BBC Arts Headlong

New series of digital plays coming to BBC, starring Gemma Arterton, Arthur Darvill and Rory Kinnear

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

The Olivier Award-winning theatre company Headlong have collaborated with Century Films to present a new series of plays, available to watch later this month. Titled Unprecedented, the digital plays star over 50 actors, written by 14 playwrights and 11 directors, focusing on the communities, connections and cultures coming together.

11 plays in Unprecedented will be broadcast on BBC Four from 26th May, with an additional three plays available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

Episode One (Tuesday 26th May, 10pm)

James Graham's VIRAL will open the episode, directed by Ola Ince. The Son's Laurie Kynaston stars in a play following three teenagers as they use lockdown to come up with a viral craze.

Lennie James will perform in Penny, Charlene James' one-man play that follows Ray as he moves into a hotel for the foreseeable future.

A cast of 12 perform in John Donnelly's Going Forward, directed by Blanche McIntyre, centring on an team leader under pressure as he takes drastic measures in online meetings.

Episode Two (Wednesday 27th May, 10pm)

Jeremy Herrin directs Arthur Darvill and Inès De Clercq as a couple who try to maintain their relationship in Romantic Distancing by Tim Price.

Gemma Arterton stars in Anna Maloney's Safer at Home, directed by Brian Hill. The play follows a man as he looks after his pregnant partner, with their relationship becoming unsettled.

A cast of nine including Cecilia Noble and Meera Syal star in the world premiere of April De Angelis' House Party, following a fictional south London street in a virtual drinking session on an online app.

Episode Three (Thursday 28th May, 10pm)

Katherine Parkinson and Alison Steadman star in Duncan Macmillan's Grounded, directed by Jeremy Herrin. The play examines differing attitudes to the virus, and consequences of working too hard.

Based on conversations with NHS workers in the days and weeks before Coronavirus lockdown, Brian Hill directs Rory Kinnear and Jodie McNee in Prasanna Puwanarajah's Fear Fatigue.

Episode Four (Thursday 28th May, 10:30pm)

Deborah Bruce directs her own play, Kat and Zaccy starring Monica Dolan as a mother who wants her son to return home from university.

Matilda Ibini's The Unexpected Expert tells the story of Roxy, as she feels her social care package has been misunderstood during the crisis. The play stars Saida Ahmed, Lucianne McEvoy and Golda Rosheuvel.

Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni play a couple in their sixties attempt to contact the outside world in Josh Azouz's The Night After.

Exclusive to BBC iPlayer

Written and directed by Nathaniel Martello-White, Central Hill tells the story of a couple suddenly in a long-distance relationship, trying to get their hands on sought-after items.

Denise Gough and Sue Johnston star in Chloe Moss' Everybody's Talkin', as three daughters try to keep their mother connected to the family via Facebook and Zoom.

Kae Alexander stars in Jasmine Lee-Jones one-woman play, Batshit. Set in 2021, ceaseless chaos still sweeps the earth, with unsuccessful attempts to control the virus.


Originally published on

Subscribe to our newsletter to unlock exclusive London theatre updates!

Special offers, reviews and release dates for the best shows in town.

You can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy