Play Hard

Loved TV show Normal People? Prepare for Conversations with Friends…

Written by High Life North
Published 03.03.2021

By Sophie Swift

Here at HLN, we love nothing more than curling up on the sofa with our bev of choice after a long day of working from home. We love this, even more, when there’s a cracking show on TV to get obsessed with.

Last year, that show was Normal People. The 12-part drama was a cult smash – giving BBC Three their best-ever week on iPlayer and receiving over 16.2 million programme requests across the series. The programme became the most-streamed series of the year on the BBC with more than 62.7 million views. Those steamy sex scenes probably only helped, like, a tiny bit.

Well, safe to say, we were some of those 62.7 million watchers. So as soon as we found out there was going to be another TV adaptation of a Sally Rooney novel, we were all ears.



Irish author Sally published Normal People in 2018, but the novel wasn’t her debut. In 2017, Conversations with Friends was published by Faber and Faber. The reason it wasn’t picked up for the first of her screen adaptations probably comes down to the fact that it wasn’t quite as popular as Normal People when it came to book sales.

But, like its successor, Conversations with Friends is set in Ireland and explores themes of love and strained relationships, although the stories aren’t directly connected. Conversations with Friends follows the story of Dublin student Frances, who performs spoken word poetry with her best friend/ex-girlfriend Bobbi and hopes to be a writer after she graduates. When their live act is spotted by journalist Melissa, the girls are invited to interview and soon find themselves in an altogether more glamorous world than what they were expecting to find at university – something that only gets more complicated when they meet Melissa’s husband, Nick.

After their incredible success, the team behind Normal People are now preparing to bring Conversations with Friends to our living rooms too. Director Lenny Abrahamson and writer Alice Birch have already reunited and, although there isn’t a confirmed release date just yet, there has been whisperings that we can expect the new show to air sometime next year.

But while we don’t yet know the ‘when’, we do know the ‘who’. One of Conversations’ leads will be Joe Alwyn – who some will know from period films such as Mary Queen of Scots (2018) and The Favourite (2018), while others will recognise him as Taylor Swift’s beau. Alwyn takes on the ‘handsome but reserved actor’ Nick, and will be accompanied in the drama by Alison Oliver as leading lady Frances. We predict Oliver – a recent graduate from The Lir Academy in Dublin, (the same drama school attended by Normal People star Paul Mescal) – will really make waves in the drama circuit with the role. Frances’ ex-girlfriend, Bobbi, will be played by Sasha Lane, an actress who has previously appeared in Hellboy (2019) and Lewis Capaldi’s Before You Go music video (2019). And Nick’s journalist wide Melissa will be played by Jemima Kirke: an actress best known for playing Jessa in the 2012-2017 series Girls.


What’s that? You want to know more? Sorry gals, we’ve whet your appetite enough now – you’ll simply have to wait until next year!



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