Normal People

Lenny Abrahamson on how Normal People inadvertently became a year-defining show for 2020

Lenny Abrahamson on the set of Normal People (credit: Element Pictures/ Enda Bowe)

While we all tuned into Normal People to escape the news, executive producer and co-director Lenny Abrahamson tuned into the news to escape Normal People. Or, at least, he tried to.

"I remember thinking, ‘I'm just going to listen to something really depressing that has nothing to do with arts and culture," he says. "So I switched on Brexitcast, and the first few words were them talking about watching Normal People over the weekend. I just thought, ‘Oh, Jesus!’”

"I didn’t think we’d have a mass audience at all, none of us did." 

Paul Mescal talks mental health, complex love and that famous silver chain

Credit: BBC

The role of Connell Waldron was his first acting credit outside of drama school and the buzz around his performance is still continuing over a year later. 

“To still be in the conversation is really exciting and gratifying,” says Mescal, who was nominated for an RTS Award for his role in the hit series.  

Mescal’s meteoric rise to stardom at the start of a global pandemic is far from the ‘conventional’ way to break into the industry. 

Normal People's Daisy Edgar-Jones talks awkward auditions, literary adaptations and Where The Crawdads Sing

Credit: BBC

With the world stuck indoors, the adaptation of Sally Rooney's best-selling novel was the perfect recipe for a lockdown sensation. It captured the hearts of viewers, before breaking them and putting them back together again. 

Before its television debut, Normal People already had a loyal legion of literary fans, including star Daisy Edgar-Jones. 

Normal People: A lockdown sensation

A year ago, Normal People became the huge TV hit of the first lockdown, changing the lives of its young stars, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, overnight.

The adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel was the BBC’s most-streamed series of last year, clocking up almost 63 million views on iPlayer in the eight months following its April launch.

BBC Three to return as a broadcast channel in 2022

Published last year, BBC’s Annual Plan outlined research that confirmed there remains a broadcast television audience for the channel.

In recent years BBC Three has given the BBC some of its biggest hits, including Killing Eve, Fleabag and last year’s internet-breaking Normal People.

Having recently announced a doubling of investment for BBC Three commissions over the next two years, the BBC says it wants to showcase that content to a wider audience.

RTS RoI find out what went into the making of RTÉ Does Comic Relief

An RTS Republic of Ireland event in late October looked at how the June fundraiser brought stars, including Normal People‘s Marianne and Connell and Fleabag‘s Hot Priest, to the small screen.

RTÉ entertainment producers Clare and Michael Hughes (they are not related) were given just six weeks to get the show ready for transmission on 26 June.

Our Friend in Ireland: Agnes Cogan

Agnes Cogan

The past six months have been a period like no other in Ireland. Our lockdown has been followed by a partial lifting of restrictions that has us bobbing up and down between level two and level three of the pandemic regulations.

The good news is that production has resumed, and it is slightly surreal that Matt Damon, star of Contagion, a spooky thriller about a deadly virus and a global panic, has been spotted pottering about in Dalkey, a small seaside town south of Dublin, where he chose to spend lockdown.

What's new on social media this month?

TikTok screen wipes

TikTok has allowed any of us to become social media famous, with the app showcasing new talent surfacing from viral trends that anyone can participate in.

One of the most popular trends is the #WipeItDown challenge, which shows users as their normal selves in a mirror before wiping the mirror down to reveal a surprising alternative image.

Stars such as Jason Derulo and Will Smith have had fun with the trend. The videos are set to the song Wipe It Down by BMW Kenny and Theelboy.