where there has been an accident and where people temporarily leave flowers.”

Just like the first time round, the series has managed to attract an impressive cast, with the likes of Jodie Comer, Martin Freeman and Imelda Staunton taking on roles that were originally performed by thespians including Julie Walters, Patricia Routledge and Bennett himself.

And the playwright says he’s very glad with the Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads cast that the producers have managed to assemble – adding that some of them have called him for tips and advice about the meanings of some of the colloquialisms present in the scripts.

He said, “The cast is astonishing and they all agreed at the first time of asking. I hope this is because they liked the scripts (or maybe it was because nobody else was offering).

“Anyway I’m most flattered. And grateful.”

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads begins on BBC One at 9pm on Tuesday 23rd June with a double-bill featuring Imelda Staunton in A Lady of Letters and Sarah Lancashire in An Ordinary Woman. All 12 Talking Heads will be available to stream as a boxset on BBC iPlayer. You can also buy the DVD boxset of the original Talking Heads here on Amazon.


If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.