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Talking Heads - The Complete Collection [DVD]

Patricia Routledge , Maggie Smith , Alan Bennett , Stuart Burge    Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
Price: 12.16 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Talking Heads - The Complete Collection [DVD] + Alan Bennett at the BBC [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Patricia Routledge, Maggie Smith, Stephanie Cole, Alan Bennett, Thora Hird
  • Directors: Alan Bennett, Stuart Burge, Giles Foster, Tristram Powell
  • Producers: Innes Lloyd
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 3 Oct 2005
  • Run Time: 429 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006PTYOW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,412 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

The complete collection of Alan Bennett's twelve monologues, which tell the bittersweet tales of 'ordinary, uneventful, desperate lives'. Patricia Routledge stars in 'A Lady of Letters', Maggie Smith in 'Bed Among the Lentils', Stephanie Cole in 'Soldiering On', Julie Walters in 'Her Big Chance', Thora Hird in 'A Cream Cracker Under the Settee', Patricia Routledge in 'Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet', Eileen Atkins in 'The Hand of God', David Haig in 'Playing Sandwiches', Julie Walters in 'The Outside Dog', Penelope Wilton in 'Nights in the Gardens of Spain' and Thora Hird in 'Waiting for the Telegram'.


Talking Heads is a complete collection of Bennett's twelve masterful monologues, performed by the author and some of Britain's leading actors. In these compelling pieces, Bennett displays the wry observation, knowing irony and tender understatement that have ensured his rightful place at the forefront of contemporary writing. The likes of Thora Hird, Patricia Routledge, Maggie Smith and Julie Walters deliver a masterclass in the art of character acting. Also includes Bennett reading his Telling Tales piece.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The author is a genius 28 Feb 2008
Excellent. As a substantial bonus there is a separate disc of Bennett reading/performing Telling Tales-one of his autobiographical works which was new to me and in turns very funny and very moving . All in all an essential purchase for anybody interested in the author and/or good acting.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talking Heads 12 Jan 2010
I have enjoyed these monologues since they first appeared on TV. I could never aford the video collection.
I saw one 'Waiting for the Telegram' over Christmas and was spellbound by it. As a result orderd this collection on DVD.
Excellent value for the best female actors this country has produced.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars subtle, sensitive, superb 9 Jan 2010
I had seen some of the first series of Alan Bennett's "Talking Heads" when they were broadcast in the late 1980s on public television here in the States. They made quite an impression on me, particularly Maggie Smith in "A Bed among the Lentils," and I had always wanted to see them again. I had never seen the second series. Seven of the twelve were produced in New York a few years ago and I was fortunate enough to see them performed by the likes of Christine Ebersole, Frances Sternhagen, and Lynn Redgrave. When I discovered that they were available on DVD in Britain but that I would not be able to play them on my US equipment, I ordered an inexpensive international DVD player just in order to be able to watch them. The "Talking Heads," along with the poignant "Telling Tales," which I had just read, definitely stand the test of time. They are powerful, poignant, and amusing-- Bennett's unique blend of comedy and drama representing epitome of sophisticated entertainment. I don't buy many DVDs but the combination of astute writing and masterful performances in these collected short pieces invites multiple viewings. My only quibble is the sparse packaging: I wish there more notes. I also purchased "Alan Bennett at the BBC" and look forward to viewing and reviewing the various films. I fail to understand why the brilliant Mr. Bennett isn't better known in this country. Long may he live.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slices of Life 17 Jan 2006
Once again a tour de force from the master playwright. Alan takes us from the depths of despair to peals of laughter within the same story. He has an uncanny knack for phrasing and making the most of everyday utterances. The stories are bleaker than in the first series but each one is a masterpiece.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Fantastic ! 7 Oct 2008
By CityBoy
Verified Purchase
I have these on VHS but don't have a video-recorder anymore so I decided to buy them on DVD and watch them again and they have lost nothing as the years have passed. One disc is only in 4:3 ratio, which shows the age of the content, but Julie Walters and Patricia Routledge's performance soon makes you forget that. I think this is some of Alan Bennet's best work and would recommend it to anyone
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and very moving 23 Feb 2010
This is a wonderful set of monologues, brilliantly crafted and superbly acted. They are funny and touching, many will move you to tears as well as laughter. All stand up to repeated viewings.

My favorite is probably the Maggie Smith piece "A Bed Among the Lentils" where she runs the gamut from world-weary resignation to snide disdain to moments that choke me up just to think about. Thre's an amazing bit right near the end where her lips quiver ever so slightly, her eyes do something I can't describe and her voice barely trembles - you know she's crying on the inside and trying to maintain a facade. Superb acting!

The whole set is of this caliber, though. Patricia Routledge (who I associated with rather broad comedy due to Violet Bucket) does some truly marvelous work here too.

The pieces are all quite rich - there's always some starting premise to draw you in, but unsuspected layers gradually emerge and by the end of each monologue you've witnessed a fully fleshed-out story with well-rounded characters and surprising relationships. The sheer artistry of Bennett's work here is amazing (it reminds me a bit of Ruth Draper)

In addition you get Telling Tales - some wonderful autobiographical stories from Bennett himself - all at a bargain price.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 7 Feb 2006
I bought this for my mum, and I've had the opportunity to hear some of the monologues while she watched it. Though I may not be well-versed in which actors were responsible, the letter-writing lady and old Doris complaining about her home help were amusing, involving and moving at the same time. The scripts were delivered with grace, subtlety and a complex understanding of the characters behind them. Encore.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing collection 20 Dec 2012
By K. Gordon TOP 500 REVIEWER
Verified Purchase
This 3 DVD set combines author Alan Bennett's wonderful 6 part series of monologues for the BBC called "Talking Heads" which
aired in 1988, the sequel of another six monologues done ten years later, called (not very imaginatively) "Talking Heads 2", and a
series of short monologues performed by Bennett himself about his youth, called "Telling Tales", which aired in 2000.

The two "Talking Heads" series have the same basic format; the pieces range from 25 to 40 minutes These wonderful character
sketches are very simply done. The actors speak directly into the camera, in very basic sets that look designed more for stage,
than film. No pretense of naturalistic reality here.

In the first series, there are 5 pieces for women, all performed by some of the best actresses around; Maggie Smith, Thora Hird.
Patricia Routledge, Julie Walters and Stephanie Cole. The lone piece for a male is performed by Bennett himself, who acquits
himself quite admirably. I usually think of him as a writer first, actor second, but he does a terrific and touching job performing
as well. It's especially wonderful to see Maggie Smith getting to play a character so subtle and understated. While she has always
had tremendous range, in recent years much of what she has done has been on the broader side. So being reminded of just how
powerfully quiet she can be is a treat.

In "Talking Heads 2" , once again there are 5 female and 1 male character in the group. And once again the acting is at a very
high level, bringing these works to touching, funny, and occasionally very disturbing life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Always was and always will be one of the best
Ever since I saw this series on TV many many moons ago I was mesmerized.
I bought the book that came out after the series and watched anything and everything to do with Alan... Read more
Published 8 days ago by monika mayer
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant beyond words
Brilliant beyond words, though I know Alan Bennett could find the words to put across how absolutely memorable and mesmerising his writing is (though he is too modest to do so). Read more
Published 25 days ago by Maggie G
5.0 out of 5 stars Incomparable
Perfection, of its type. Can't praise it enough. Will Talking Heads ever be equalled? I doubt that it can be.
Published 28 days ago by Alan J Sharp
5.0 out of 5 stars Talking heads
A great DVD I loved humour and the thought provoking stories each one deserves top marks. Alan Bennett always does great things.
Published 2 months ago by Tiger
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift
I had this sent to a friend as a gift with Alan Bennett at the BBC DVD. She was delighted with it and now has both for her collection of favorite DVDs easy way to solve the gift... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. M. A. MacDonald-Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterclasses in acting
Brilliant writing by Bennett combined with stellar performances from all - but particularly the wonderful Patricia Routledge - make this unmissable viewing.
Published 2 months ago by marylou
5.0 out of 5 stars His best work yet and that's saying something
Every single episode is a masterpiece .I have watched every disc again and again .
Everything Alan Bennet does is a work of art
Marguerite Kiama NSW
Published 2 months ago by marguerite davies
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
I am a great fan of Alan Bennett and remember these sketches when they were first shown.First rate acting, too.
Published 3 months ago by Cicely Hollingsworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Wonderful, unique Alan Bennett stories read by the cream of our British actors. The monologues are memorable and will make you laugh and cry.
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. Pauline Maria Cade
5.0 out of 5 stars Talking heads
Really good content. Well acted and thoroughly enjoyable watch as well as being thought provoking. Would recommend to anyone thanks
Published 3 months ago by Ann Dixon
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