Alan Bennett’s iconic Talking Heads is being revived for a new series, starring the likes of Martin Freeman and Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer.
The BBC is bringing back playwright Bennett’s monologue series, which first aired back in the 1980s and featured the likes of Oscar winner Maggie Smith. The acclaimed series was followed up with a second outing, airing in the 1990s.
Now the likes of Jodie Comer, Imelda Staunton, Tamsin Greig and The Hobbit star Martin Freeman will take on the familiar roles – while Bennett has also penned two brand new monologues for the occasion: : The Shrine and An Ordinary Woman.
Bennett said of the revival, “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 20 and 30 years ago.”
Read on for everything you need to know about BBC One’s Talking Heads.
When is Talking Heads on TV?
The series will begin on BBC One from 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 dramatic monologues will also be made available to stream as a boxset on BBC iPlayer, while also continuing to air on BBC One over the following fortnight.
Talking Heads cast: Who stars in the revival?
The starry line-up includes: Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer as an aspiring actress in “Her Big Chance” (a role originated by Julie Walters); Tamsin Greig in “Nights in the Garden of Spain” (originated by Penelope Wilton); The Crown’s Imelda Staunton in “A Lady of Letters” (originated by Patricia Routledge); and Martin Freeman, who will play a middle-aged man in “A Chip in the Sugar” (which was originated by Bennett himself).
The full cast also includes: Lesley Manville, Sarah Lancashire, Monica Dolan, Lucian Msamati, Maxine Peake, Rochenda Sandall, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Harriet Walter.
Talking about filming remotely, Comer – best known for playing assassin Villanelle on Killing Eve – revealed that the stillness of working in an empty set “threw” her initially, as she was used to noisy film sets.
“The biggest adjustment was the stillness. Usually on set there is a lot of chaos and noise, but as there were less people on set due to social distancing rules, it was very peaceful. This took some getting used to.”
She added, “Normally you have to zone yourself out of the noise to focus, but it was so quiet which threw me off balance to begin with.”
Meanwhile, Black Panther actor Martin Freeman opened up about the challenge of playing a character that Bennett himself had previously played.
“Doing Alan’s monologue [‘A Chip in the Sugar’] was a little intimidating,” he said, “and also a huge honour that I was being trusted with it. To be approved of by Alan, who I don’t know, is something I wish I could have told my Mum. I knew some of the monologues better than others; I remembered snippets of Alan’s but not too much, I’m glad to say!”
He continued, “The first thing I said to Jeremy was ‘well, I’m not going to outdo Alan Bennett, am I?’ We knew we had to treat it as a new piece of writing, and not be swayed by the folk memory of the original performance.”
Is there a trailer for Talking Heads?
Not yet, but we’ll keep this page updated, so keep checking in for new images, clips, and trailers.
The twelve-part Talking Heads revival will begin on BBC One from 9pm on Tuesday 23rd June. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.