Paul Mescal

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." 

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.

Paul Mescal to star in Channel 5 drama The Deceived

The four-part drama, written by Lisa McGee, tells a story of betrayal, lust and lies.  

It follows Ophelia (Emily Reid) a student who embarks on a dangerous affair with her professor Dr Michael Callaghan (Emmett J. Scanlan).

Things take a turn for the worse when Callaghan’s wife, Roisin (Catherine Walker), is killed in a house fire, but Ophelia starts to doubt if she really is dead and that she actually may still be alive.