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Sally Rooney’s Normal People TV show: everything you need to know

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Sarah Shaffi
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Sally Rooney first photos

Sally Rooney’s Normal People is being adapted for the TV, in a BBC series that’s being produced by the Dublin Murders team. Here’s everything we know about the adaptation so far.

Author Sally Rooney has been hailed by many as the voice of a generation, and we can’t say we disagree.

In her books Conversations with Friends and Normal People, she’s articulated the feelings of uncertainty and displacement many young people feel today. And she’s also created characters and voices that leap off the page.

So we’re excited to see that Normal People is being made into a BBC show, with Rooney working on the script alongside Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe.

Although we’ve got a little bit of a wait until the show hits our screens, the first trailer for the show has been released, and it looks perfect.

Check it out:

With our appetites well and truly whetted, there’s everything we know about the show so far.

Everything we know about Sally Rooney’s Normal People TV show

Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell.
Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal as Marianne and Connell.

What is Normal People?

Normal People is the second book by Irish writer Sally Rooney. It won the Costa Novel Award 2018, was long listed for the Man Booker Prize 208, the Dylan Thomas Prize 2019 and the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019. It was also Waterstones Fiction Book of the Month for May 2019.

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What is Normal People about?

Normal People follows Marianne and Connell, who strike up an unlikely friendship during their school days in a small town in the west of Ireland which continues into adulthood. Well-liked and popular at school, Connell finds himself on the sidelines when the pair go to university and the usually lonely and proud Marianne finds her footing.

Connell and Marianne.
Connell and Marianne.

Who is in Normal People?

Daisy Edgar Jones (pictured above) will take on the role of Marianne. She’s previously been in War of the Worlds and Cold Feet.

Playing opposite her as Connell will be Paul Mescal (also above), taking on his first television role.

Also in the cast are Sarah Greene, who has been in Dublin Murders and Rosie, and Aislín McGuckin from Outlander, although it’s not yet known what roles they will play.

Normal People
Normal People: Daisy Edgar-Jones (right) stars as Marianne, aka the cornerstone of Sally Rooney’s tale

How long will Normal People be?

Normal People will have 12 episodes, each of them 30 minutes, giving us plenty of time to dive into Marianne and Connell’s story.

Who’s directing Normal People?

Normal People will be directed by Lenny Abrahamson, who directed Room with Brie Larson and Frank with Maggie Gyllenhaal, with award-winning director Hettie McDonald — who directed the 2017 adaptation of Howard’s End starring Hayley Atwell — sharing the directorial duties.

Speaking to The Guardian about the show earlier this week, the production team, including producer Ed Guiney, said the time is right for an adaptation of Rooney’s novel.

“There’s room for different voices in TV now,” Abrahamson said. “You have Euphoria and Sex Education, which are the kind of shows that simply weren’t about 20 years ago. They’re more risqué and audiences can handle that.”

He continued: “The territory is so interesting – it’s a positive account of two young people falling in love. It sounds simple but there’s a lot of cynicism around that kind of material. It’s a look at intimacy in the 21st century and a portrait of a very tender relationship. It’s radical in a sense.”

Marianne in Sally Rooney's Normal People.
Marianne in Sally Rooney's Normal People.

Speaking on an earlier occasion, Abrahamson added: “It’s incredibly exciting to be bringing Sally Rooney’s extraordinary novel to the screen with such a brilliant cast and crew. In Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal, I feel I have found two young actors who can vividly capture Marianne and Connell and bring alive the profound and beautiful relationship at the centre of the story. 

“It’s also lovely for me to be shooting in Ireland again and telling an Irish story after shooting abroad. The film and TV industry here is full of talented and committed people who can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world.”

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Rooney said: “As a long-time admirer of Lenny Abrahamson’s work, it’s a special privilege for me to be working alongside him on the adaptation of Normal People. I couldn’t be happier with the cast and team we’ve put together, and I’m very excited to watch them bringing new life to the story on screen.”

When can we watch Normal People?

There’s no firm air date yet, but Normal People will premiere on BBC Three and air on BBC One in the UK and Hulu in the US in 2020.

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Image: BBC

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Sarah Shaffi

Sarah Shaffi is a freelance journalist and editor. She reads more books a week than is healthy, and balances this out with copious amounts of TV. She writes regularly about popular culture, particularly how it reflects and represents society.

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