Some of Britain’s biggest TV and film stars including Jodie Comer, Martin Freeman, Kristen Scott-Thomas, Tamsin Greig, Maxine Peake, Lesley Manville and Imelda Staunton star in a remake of Alan Bennett’s critically acclaimed and multi-award-winning Talking Heads airing this month on BBC First.
The award-winning Talking Heads monologues, starring the likes of Julie Walters, Maggie Smith and Alan himself, first aired on BBC Television in 1988 and 1998, breaking new ground for television and widely celebrated as Alan Bennett’s masterpieces. With Britain’s Covid-19 lockdown putting a hold on much drama production, the self-contained nature of Bennett’s monologues presented an opportunity to remake the originals while following safe working practices and social distancing guidelines. Filmed on existing sets at London’s Elstree Studios – many of them used for EastEnders – ten of the original pieces have been remade, with the addition of two new monologues, An Ordinary Woman and The Shrine, written by Bennett in 2019.
Imelda Staunton – A Lady of Letters – Sunday 18 October, 8.30pm
Set in the 1980s. Irene Ruddock dashes off letters with her trusty fountain pen, complaining about the failures of others. But when the police come by, it’s Irene who is in trouble.
Martin Freeman – A Chip in the Sugar – Sunday 18 October, 9pm
Graham is his mam’s number one. But when they bump into semi-retired Mr Turnbull, Graham discovers she had a life pre-Dad – and fully intends to have another. (Set in the 1980s).
Harriet Walter – Soldiering On – Monday 19 October, 8.30pm
Muriel’s son Giles appears with papers for her to sign. It turns out she is quite a rich widow. But soon there’s a liquidity problem, and Giles could be to blame.
Lucian Msamati – Playing Sandwiches – Monday 19 October, 9pm
Wilfred is a parks attendant. After he befriends a young girl, it becomes clear why nobody can trace his records. (Set in the 1990s).
Sarah Lancashire – An Ordinary Woman – Tuesday 20 October, 8.30pm
Michael is only 15, but you wouldn’t know. Gwen thought there would be something that gave you immunity, that you couldn’t fall for your own child.
Kristin Scott-Thomas – The Hand of God – Tuesday 20 October, 9.05pm
Celia runs an antiques shop. But after she buys a lovely old frame containing the smudgy drawing of a finger, she discovers she’s less of an expert than she thought.
Jodie Comer – Her Big Chance – Wednesday, 21 October, 8.30pm
Actor Lesley prides herself on her professionalism, even if it’s for a walk-on role. She is thrilled to land the role of Travis, who spends the film bikini-clad on a yacht.
Rochenda Sandall – The Outside Dog – Thursday, 22 October, 8.30pm
Marjory hates husband Stuart’s dog, Tina. He takes her out late, comes in at midnight, clothes in the wash, naked to bed and then starts carrying on. Then the police arrive. (Set in the 1990s).
Tamsin Greig – Nights in the Garden of Spain – Thursday, 22 October, 9pm
Rosemary recalls the morning she was accosted by Mrs McCorquodale, who had shot her husband. A friendship began, until Rosemary had to look again at her own marriage. (Set in the 1990s).
Lesley Manville – Bed Among the Lentils – Friday, 23 October, 8.30pm
Susan is not cut out to be the vicar’s wife. When she meets Mr. Ramesh in his shop, she discovers what else life can offer. (Set in the 1980s).
Maxine Peake – Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet – Saturday, 24 October, 8.30pm
Miss Fozzard has a new chiropodist, Mr. Dunderdale, though technically he’s retired. Their weekly appointments soon raise the tricky question of who is treating whom.
Monica Dolan – The Shrine – Saturday, 24 October, 9pm
Lorna visits the spot where Clifford’s motorbike crashed, hoping for some closure. But one day she finds someone else has left some flowers on the shrine.