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Jodie Comer, Martin Freeman, and Lesley Manville have signed up to star in remakes of Alan Bennett‘s classic Talking Heads TV monologues.

Imelda Staunton, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Comer’s Killing Eve co-star Dame Harriet Walter have also been cast in remakes of Bennett’s award-winning monologues, which originally aired in 1988 and 1998 with actors including Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Julie Walters, and David Haig performing them.

The BBC said in a press statement that the “contained nature” of Bennett’s monologues – each one features just one actor, as you’d expect from a monologue – means they can be filmed on existing sets at Elstree Studios near London “while following the latest government guidelines on safe working practices during Covid-19.”

Shooting is due to start today with longtime Bennett collaborator Sir Nicholas Hytner (The History Boys, The Lady in the Van) serving as lead director and producer. Lucian Msamati (His Dark Materials), Maxine Peake (The Village), Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty), and Tamsin Greig (Episodes) will also star in remakes, while Sarah Lancashire and Monica Dolan will perform two brand new monologues written by Bennett.

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 first six Talking Heads monologues originally aired on the BBC in 1988, followed by six more in 1998. Several episodes were broadcast in the U.S. on PBS. The late Dame Thora Hird won BAFTA TV Awards for her performances in 1988’s “A Cream Cracker Under the Settee” and 1998’s “Waiting for the Telegram,” which are the only monologues not being remade.

Comer will star in “Her Big Chance,” a monologue about an aspiring actress who takes on a role that’s not exactly what she bargained for. Dame Julie Walters starred in the original version from 1988.

You can check out the full list of monologues being remade below:

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

The BBC has said the monologues will premiere in the U.K. “in the coming months.” There’s no word yet on U.S. broadcast details, though given the level of talent involved, it’s surely only a matter of time before they find a stateside home.

Are you looking forward to the new Talking Heads monologues?

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By Nick Levine