It's the book that dominated last summer's recommended reading lists and has since inspired thousands of cool-girl Instagram posts around the world. It's no exaggeration to describe Sally Rooney's second novel, Normal People, as a sensation – it was longlisted for last year's Man Booker Prize, named 2019’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, and entered the New York Times Bestseller list at number three after its US release in April. So it's no wonder the TV rights were promptly snapped up.
Now, we can gleefully reveal more information about the hotly anticipated upcoming series, a production from BBC Three in partnership with Hulu.
It was announced back in August 2018, before the book had even been published (how's that for a vote of confidence?), and today more details have been released to quench our thirst for the international literary phenomenon and young writer, who's been deemed the "voice of her generation" so many times we've lost count.
Will it stay true to the story?
From what we know so far, yes. The book will be turned into a hefty 12, 30-minute episodes, and filming, which starts today, will take place in Dublin, Sligo and Italy – all key locations in the novel. Just like the book, the adaptation will keep tabs on Marianne and Connell as their tender-yet-complicated relationship evolves from the end of their school days in small-town west Ireland to their undergraduate years at Dublin's Trinity College, and show them weave in and out of each other's lives and grow and change as individuals.
When and how can we watch it?
It will premiere on BBC Three and air on BBC One, and will also be available on Hulu. The release date hasn't yet been announced, but it won't be until 2020 – that's enough time for several rereads if you were early to the game.
Who's involved behind the scenes?
Irish Oscar-nominated director Lenny Abrahamson (Room, The Little Stranger, Frank) and award-winning director Hettie MacDonald (Howards End) are sharing the directorial duties, with the award-winning Element Pictures (the company behind the Oscar-winning The Favourite, among others) on production duties for BBC Three and Hulu. Our beloved story of love and friendship is in very good hands.
Who's playing Connell and Marianne?
The big question. "Anyone reading Normal People will have a version of Connell and Marianne in their mind's eye," said Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama. Rising stars Daisy Edgar-Jones (War of the Worlds, Cold Feet) and Paul Mescal (in his first television role) will bring the protagonists' compulsive will-they-won't-they love story to life.
"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. We can't wait to watch them grapple with the issues of social status, social class, covert love, miscommunication and so much more that Rooney handles so expertly in the book. While Mescal is Irish, Edgar-Jones is English, so fingers crossed the accent holds up.
Is Rooney on board?
Happily, Rooney herself worked with writers Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe to adapt the novel for the screen, and she's also acting as an executive producer. She described herself as "a long-time admirer of Lenny Abrahamson’s work," saying it was "a special privilege" to be working alongside him on the project. "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." So are we.