Theatre News

Alan Bennett's Talking Heads to be remade with Jodie Comer, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton and more

The monologue series will debut later this year

The cast of Talking Heads
The cast of Talking Heads

Alan Bennett's iconic monologue series Talking Heads will be re-made with an all-star cast.

Filming is taking place at BBC Elstree Studios using existing sets, with casts and crews following strict social distancing measures. Not only that – the production will also see the premiere of two new pieces written by Bennett lsat year.

Bennett says: "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 twenty and thirty years ago."

The series, commissioned by controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger, is expected to premiere later this year with casts including Jodie Comer, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Tamsin Greig, Martin Freeman, Lucian Msmati and more. They were first broadcast for television in 1988 and 1998, with the likes of Julie Walters, Maggie Smith and Patricia Routledge attached.

Lead director and producer Nicholas Hytner said: "Alan Bennett's Talking Heads are among the masterworks of one of the very greatest writers in TV, film and theatre history. It has been a profound and fascinating experience to work out a way of making them again, this time with a company of phenomenal actors who are the equal of those who first made them; with a group of leading theatre directors, colleagues and friends of long standing; and with a team behind the camera that represents the best of the British TV and film industries.

"It is a wonderful bonus that two of the 2020 Talking Heads are totally new, written only a short time before the current crisis began. And everyone involved has been working in an unprecedented way, rigorously observing social distancing, entirely rethinking ways of filmmaking that until a few weeks ago seemed routine. The shoot will never bring any of us within touching distance of each other, but I hope that in every other way it will reach out and touch millions of viewers. We are all of us beyond grateful to the BBC for setting us this challenge."

The full line-up of performers, texts and directors is below:

Jodie Comer in Her Big Chance (1988), directed by Josie Rourke
Monica Dolan in The Shrine (2019), directed by Nicholas Hytner
Martin Freeman in A Chip in the Sugar (1988), directed by Jeremy Herrin
Tamsin Greig in Nights in the Garden of Spain (1998), directed by Marianne Elliott
Sarah Lancashire in An Ordinary Woman (2019), directed by Hytner
Lesley Manville in Bed Among the Lentils (1988), directed by Hytner
Lucian Msamati in Playing Sandwiches (1998), directed by Herrin
Maxine Peake in Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet (1988), directed by Sarah Frankcom
Rochenda Sandall in The Outside Dog (1998), directed by Nadia Fall
Kristin Scott Thomas in The Hand of God (1998), directed by Jonathan Kent
Imelda Staunton in A Lady of Letters (1988), directed by Kent
Harriet Walter in Soldiering On (1988), directed by Elliott