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Alison Oliver and Joe Alwyn are the cover stars of this week's Radio Times

Director Lenny Abrahamson also discusses BBC's hit adaptation Conversations with Friends.

Nick (JOE ALWYN);Frances (ALISON OLIVER) in Conversations with Friends
BBC/Element Pictures/Enda Bowe
Published: Tuesday, 7th June 2022 at 12:01 am
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On the front cover of this week’s Radio Times are the stars of BBC’s hit adaptation Conversations with Friends, Alison Oliver and Joe Alwyn.

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As the latest steamy Sally Rooney adaptation comes to BBC One, the man behind the lens, Irish director Lenny Abrahamson, says the sex scenes aren’t decorative – they’re essential.

The series takes a low-key observational look at relationships among a bunch of Dubliners – and focuses on the intricacies of monogamy, fidelity and sexuality. It follows two Trinity College students, Frances and Bobbi, who become entangled with an older married couple, Melissa and Nick.

Abrahamson discusses why the series and Normal People will always draw comparisons to each other – they’re from the "Rooniverse" – but why that doesn’t faze the Conversations with Friends cast and crew. Plus, he reveals why he cast three non-Irish actors in three of the four leading roles.

Both Normal People and Conversations with Friends refuse to shy away from intimacy – and so Abrahamson unpicks the responsibility he feels when working with young actors (especially following the redistribution of explicit scenes on porn websites that occurred after Normal People was released) and how the sex scenes are reflective of a cultural change in Ireland.

Also in this week’s Radio Times magazine:

  • Paapa Essiedu says despite being friends with Michaela Coel, he was surprised to be asked to audition as her best friend in I May Destroy You. He also discusses his sense of responsibility in playing a gay character and how the pace of change in Black representation on-screen isn’t necessarily reflected behind the camera: "What me and Lennie [James] were also trying to say is that that’s the top layer of the cake. You’ve got to think about what’s happening behind the camera, upstairs in the board rooms, who’s commissioning, all that. The rate of that change maybe doesn’t quite mirror what’s happening in front of the camera. How diverse the opportunities are that I’m getting can sometimes give the [suggestion] that change is happening quicker than it actually is."
  • Sherwood star David Morrissey believes police undercover operations into legal organisations need to be looked into: "We’ve seen undercover operations within criminal and terrorist organisations in dramas like Line of Duty. But the idea that there were undercover officers inside legal organisations eavesdropping on conversations, feeding back information and sometimes having relationships with people without telling them who they really were, is outrageous. And it’s something that we need to really look at, right here, right now."
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