Horrified viewers said they were left ‘heaving’ after watching Lucian Msamati’s ‘chilling’ portrayal of a paedophile who tries to justify his crimes after abusing a young girl in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads last night
The actor, 44, plays Wilfred, a groundskeeper who tries to justify sexually abusing a little girl he met while in the park’s grand stand.
Msamati’s monologue is one of two new pieces of writing in the reworked
One commented: ‘OMG how brilliant is Lucian Msamati at making you want to heave and cover your ears, so disgustingly horrible as he slides us to the depths of living hell.’
Horrified viewers were left ‘heaving’ after watching Lucian Msamati portray a paedophile in last night’s Talking Heads
Another added: ‘Excellent and chilling.’
Filmed on the set of EastEnders, the monologue is one of ten that feature in the new Talking Heads series. Bennett, 85, is one of the UK’s most famous living playwrights and first aired the Talking Heads series, then a collection of six playlets each written for a single actor, in 1988 to critical acclaim.
Ten years later, six more followed and lockdown has sparked a third series, with the BBC inspired by a need for TV drama that can be filmed within the constraints of social distancing.
In the monologue, which aired last night, Msamati’s character Wilfred begins by divulging his love of sweets while working in his local park and picking up rubbish.
Social media users were left stunned by his ‘chilling’ performance in the BBC show, with many calling the show ‘terrible’ but ‘brilliant’
But it slowly emerges that his records for previous jobs, including that of a lollipop man, can’t be traced.
Meanwhile at a loved-one’s Christening, Wilfred explains how his wife warned him not to give licorice all-sorts to children.
And later, he explains how he meets a young girl and her mother in the bandstand, and befriends the pair.
In one scene, Wilfred, who frequently looks directly into the camera, recounts a conversation he had with the youngster while alone where she ‘kept trying to hold his hand.’
During the half-hour monologue, Lucian portrays Wilfred, a park attendant and details how he built a relationship with a mother and her child in the local band stand
Later, he describes how he ‘took her into the bushes’ while speaking in the corridor of a police station.
And, in the final scene, he tries to justify his crimes, explaining she ‘had wanted to show him a dance’ and how ‘he thought it was what she wanted.’
The horror turn shocked viewers who weren’t familiar with the show, and they praised Lucian for luring them into a false sense of security.
Social media users were stunned by the acting on the programme, with one commenting: ‘Blimey, some of these #TalkingHeads are heavy aren’t they…Sarah Lancashire and Lucian Msamati – both phenomenally acted and so disturbing!’
Another wrote: ‘I love Lucian Msamati – brilliant actor. Tonight’s Talking Heads performance was gripping. Loved him in ‘Amadeus’ and ‘Master Harold and The Boys’ as well.’
In one uncomfortable scene, he describes how he plans to buy sweets from the shop in order to give to the little girl
One commented: ‘Wonderful acting by Lucian Msamati in Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads on BBC. Tough stuff. I feel exhausted just watching.’
Filmed while adhering to social distancing during lockdown, the episodes land on the BBC iPlayer today and will air on BBC One in the coming weeks.
Jodie Comer, who also stars in one of the episodes, says admitted filming Talking Heads in one day during lockdown was the ‘hardest thing she’s ever done’.
The Killing Eve star, 27, from Liverpool, plays aspiring actress Lesley in the latest TV dramatisation of playwright Alan Bennett’s monologues.
And later, the actor is seen in a corridor of a police station as he details taking the little girl ‘into the bushes’
Having been forced to abandon filming Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, Jodie snapped up the opportunity to join the Talking Heads cast, which also boasts Kristin Scott Thomas, Harriet Walter, Martin Freeman and Imelda Staunton.
Speaking to British Vogue, Jodie admitted that performing her monologue Her Big Chance – directed by former head of the Donmar Warehouse Josie Rourke and set in the Eighties – was ‘without a doubt, the hardest thing I’ve ever done’.
As well as having to do all her own hair and make-up, Jodie only had three weeks to learn her lines and get performance ready via Skype rehearsals.
The latest version of Bennett’s long-running series features two new monologues and a re-working of older material. Currently airing on BBC One and the Iplayer, the show features a stellar cast including Imelda Staunton and Jodie Comer
‘We shot it in a day and there was only one person on set with me at any given time,’ she told the publication. ‘It was completely silent apart from me talking. All day down the barrel of the lens.’
Jodie added that the main challenge was shooting every scene in a single take.
‘If ever I fluffed a line, I had to take a deep breath and go back to the beginning,’ she explained.
Jodie Comer has admitted filming Talking Heads in one day during lockdown was the ‘hardest thing she’s ever done’. Pictured as aspiring actress Lesley in Her Big Chance