EASTENDERS fans flicking on to BBC1 next week may think Sarah Lancashire has returned to soaps when they see her in the Queen Vic’s kitchen.
But the actress, who used to play barmaid Raquel Watts in Coronation Street, is just one of the stars in the Beeb’s drama series Talking Heads, which was filmed on the Walford set.
The series was first shown on the BBC in the Eighties and later aired on Radio 4. It has also formed part of the school English syllabus.
Covid-19 restrictions made it hard to build new backdrops, so producers of Alan Bennett’s monologues, which can be seen from June 23, had to improvise.
Killing Eve star Jodie Comer performs in a Queen Vic bedroom, where landlady Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor, once ruled the roost.
Dame Kristin Scott Thomas is in Albert Square’s hairdressers and Imelda Staunton is in Dot Cotton’s living room.
In an exclusive interview, series director Sir Nicholas Hytner said: “Scenes from EastEnders usually involve snogging, fighting or yelling in each other’s faces and that’s against the restrictions, unfortunately. That also precluded pinching mementoes.
“Some of these actors may be dames, but they’re still in showbusiness. All of them who had a chance to do a selfie in Albert Square or in the Queen Vic, they all did it.
“Martin Freeman was thrilled to perform his monologue in Dot Cotton’s bedroom. EastEnders viewers will see we changed some sets a lot, but some we couldn’t change much.”
The monologues are made up of ten that originally aired with different actors, and two newly penned pieces.
Dame Harriet Walter performs in Ruby Allen’s lounge, Lesley Manville is in Phil and Sharon’s house and Maxine Peake is in the Brannings’.
I wonder if any were tempted to try EastEnders full-time . . .
Top Gear trio’s park and rides
Cars are not normally something you would find driving around inside a theme park – but rules don’t apply to Top Gear.
Presenters Freddie Flintoff, Chris Harris and Paddy McGuiness have hurtled back to filming to race electric cars through a maze at deserted Alton Towers in Staffordshire.
They jumped into a Honda e, Mini Electric and Vauxhall Corsa-e to drive near rollercoasters Oblivion and Nemesis.
To make sure they stuck to social distancing when out of the motors, Paddy took along a big stick with a boxing glove on the end.
He said: “I’ve always dreamed of having a theme park to myself, although these aren’t necessarily the circumstances I’d have chosen. Mustn’t grumble though.”
It’s not the high-speed thrill I get at a theme park.