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Jodie Comer, Martin Freeman to star in BBC's 'Talking Heads' remake

Jodie Comer is working on a new production of Talking Heads for the BBC. File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI
Jodie Comer is working on a new production of "Talking Heads" for the BBC. File Photo by Christine Chew/UPI | License Photo

April 29 (UPI) -- Filming began this week at Britain's Elstree Studios on remakes of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads monologues, which first aired on the BBC in 1988 and 1998.

The new Talking Heads cast includes Jodie Comer, Monica Dolan, Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, Sarah Lancashire, Lesley Manville, Lucian Msamati, Maxine Peake, Rochenda Sandall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Imelda Staunton and Harriet Walter.

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The collection of one-character scenes includes remakes of 10 Bennett works and two new pieces. It is part of the network's effort to provide fresh programming for viewers stuck at home while schools and businesses are shut down.

The network said the actors and production team are following government guidelines on social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Most television and film productions have been placed on hiatus or are being completed through video-conference technology during the global health crisis, which has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide.

"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," Bennett said in a statement.

Director and producer Nicholas Hytner praised Bennett as "one of the very greatest writers in TV, film and theater history," and said remaking Hytner's "masterworks" has challenged everyone involved to rethink film-making and work "in an unprecedented way."

"The shoot will never bring any of us within touching distance of each other, but I hope that in every other way it will reach out and touch millions of viewers. We are all of us beyond grateful to the BBC for setting us this challenge," Hytner said.

The original series starred Bennett, Patricia Routledge, Maggie Smith, Stephanie Cole, Julie Walters, Thora Hird, Eileen Atkins, David Haig and Penelope Wilton.

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