Author Topic: Talking Heads Remake  (Read 2065 times)

Talking Heads Remake
« on: June 24, 2020, 09:27:01 AM »
So the BBC have gone and remade Alan Bennett's Talking Heads, all 12 episodes are on iplayer now and they're being shown on BBC 1 this week. 10 of the 12 episodes are remakes of the original series with 2 new monologues by Bennett thowrn in as well (it seems they haven't redone the 2 original Thora Hird episodes).

I've watched 2 of the remakes so far, Lady of Letters & Soldiering On and they're pretty good but seem a little bit pointless. Imelda Staunton is fine but not a patch on Patrica Routledge. I'd be curious to know if there were plans to remake this before the lockdown or some bright spark at the start of lockdown thought "Let's redo Talking Heads! We can knock a few of them out no problem even with social distancing!"

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

  • It was with a harpoon gun.
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2020, 09:41:05 AM »
That second one with Sara Lancashire ( shown in real telly time last night) was just plain odd ( you could see the direction it was going in within the first two minutes), but fair play to Bennett for  bang up to date references to youths looking at their phones, and watching porn on their computers, although I would argue that no modern day mum would name her daughter "Maureen". Nice updating of " piss up" to " fuck up" on the one done by top Will Ferrel lookalike Imelda Staunton, too.
I see what you mean about the pointlessness of this venture, but will still be watching these, you can't beat a bit of Bennett writing on the telly.

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2020, 09:59:50 AM »

I see what you mean about the pointlessness of this venture, but will still be watching these, you can't beat a bit of Bennett writing on the telly.

Oh i'm still going to watch all of them, like you said Alan Bennett is always worth watching.

Absorb the anus burn

  • I'll serve raw potatoes at my summer party
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2020, 10:07:20 AM »
Nice updating of " piss up" to " fuck up"...

The original published tele-script had 'fuck up' and not 'piss up' but apparently Patricia Routledge was not keen on dropping an F bomb on the BBC in 1988........ Lady Of Letters is a fantastic monologue and Imelda Staunton did a good job, but the original is so definitive that there was not much she could add to the initial interpretation...[1]
 1. Although I did enjoy Imelda's enthusiastic craft work in the prison and the look on her face when she told us she was happy.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

  • a hopeless vanity... a stupefyingly futile conceit
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2020, 11:25:56 AM »
You can't improve upon the originals, no, but it's always interesting to see good actors putting their own spin on familiar texts.

And I love the fact that Bennett's barely concealed contempt for Mail and Express readers is being broadcast again in a primetime slot on BBC One. I know that's not what all his plays are about, obviously, but he subtly sticks the boot in whenever he can.

chveik

  • LISTEB LADS
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2020, 11:28:33 AM »
You can't improve upon the originals, no, but it's always interesting to see good actors putting their own spin on familiar texts.

yeah that's it. I'll be watching those too.

edit: if you live outside the UK, the episodes are already on the subreddit UKTVLAND

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2020, 12:32:31 PM »
.

Danger Man

  • no lives matter
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2020, 12:46:31 PM »
I have to admit that while watching the Monica Dolan episode my main thought was "She might have played Rose West but she really should play Maxine Carr"

I don't know if there are any Jodie Comer fans on here but her episode is probably the weakest. Though she does do her posh voice.

Alberon

  • His heart is an empty fridge
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2020, 12:53:26 PM »
David Byrne leaves thread relieved.

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

  • It was with a harpoon gun.
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2020, 01:10:42 PM »
I have to admit that while watching the Monica Dolan episode my main thought was "She might have played Rose West but she really should play Tracey Ullman"



FTFY.

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2020, 03:06:43 PM »
That second one with Sara Lancashire ( shown in real telly time last night) was just plain odd ( you could see the direction it was going in within the first two minutes), but fair play to Bennett for  bang up to date references to youths looking at their phones, and watching porn on their computers

See, I thought it was going in a predictable direction. I assumed her son was going to be dead. But that didn't happen did it? Or did I miss it. Certainly odd though.

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

  • It was with a harpoon gun.
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2020, 03:34:55 PM »
Well, the episode began with the mum recounting the tale of the son showing his mum his knob ( or was it his bum? Deffo a naughty area anyway, cos he was concerned about a spot he'd got on there), and her saying a couple of minutes later that he was 15 , but he looked older  so it was fairly plain that he was going to venture into early Ian Mcewan territory, which is an improvement on the " good old, cuddly sexual predators!" theme he had going on in " The History Boys", so fair play to the feller, I say.

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2020, 02:16:42 PM »
Seen the first two.

I really rather enjoyed Staunton in A Lady of Letters, particularly in the second half where she becomes more and more unhinged. The craft table scene was beautifully manic in a way that Routledge's wasn't.

The Lancashire one was odd. I was expecting there to be some sort of jolting tonal shift or payoff that doesn't come. It just felt like it was on tick over once the attraction is established. If you want to invoke something as difficult as incest, you'd better have a very good justification for it and I'm not sure Bennett did.

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2020, 03:37:55 PM »
You know she mentioned a mate who also fancied her own son? What did you make of that? Was that a friend who was speaking jokingly but with that sort of semi-truth to it, or was it a figment of her imagination or what?

As a man, I’m now terrified that women fancying their sons is more common than I previously thought.

neveragain

  • like those swamp tar pits that bubble and go Gloop
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2020, 03:43:45 PM »
I think her friend was speaking jokingly, her comments weren't much more than going 'ooh isn't he a handsome lad' (she did say 'sexy' but I've heard parents say that, always seems a bit inappropriate to me but not creepy).

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2020, 03:48:24 PM »
Yeah, that was my take too.

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2020, 03:53:42 PM »
I think her friend was speaking jokingly, her comments weren't much more than going 'ooh isn't he a handsome lad' (she did say 'sexy' but I've heard parents say that, always seems a bit inappropriate to me but not creepy).

I thought that too, but rewatched this morning and the woman talks about looking at him as he comes out of the bath, which is definitely sexualised in a way that calling him a heartbreaker wouldn’t be

neveragain

  • like those swamp tar pits that bubble and go Gloop
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2020, 04:25:25 PM »
Here’s my comments, having thoroughly enjoyed this new series. Spoilers abound!

Sarah Lancashire’s piece was wonderfully uncomfortable, with top-tier acting (though she may have overdone the northern-ness at points, I never once doubted that she was actually going through this horrible situation.) The scene where she thought the son felt the same way was achingly sad. Relatable too, not the context but deluding yourself that the object of your affection feels the same way is surely something we’ve all done at one point. I hope... It may or may not interest you to hear the basic story comes from a Greek tragedy (that of Phaedra, though my spelling may be wrong.) In answer to Huxley’s comment, I took it as a character piece (as they all are), you didn’t need a massive ‘tonal shift’ at the end – it’s just a look at one person’s psychology and can open up discussion from that.

Monica Dolan’s piece was very well performed (great jitteriness, which she excels at) but – dare I say it – I feel the piece could have done with another draft. Though of course I’m glad to have it right now. For one thing, it was only 25 minutes long and, secondly, in comparison to the other pieces I didn’t get as much of a sense of Lorna’s world as you do with the other characters. Usually the little hints towards their cultural/personal location really give a clear sense of where they are and who’s around them. It also seemed to end abruptly though I suppose she went from feeling nothing to being able to start grieving. Still, lots of nice little moments.

As for the rest, the performances are very strong. I particularly enjoyed Maxine Peake, Martin Freeman (funniest), Imelda Staunton and Rochenda Sandall (so gritty!) who I hadn’t heard of before. They best captured the comedy of the lines while creating original versions of the characters. Tamsin Grieg gets a special shout-out for being perfectly cast as a sad little mouse of a woman. At the risk of mentioning everyone, Harriet Walter and Lesley Manville were bloody good too, Walter adding a bit more depth to Muriel than Stephanie Cole chose to do.

I have some minor issues with Kristin Scott-Thomas, Lucian Msamati and Jodie Comer.
Scott-Thomas was absolutely wonderful, her character was enjoyably vile throughout, but her take on the last scene pails in comparison with Eileen Atkins. Whereas Scott-Thomas took the much easier route of teary embarrassment, Atkins conveys an impressive mix of shock, shame and loss of confidence. She pinpoints that feeling when you’ve had a miraculous chance in front of you but just, just missed it.
Msamati also gives a decent turn as Wilfred. His interpretation of the paedophile is of a meek man, quite bottled up, and as such it’s not as easy to feel connected to his thoughts as you did with David Haig who was much cheerier and more open (which, of course, was more shocking). This episode also made me think about the director a bit too much, with several movements – i.e. suddenly standing up – seeming unnatural and just for dramatic effect. This aside, the direction is relatively restrained throughout the series.
Now, Jodie Comer… She mentioned in an interview that her character gets more aware of her situation in every scene and that really isn’t the case, in fact it harms the point of the episode which is about the film crew taking advantage of her youthful naiveite. Because of this awareness that Comer and the director wanted to display, she tears up in the last scene. This ruins the irony of the ending and, for me at least, the character doesn’t make sense if she knows what’s going on. I can understand, given the current climate, that they may have felt uncomfortable showing an oblivious woman but again the series is about the audience knowing more than the characters. For her willingness to show the character as a bit lost and clueless (as well as a wonderfully daft ‘acting’ voice), Julie Walters reigns supreme here.

The last point I want to make relates again to the ‘current climate’ and that’s the several lines of casual racism (and other isms) that have been quietly snipped out. Some examples:
*Playing Sandwiches – Wilfred’s wife Janet has more to say about Asians being ‘sly’ and that they want your job for their ‘sister, brother, cousin, whatever.'
*Bed Among The Lentils – “the sign said ‘Under New Management’ spelled wrong and something underneath in Hindi, spelled right probably”, the comments on spelling were removed.
*Her Big Chance – one of my favourite lines cut, “Simon’s gay. I usually like them but I think he’s one of the ones it’s turned bitter.”
To me, a bit of prejudice makes the characters more real but there wasn’t much snipping so it’s excusable and probably a wise (possibly prophetic, depending on when they filmed) decision for right now.

Overall, great work and the best outcome of The New Plague by a long shot.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 05:37:33 PM by neveragain »

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

  • It was with a harpoon gun.
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2020, 08:12:59 PM »
Just seen the Harriet Walter one. Well acted, but dull.

Stay tuned for more of my incisive reviews of the rejuvenated " Talking Heads" episodes on this thread.

chveik

  • LISTEB LADS
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2020, 08:45:37 PM »
great write-up neveragain.

neveragain

  • like those swamp tar pits that bubble and go Gloop
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2020, 09:04:23 PM »
Thank you.

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2020, 10:38:13 AM »
I was puzzled by the warning before A Lady of Letters that it was set in the 80s and reflected the attitudes and language of the time (or something). Because a) I couldn't see what exactly the problematic bits were, and b) it didn't seem dated at all to me. Same was true of Soldiering On (these are the only two I've seen) - apart from the Walkman bit at the end, they could both have been set in 2020 as far as I'm concerned.

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #22 on: June 26, 2020, 11:54:38 AM »
apart from the Walkman bit at the end, they could both have been set in 2020 as far as I'm concerned.

I did think that the Walkman did date it to the 80's but then i started to wonder if CDs are allowed in prisons since they could be easily broken and used to do harm to someone.

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

  • It was with a harpoon gun.
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #23 on: June 26, 2020, 12:37:26 PM »
Harriet Walter's character isn't in prison, she's had to downgrade to a smaller gaff and relocate to a dreary seaside town, 'cos her son fucked up with all the top dosh her husband had left her. She spends her days waiting for meals on wheels, and listening to audio cassettes. Not all of Bennett's late middle- aged old dears prattling away out loud end up in the clink, although it would be quite funny if this happened to all of his characters in this series in the end, like if Julie Walters' character ended up in priz on a charge of third degree shagging a rubbish softporn film director, and they started getting incrementally more over the top in the prison setting denouments, so you'd have Dame Thora Hird stood gripping the bars on the wall of her cell window, while dressed in the full prison uniform and cap with all arrows on it, and a ball and chain attached to her leg , while saying " eeeh, that was a turn up for the books.".

neveragain

  • like those swamp tar pits that bubble and go Gloop
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #24 on: June 26, 2020, 03:39:13 PM »
Arrested for falling on the floor without due care and attention.

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2020, 04:46:11 PM »
Harriet Walter's character isn't in prison, she's had to downgrade to a smaller gaff and relocate to a dreary seaside town, 'cos her son fucked up with all the top dosh her husband had left her. She spends her days waiting for meals on wheels, and listening to audio cassettes. Not all of Bennett's late middle- aged old dears prattling away out loud end up in the clink, although it would be quite funny if this happened to all of his characters in this series in the end, like if Julie Walters' character ended up in priz on a charge of third degree shagging a rubbish softporn film director, and they started getting incrementally more over the top in the prison setting denouments, so you'd have Dame Thora Hird stood gripping the bars on the wall of her cell window, while dressed in the full prison uniform and cap with all arrows on it, and a ball and chain attached to her leg , while saying " eeeh, that was a turn up for the books.".

Oh i was talking about the walkman at the end of Imelda Staunton's episode.

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

  • It was with a harpoon gun.
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #26 on: June 26, 2020, 04:47:59 PM »
Oh, I didn't remember her having a walkman, soz. Yer woman at the end of " Soldiering On" did, hence the confusion. Still, least said, soonest mended.

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

  • It was with a harpoon gun.
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #27 on: June 29, 2020, 10:21:33 PM »
Three cheers for Her Who Played Leslie in  the " Her Big Chance" episode, for the stylish aplomb with which she wore those 1988 - era stonewashed jeans.  Not so many cheers for the slightly stilted , staccato " I am acting " delivery of her lines and Julie Walters impression. But back to three cheers for the range of facial tics used, she's quite good at those.
Verdict: acceptable amount of cheers! Hurrah!

chveik

  • LISTEB LADS
Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #28 on: June 30, 2020, 01:50:56 AM »
quite surprised by how good Martin Freeman is in this.

Re: Talking Heads Remake
« Reply #29 on: June 30, 2020, 07:36:43 AM »
The ones I've seen so far have felt like watching a tribute band; The Bootleg Talking Heads if you will. With A Lady of Letters and Her Big Chance it felt as if these were written for Patricia Routledge and Julie Walters and anyone else is just doing a capable cover version. Only Harriet Walter has done as good as (or maybe better than) the original.

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