Sally Rooney fans, we just got our first look at Frances in Conversations With Friends

Calling all Normal People fans: a new BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s first novel, Conversations With Friends, is underway – and we just got our first official look at its star.

Updated on 20 December 2021: If you’ve been waiting impatiently for word about the forthcoming adaptation of Conversations With Friends, we come bearing good news.

The BBC has just released the first official image of Alison Oliver as Frances in the BBC’s new drama, which brings to life Irish literary sensation Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel about a 21-year-old college student as she navigates a series of relationships.

Conversations With Friends: Alison Oliver as Frances in the BBC’s upcoming adaptation of the Sally Rooney novel

Newcomer Oliver (above as Frances) will star opposite Joe Alwyn (Mary Queen Of Scots) as Nick in the adaptation of Rooney’s novel. The ensemble also includes Sasha Lane (American Honey) as Frances’ best friend Bobbi and Jemima Kirke (Sex Education).

Updated on 28 April 2021:

Filming has started on the BBC Three adaptation of Sally Rooney’s debut novel, Conversations With Friends

The official Twitter account for the series shared a first behind-the-scenes photo of the production, writing alongside it: “It’s day one of filming #ConversationswithFriends in Northern Ireland! We’re so excited to bring this world to life.”

Joe Alwyn, who stars in the series, later shared the update on his Instagram Stories.

Here’s everything we know about the adaptation so far…

Original article from 18 February 2021:

Last year’s hit TV series, Normal People, was the kind of compulsive, brilliantly told coming-of-age drama that gets under your skin and stays there for weeks to come. 

The BBC’s adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel was the talk of the TV world, opening up the author’s deceptively simple storytelling to a whole new legion of fans.

A stellar cast led by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal teased out elements of love, hurt, friendship and desire layered within Rooney’s story, to create an unmissable TV fix.

That’s why fans have welcomed the news that Rooney’s first novel, Conversations With Friends, is also getting the BBC Three treatment. 

The award-winning novel, which was published in 2017,  quickly secured Rooney’s reputation as “the first great millennial author” and the “voice of a generation”.

Conversations with Friends is not related to the storyline of Normal People at all, but both explore similar themes of love, hurt, friendship and desire. So we know that it’s going to work just as well on screen as its sister story.

Here’s everything we know about the series so far…

Sally Rooney’s first novel Conversations With Friends won rave reviews

What is Conversations with Friends about?

Conversations with Friends tells the story of two college students – Frances and Bobbi – living in Dublin, who form a complicated connection with an older married couple called Nick and Melissa. Despite their obvious differences, the foursome quickly embark on a “complex ménage-à-quatre” that’s played out in a world of glamorous dinner parties, beautiful homes and holidays to Provence.  But the strange new dynamic quickly shines a light on vulnerabilities no-one saw coming. 

Rooney wrote the book while studying for her master’s degree in American literature. Published in 2017 to rave reviews after a seven-party auction for the publishing rights, it was nominated for the 2018 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize and the 2018 Folio Prize.

Is there any link between Normal People and Conversations with Friends?

No, the storyline of Conversations with Friends is not related to Normal People, although both come with the imprint of Rooney’s inimitable storytelling style. 

Normal People co-producer Ed Guiney says this upcoming adaptation will come in the place of a sequel to our 2020 TV obsession. 

“We’ve turned our attention – we’re adapting Conversations with Friends as a television series,” he said in a recent interview, adding that “maybe down the line we’ll come back to Connell and Marianne [from Normal People]”.

Conversation With Friends picks up on a separate storyline to Normal People, although it explores similar themes

Who will star in Conversations with Friends?

The cast is exciting to say the least. Alison Oliver, an emerging actor from Lir Academy (whose graduates include Normal People’s Mescal) will play Frances. Sasha Lane (The Miseducation of Cameron Post) will star as Bobbi. 

Rounding off the cast is Joe Alwyn (The Favourite, Mary Queen Of Scots ), who will play Nick and Jemima Kirke (Sex Education, Girls), who is set to star as Melissa.

Joe Alwyn stars in Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney.

Who will direct Conversations with Friends?

Conversations with Friends will run under Element Pictures, the same production company that took the helm for Normal People. Lenny Abrahamson, who co-directed the hit BBC drama along with Hettie Macdonald, will once again take the director’s seat for the new series.  He previously earned an Oscar nomination for 2015’s Room (starring Brie Larson),

“I love Conversations with Friends, its depth, humour and freshness, and it’s an honour to be involved in bringing it to the screen,” Abrahamson said. “I’m particularly happy that my connection to Sally and her work is set to continue. Making Normal People has been a singular pleasure and I’m excited to be working with the same brilliant team again on Conversations with Friends.”

Conversations With Friends author Sally Rooney says she’s excited to see the new TV series take shape.

Speaking about the production, Rooney added: “I am so pleased to be working with the team at Element, Lenny Abrahamson and the BBC to produce an adaptation of Conversations with Friends.

“I’m confident we’re going to find fresh and interesting ways of dramatising the novel’s dynamics, and I’m excited to watch the process take shape‎.”

When and where will Conversations with Friends be released?

Conversations with Friends will consist of 12 half-hour episodes and air on BBC Three, but we’ll have to wait for a release date. 

It’s a good job we have Normal People to binge again in the meantime (you know you want to).

Images: Getty, BBC, Faber & Faber, Hulu

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