Irritated by a dismissive use of the phrase "talking heads" to describe the most boring parts of the schedule, Alan Bennett set out to restore the monologue – which had become associated with music hall or stand-up com...展开edy – to the heart of TV drama. Patricia Routledge as a dying office busybody in A Woman of No Importance (1982) was effectively a pilot for two later series of six, which included Maggie Smith as an incredulous vicar's wife and Thora Hird as two differently stricken widows. With rare and economic shifts of perspective, the direction focused attention on the actor's face and voice and the author's extraordinary ear for the shading and shaping of an anecdote. Playing Sandwiches, in which David Haig portrays a park-keeper, begins on a deceptive note of Bennettian nostalgia – "I was in the paper shop this dinnertime getting some liquorice allsorts" – but develops into a daring attempt to enter the head of a paedophile. In an era when senior actresses have complained about the shortage of decent parts, Bennett provided 11 peak-time roles for older women. By 2008, when EastEnders gave Dot Cotton a solo episode indebted to Talking Heads, it was clear how right the quietly pioneering Bennett had been to ignore television prejudice.