The upcoming BBC adaptation of Conversations with Friends – Normal People writer Sally Rooney’s debut novel – has found its young cast, and has now begun filming in Northern Ireland.
Last week, the official Conversations With Friends Twitter account shared an image of a clapperboard for the first episode of the drama, captioned: “It’s Day 1 of filming #ConversationswithFriends in Northern Ireland! We’re so excited to bring this world to life.”
The cast was announced in February 2021, with newcomer Alison Oliver set to play the lead role of 21-year old college student Frances. American Honey’s Sasha Lane will play her ex-girlfriend, now outgoing best friend, Bobbi.
Meanwhile Joe Alwyn (The Favourite) and Jemima Kirke (Girls, Sex Education) play Nick and Melissa, the couple that throws a spanner into Frances and Bobbi’s friendship.
US streaming service Hulu is now on board for the project, helmed by the same team behind the acclaimed Normal People. “Sally Rooney perfectly and beautifully captures the complicated dynamics of relationships in her stories,” Hulu boss Beatrice Springborn said in a statement.
“After bringing that to life in Normal People to an overwhelmingly positive response, we are honoured to do the same with Conversations with Friends.”
Alice Birch, who co-wrote the Normal People adaptation with Rooney, will serve as head writer on Conversations with Friends. Normal People director Lenny Abrahamson will also helm the series – a very good sign for fans. Rooney will serve as executive producer.
Conversations with Friends is the writer’s debut novel, first published back in 2017 to strong reviews across the board.
Abrahamson spoke to Radiotimes.com about how the new series will comprise 12 half-hour episodes, just like Normal People.
Here’s everything you need to know about the television adaptation…
When is Conversations with Friends on TV?
There’s no confirmed release date for Conversations with Friends just yet.
The series began filming last month and is co-directed by Normal People’s Lenny Abrahamson and Leanne Welham (His Dark Materials).
We’ll keep you updated with any developments.
What is Conversations with Friends about?
Conversations with Friends introduces us to Frances and Bobbi, a creative couple living in Dublin, who perform spoken word poetry. They are discovered by an older woman named Melissa, a journalist who invites them into her home and helps to get their names out.
Frances quickly develops a complex relationship with Melissa’s husband Nick, despite the fact he initially seems the personification of everything she’s against. As they become increasingly involved, Frances sees her other personal relationships spiral out of control – including her long-term connection with Bobbi.
The novel was praised for being an interesting exploration of love and relationships, with a witty sense of humour.
Announcing the adaptation in February, BBC exec Piers Wenger said: “It was a decision that made itself. 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.”
Is Normal People a prequel or sequel to Conversations with Friends?
No, the two books are not directly connected, although they both explore themes of love and strained relationships. The two books also seemingly exist within the same universe, as a “Marianne” is very briefly referenced in Conversations With Friends.
The same core team who made the Normal People TV adaptation at production company Element Pictures will be working together again to bring Conversations with Friends to our screens.
Normal People co-producer Ed Guiney has confirmed he is working on Conversations with Friends alongside director Lenny Abrahamson, who directed Normal People alongside Hettie McDonald.
Speaking to Radiotimes.com, Abrahamson described Conversations With Friends as a “cousin” of Normal People.
“It’s still within that sort of… you can feel Sally’s writing obviously, and there are similarities in how I’ll approach this, although there are also differences,” he said.
Asked if the shows would occupy the same universe, and if Marianne could appear in the background, Abrahamson responded, “Yes, that’s perfect! And Connell could be some moping boy in the background, licking his pencil. Now we’re talking, that’s gold!”
Normal People co-writer Alice Birch will return to write several episodes, with further screenwriters yet to be announced.
Conversations with Friends cast
In February 2021 it was announced that newcomer Alison Oliver was set to play the lead role of 21-year old college student Frances. American Honey’s Sasha Lane plays her best friend, Bobbi.
We also know that Academy Award-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson (Room), who co-directed Normal People, will return for this adaptation.
Abrahamson said: “I love Conversations With Friends, its depth, humour and freshness, and it’s an honour to be involved in bringing it to the screen. I’m particularly happy that my connection to Sally and her work is set to continue. Making Normal People has been a singular pleasure and I’m excited to be working with the same brilliant team again on Conversations With Friends.”