Jodie Comer, Maxine Peake and Sarah Lancashire to feature as BBC brings back Talking Heads

David Prior's picture

Jodie Comer, Maxine Peake and Sarah Lancashire are among the stars who are set to feature in a new series of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads monologues.

Bennett has written two new monologues for the 12-part series, which is currently being filmed at Elstree studios in London, and 10 scripts from the original series will be re-filmed with some of the UK’s best-known actors.

Others who are set to star in the series - which was first shown on the BBC in 1988 and 1998 - include Martin Freeman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lesley Manville and Imelda Staunton.

Bennett said: “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 20 and 30 years ago.”

The new series will be produced by Nicholas Hytner and Kevin Loader, with the monologues to be aired “in the coming months”.

“Covid-19 has laid waste to drama production in the UK, but it has also posed a challenge: how do we adhere to restrictions while still offering British viewers the chance to lose themselves in great stories at this time of national need?” said the BBC's Controller of BBC Drama, Piers Wenger.

“Full of insight, wit, daring and compassion, these are stories of individual lives – but of great resonance. I am so grateful to Alan, Nicholas Hytner, Kevin Loader and the whole team for the caution, ingenuity and wisdom which they have shown in bringing these stories to the screen.”

The full list of new Talking Heads monologues are:

  • 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