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Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends release date: Cast, trailer and episodes

The Normal People author's first novel has been adapted into a 12-part series for BBC Three.

Conversations With Friends
BBC
Published: Monday, 16th May 2022 at 3:40 pm
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Following on from the staggering success of Sally Rooney’s poignant television adaptation of Normal People back in 2020, Rooney’s debut novel, Conversations with Friends, has also arrived on our screens.

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The story revolves around university students and former lovers Frances (newcomer Alison Oliver) and Bobbi (American Honey’s Sasha Lane), who are drawn into the adult world of glamorous writer Melissa (Sex Education’s Jemima Kirke) and her handsome husband Nick (The Favourite’s Joe Alwyn).

The accomplished couple quickly drive a wedge between Frances and Bobbi’s friendship, forming a ‘ménage à quatre’ (you can read more in our Conversations with Friends review).

Talking about how Frances and Bobbi’s relationship evolves as the series progresses, Lane teased that she thinks viewers' opinions on the relationship will "shift".

“I think their opinion will change. I think they'll start off with an opinion in the first couple episodes of how they feel about all these different types of relationships and the messiness of it. And by the end of it, they might be like, ‘OK, well…’ I think it'll just shift," she said.

Kirke added: “I think that's true. I think that the book might start out with clear rights and wrongs, goods and bads, and then at the end I think what we really find out is how little we know, how few answers we have and how blurry everything is, which is frustrating. I just know that from reading the book. I don't know how it came across in the series."

Alongside the BBC, the US streaming service Hulu is also 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, serves as head writer on Conversations with Friends. Normal People director Lenny Abrahamson also helms the series.

Conversations with Friends is Sally Rooney's debut novel, first published back in 2017 to strong reviews across the board.

So, without further ado, here's everything you need to know about Conversations with Friends.

When is Conversations with Friends on TV?

Jemima Kirke as Melissa in Conversations with Friends
Jemima Kirke as Melissa in Conversations with Friends BBC/Element Pictures/Enda Bowe

Conversations with Friends is released on Sunday 15th May 2022, appearing on BBC One, BBC Three and BBC iPlayer for UK viewers. Viewers based in the US can watch the 12-part series on Hulu.

The series is co-directed by Normal People's Lenny Abrahamson and Leanne Welham (His Dark Materials).

In April last year, 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."

What is Conversations with Friends about?

Jemima Kirke and Sasha Lane in Conversations with Friends
Jemima Kirke and Sasha Lane in Conversations with Friends Element Pictures/Enda Bowe,Enda Bowe

Conversations with Friends introduces us to Frances and Bobbi, two best friends living in Dublin, who perform spoken word poetry.

The pair 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."

Conversations with Friends cast

The central cast of Conversations with Friends

In February 2021 it was announced that newcomer Alison Oliver was set to play the lead role within the Conversations with Friends cast of 21-year old college student Frances. American Honey's Sasha Lane plays her best friend, Bobbi.

Meanwhile Joe Alwyn (The Favourite) and Jemima Kirke (Sex Education, Girls) play accomplished older couple Nick and Melissa.

Academy Award-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson (Room), who co-directed Normal People, also returned with 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."

Conversation with Friends trailer

The BBC released the first official trailer for BBC Three and Hulu's Conversations with Friends back in February 2022.

The clip gave us a look at best friends – and exes – Frances and Bobbi's relationship as the pair meet exciting older couple Melissa and Nick. Watch below:

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 previously 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.

How the Conversations with Friends TV series is different from the book

Bobbi and Frances standing close and looking at one another in the street
Bobbi (SASHA LANE);Frances (ALISON OLIVER). BBC/Element Pictures/Enda Bowe

Like Normal People, the TV adaptation of Conversations with Friends (executive produced by the book's author, Sally Rooney) remains largely faithful to the events of the source material.

Although much of what's written on the page - in particular character's interior thoughts - can't be shown on-screen, much of the dialogue remains true to the book.

However, there are some minor changes that eagle-eyed fans of the book will be able to spot.

For example, in episode one Bobbi charms a dinner invitation out of famous writer Melissa. However, in the book it's Melissa who instigates the relationship between herself and Bobbi and Frances, after she suggests writing a profile piece about the pair and their poetry.

Join Conversations with Friends stars Alison Oliver and Joe Alwyn, alongside the show's director Lenny Abrahamson, executive producer Emma Norton and producer Catherine Magee, for a special Q&A at this year's BFI & Radio Times Television Festival – book your tickets here.

Conversations with Friends is released on Sunday 15th May 2022, appearing on BBC One, BBC Three and BBC iPlayer for UK viewers. Viewers based in the US can watch the 12-part series on Hulu.

You can order the novel on Amazon. Looking for something to watch in the meantime? Check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Drama hub for the latest news.

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