An Ordinary Woman is the second of 12 episodes based on the original Alan Bennett scripts, but with new actors. This is also one of two episodes with brand new scripts.
It begins with Gwen (Sarah Lancashire – Kiri) pausing whilst doing the washing, recalling how her 15-year-old son asked her to look at a spot in a ‘certain area’ about his person, and she tells us how she saw something more pertinent.. that she hasn’t seen for some years, and now how different it looks.
As the billing for this episode states, although she can’t help it, she thinks she’s falling in love with her own son.
Along the way, she talks about helping him learn to drive on an abandoned aerodrome – and in a tense moment, grabs his leg slightly, and amongst the hullabalo thinks, “He looks more than 15…”
Elsewhere, recalls a conversation which leads to him taking his shirt off, and she admires his “lovely skin“. However, you can sense the feeling of regret in her eyes at not being able to do anything about it, whilst also including a sense of guilt.
As a topic, it does feel a bit disturbing, especially when she ponders how can she have these feelings when… she’s just ‘an ordinary woman’?
Sarah Lancashire puts on a fantastic performance, with a number of one-take scenes – something you get a lot with this series, which shows the talent on display.
At 36 minutes, it goes on a little too long, but then as we’ve seen with those episodes based on original scripts, they wouldn’t necessarily have stuck to the 30-minute limit that a lot of short dramas do these days. Everything has to run to time, and often to coincide with other broadcasters, hence when BBC1 broadcast series 3 of Killing Eve, and since it was just 45 minutes per episode, they put it out at 9.15pm so it met the 10pm news on time. As such, all the other major terrestrial broadcasters moved their programme timings so they also hit the same junction of 9.15pm.
An Ordinary Woman: Talking Heads is on BBC1 on Tuesday June 23rd at 9.30pm, but is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
However, you can also the Original Talking Heads series on DVD.
From Tuesday June 23rd, the entire series will be on the BBC iPlayer.
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: Alan Bennett
Irene Ruddock: Sarah Lancashire
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.