Talking Heads is interesting, our first TV show produced during the pandemic. It’s great to see that really good quality television can still be produced. The original show aired in the 1980s, written by the legendary Alan Bennett, with each episode featuring a series of monologues by a single character.
The new adaption features amazing performances by Imelda Staunton and Tasmin Greg, but the stage is stolen by Martin Freeman, who plays not just Graham, but of course Bennett himself. It’s rare that a cast full of recognisable faces (at a push, star-studded) results in a good production, but the structure really lends itself to big faces. Nobody can fade into the background when there’s only one character in each episode.
A lot of the episodes are geared with slightly uncomfortable themes
Like anything written by Alan Bennett, it hasn’t aged at all. Bennett was wonderfully observant about the British people, our sensibilities, and our flaws. Some aspects are even more poignant, like our struggle to talk about mental health. Some episodes provide a very interesting way that we can look at the flaws in the behaviour of our grandparent’s generation, especially at a time where there is such a divide on social issues between older and younger people.
Of course, after a couple of episodes in a row, it does get a bit heavy. A lot of the episodes are geared with slightly uncomfortable themes, and you can see where they’re going from pretty early on, so it sometimes feels like a slow-motion car crash. Of course, this is Bennett’s style, and it does work, but it is something worth pointing out. Most of the jokes in the slightly funnier episodes land well, especially in ‘Her Big Chance’, where Jodie Comer’s character, Lesley’s, private life is more sexual than the porn she turns out to be starring in.
I would recommend that you watch this, simply for the reasons that Bennett is generally excellent and this adaption has certainly not let him down. Also, it’s great to see a production filmed during the pandemic, and gives you a boost of confidence that, in the end, it’s all going to be okay.
Last modified: 25th June 2020