Sunday, July 14

Tag: Nicholas Hytner

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: The Outside Dog – BBC iPlayer
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Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: The Outside Dog – BBC iPlayer

One of the strong suites Alan Bennett has always had is his ability to write convincingly for women. The sort of women a boy from a respectable middle-class Leeds family would have known growing up. When he put these women into his writing they attracted the great and good of acting to portray them. Dames Julie, Thora and Patricia are the ones which spring immediately to mind. They are synonymous with the piece. It is therefore interesting to revisit the work with new faces in the frame. I have seen some of his “Talking Heads” presented with new faces on stage, but we are currently being treated with television presentations, so comparisons are inevitable. It is a testament to the skill of Rochenda Sandall that thoughts of Julie Walters (the original Marjory) are thrown out of the wind...
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Bed Among the Lentils – BBC iPlayer
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Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Bed Among the Lentils – BBC iPlayer

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads are well known for exploring the darker themes of society and the people within it. Bed Among the Lentils is no exception, diving into the alcoholism and infidelity which shape vicar’s wife, Susan’s (Lesley Manville) life. Directed by Nicholas Hytner, this dark, comic piece, particularly explores the role of the church in the sex lives of its parishioners and life behind the closed door of the vicarage. Opening in a tidy and old-fashioned kitchen, we meet Susan, a heavy smoker and heavy drinker, modestly, and somewhat drably, dressed, as she talks about her marriage to local vicar, Geoffrey. Black comedy is present from the start, as she describes Geoffrey’s recent sermon which explained how the institution of marriage gives a licence to sex and having sex ...
Talking Heads by Alan Bennett: The Shrine – BBC iPlayer
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Talking Heads by Alan Bennett: The Shrine – BBC iPlayer

In the new series of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads, ten of the twelve are remakes of five of the original six from 1988 and the another five from 1998.  Two of the original series' have not been remade as they required actors over the age of seventy.   There are two new ones, written last year and filmed this year under social distancing conditions.  One of these new ones is number twelve The Shrine. Lorna is a woman in her fifties and the monologue starts a few days after she has lost her husband Clifford in a motorbike accident.   The police have offered to take her to the scene of the accident, but she does not wish to go.  As the piece continues she has decided to visit the place of the accident and then returns regularly, making herself a seat and...
Talking Heads by Alan Bennett: An Ordinary Woman – BBC iPlayer
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Talking Heads by Alan Bennett: An Ordinary Woman – BBC iPlayer

In 1988 the BBC released the first six short Talking Heads monologue plays written by Alan Bennett. After their first outing on BBC1 they were adapted for radio and in 1991 were broadcast on BBC Radio 4. The second series was released for BBC2 in 1998 so thirty-two years on we will see if they stand the test of time. Sarah Lancashire takes on this disturbing tale which was not part of the original set of plays. Gwen has a daughter Maureen and her 15-year-old son Michael. From the beginning this play is a difficult watch as it focuses on a mother who is obsessed with her son, but not in the molly coddling way mothers can annoy their kids with; she admits that she fancies him! Shocker within the first few minutes sets the tone for the rest of the monologue. She likes to look at her son’s...
Talking Heads by Alan Bennett: A Lady of Letters – BBC iPlayer
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Talking Heads by Alan Bennett: A Lady of Letters – BBC iPlayer

In 1988 the BBC released the first six short Talking Heads monologue plays written by Alan Bennett. After their first outing on BBC1 they were adapted for radio and in 1991 were broadcast on BBC Radio 4. The second series was released for BBC2 in 1998 so thirty-two years on we will see if they stand the test of time. Originally performed by Patricia Routledge, Imelda Staunton has taken up the mantle in this re-make. Produced by Nicholas Hytner and Kevin Loader, the first scene is set in Irene Ruddock’s front room with the quintessentially British net curtains, which you can imagine are regularly twitching. Irene Ruddock or Miss Ruddock (no-one has called me Irene since my mother died), as she prefers to be called; is your typical nosy parker, poking her nose into the lives of others. W...