A month into the Covid pandemic in 2020, a TV drama hit our screens that united us as a locked-down country, and remind us what life was like in a ‘normal’ Ireland.
The series, aptly, was called Normal People, and it was one of the big hits of recent times.
Based on a 2018 novel by Mayo author Sally Rooney, it followed the relationship between Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal), as they navigated adulthood, and landed awards and praise aplenty.
Now, the same writer and producers have come together for this new adaptation, called Conversations with Friends, which stars Cork actor Alison Oliver in the lead role of Frances, a 21-year-old college student who navigates a series of relationship that force her to confront her own vulnerabilities.
The 12-part drama, a joint production by RTÉ and BBC, is based on Rooney’s debut novel, and directed again by globally renowned film-maker Lenny Abrahamson. It was filmed in Dublin and Belfast and Croatiaand will air over six weeks, with two episodes every Wednesday.
Also among the cast are U.S actor Sasha Lane, England’s Joe Alwyn, boyfriend of pop star Taylor Swift, and Jemima Kirke, star of Girls.
In the first episode, it’s the summer before the final year at college, and Frances and her best friend Bobbi (Lane) meet an impressive couple – Melissa (Kirke) and Nick (Alwyn).
Alison, of Blackrock in Cork, a graduate of the prestigious Lir Academy, told evoke.ie she was a fan of the book, Conversations With Friends: ‘I was in my final year of college. I would go home and my roommate at the time was like, ‘You have to read this book’, and gave me her book.
‘I’d already read Normal People and so I was familiar with Sally and her writing and just absolutely loved it.”
Director Abrahamson said: “I feel so excited to be collaborating with four such superb actors to bring Sally’s brilliant novel to the screen. Over the last few months it has been a privilege to get the scripts to a point where we all feel so excited to start shooting.”
Conversations With Friends, RTÉ1, 9.35pm