Talking Heads, and the return of Tea!

Tea Time Tidbit for the week of May 4, 2020

Tea Time Tidbit

Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth
in Keeping Up Appearances

This week, I’m happy to announce that Afternoon Tea will be resuming Monday, June 29th! It runs at its usual time of 1:30-4pm weekdays and will feature two back-to-back episodes of Last of the Summer Wine, Keeping Up Appearances and Ballykissangel, which picks up where we left off. As we continue to fulfill our commitment to schools until the end of what would be the normal school year, we thank you for your forbearance and look forward to welcoming you back on June 29th.

Social distancing and shelter in place orders have caused television and live-action feature film productions to be put on indefinite hold. As a result, producers and production companies are having to get creative in their offerings.

Last week the BBC announced that filming had started on a brand new adaptation of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads. The original series was first broadcast in the U.K. in 1988, and was followed a whole decade later by series two. Both series aired on PBS and both starred familiar faces to Afternoon Tea viewers.

Each of the original Talking Heads series consisted of six individual monologues dealing with a variety of topics - death, illness, guilt, isolation – themes which might sound gloomy, but when delivered by the likes of Patricia Rutledge (Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances) or Thora Hird (Edie Pegden in Last of the Summer Wine), or Stephanie Cole (Diana in Waiting for God) or Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton (The Dowager Countess and Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey), they made for delicious viewing. Eileen Atkins and Julie Walters also appeared.

Now, a brand new Talking Heads series is being made and the twelve actors performing the monologues are as impressive as those in the originals. Martin Freeman (Sherlock), Imelda Staunton and Harriet Walter (Downton Abbey), Sarah Lancashire (Last Tango in Halifax), and Lesley Manville (Mom), to name just a few, should all be familiar faces to MPT viewers.

Filming is taking place at the BBC’s Elstree Studios, home to the long-running EastEnders and although existing sets are being used, that’s about all that’s staying the same. According to director and producer Nicholas Hytner, “everyone involved has been working in an unprecedented way, rigorously observing social distancing, entirely rethinking ways of filmmaking that until a few weeks ago seemed routine. 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."

As for Bennett, who as well as penning the monologues, also performed one in the original series, the decision by the BBC to revive his works under the present circumstances, is “a comfort and huge compliment.” Adding that he hopes “a new generation of actors will get and give as much pleasure as we did 20 and 30 years ago."

To contact Heather:
E-mail: heather@mpt.org
Address: Afternoon Tea
Maryland Public Television
11767 Owings Mills Blvd.
Owings Mills, MD 21117