Filming has begun for the remake of Alan Bennett’s critically acclaimed Talking Heads, which initially aired on BBC Television in 1988 and 1998.
Ten of the original monologues will be remade and two new ones, written by Bennett last year, will also be showcased.
Produced by Nicholas Hytner’s London Theatre Company and Kevin Loader, filming will take place at the BBC Elstree Studios using current sets.
The monologues tell stories that are important and timely, all while allowing the actors to perform despite the coronavirus lockdown.
When Talking Heads was first broadcast it was considered to be one of Bennett’s masterpieces and had a stellar cast including Patricia Routledge, Maggie Smith, Stephanie Cole, Julie Walters, Thora Hird, Eileen Atkins, David Haig, Penelope Wilton and Bennett himself.
The monologues were so ground-breaking that they won an RTS Award and two Baftas and have been included on the GCSE and A level English Literature syllabus.
Alan Bennett saw the BBC’s remaking of Talking Heads as a “comfort” and a “huge compliment”.
He added: “I hope a new generation of actors will get and give as much pleasure as we did 20 and 30 years ago."
Bennett’s long-term collaborator and lead director and producer of the series, Nicholas Hytner called Bennett “one of the very greatest writers in TV, film and theatre history.”
He said: “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.”
Controller of BBC Drama, Piers Wenger, said: “Full of insight, wit, daring and compassion, these are stories of individual lives - but of great resonance.”
The Talking Heads monologues will air on BBC One over the coming months.
In alphabetical order:
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 Nicholas Hytner
Lesley Manville in Bed Among The Lentils (1988), directed by Nicholas Hytner
Lucian Msamati in Playing Sandwiches (1998), directed by Jeremy 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 Jonathan Kent
Harriet Walter in Soldiering On (1988), directed by Marianne Elliott