Sally Rooney’s best selling novel Normal People was not only short-listed for the Man Booker Prize last year but named Book of the Year for 2019, cementing its status as the read of the moment – especially among young women.
Normal People, £10.26, Amazon
In fact, Rooney is often described as the voice of her generation and rightly so. The novelist has managed to excellently depict the millennial experience in Normal People, exploring everything from feelings of uncertainty and angst, to displacement, unusual relationships and social class.
In fact, the book is so relatable, it’s no wonder that it’s been snapped up for a TV adaptation and we (like the rest of the nation) are very excited about it.
— Normal People (@NormalPeopleBBC) January 17, 2020
BBC Three has teamed up with American network Hulu (home of The Handmaid’s Tale) to bring Rooney’s story to the small screen, and she’s involved too. The Irish author is working closely on the screenplay with writers Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe. So, what can we expect to see?
Since Rooney herself is working on the script, it is safe to say that the TV series won’t stray too far away from the original story of the book. For those who aren’t familiar, Normal People centres around its two protagonists, Marianne and Connell – two teenagers from different backgrounds who become unlikely best friends at school in their small town in the west of Ireland.
Together, they leave home and start their lives as young adults at university in the buzzing city of Dublin where Connell, who was well-liked and popular at school, finds himself lost and on the sidelines. Meanwhile Marianne, who was always the outsider in their home town, thrives.
The TV series has been directed by Oscar-winner Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie McDonald, while Rooney has been appointed executive producer.
‘Sally Rooney will be adapting her forthcoming novel Normal People for the channel,’ Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama when the deal had been signed, prior to the book’s release.
‘Sally is fast becoming the voice of her generation and the BBC is thrilled to be working with her on her first piece for television. Normal People is a beautifully crafted story of love and friendship. It was a thrill to read it ahead of publication, and see how she has started to adapt this story of millennial angst for BBC Three.’
Similarly, Rooney added: ‘I feel very privileged to be working with such an extraordinary team on the adaptation of Normal People. I’m looking forward to the challenge of working in a new form, and of thinking about these characters and their lives in new ways.’
She later added: ‘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.’
‘Anyone reading Normal People will have a version of Connell and Marianne in their mind’s eye,’ said Wenger, and he’s not wrong – but who will be playing the all-important leads?
The BBC has confirmed that rising star Daisy Edgar-Jones, who viewers may recognise from War of the Worlds and Cold Feet, has been cast as Marianne, while the role of Connell will be played by acting newcomer Paul Mescal.
‘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,’ Abrahamson said.
When will it be released?
Normal People will launch as a box set on BBC Three on 26 April 2020 and then on Hulu in the U.S on 29 April 2020, so there’s not long to wait.