‘Fleabag’ is pretty hot right now, and the hottest ticket in town last night was Phoebe Waller-Bridge discussing the series at the Southbank Centre. In conversation with the ‘The Guilty Feminist’ podcast host Deborah Frances-White, the talk marked the publication of a new book called ‘Fleabag: The Scriptures’, which features new writing, scripts and behind-the-scenes goss. The pair touched on everything from writing the world-conquering series and success to Waller-Bridge’s convent school days. Here’s what we learnt:
‘Fleabag’ started as a ten-minute sketch at a stand-up night
The global, award-winning series has extremely humble origins, right here in London. Phoebe Waller-Bridge had never written and performed her own material before 2012 when Deborah Francis-White asked her to do a ten-minute monologue at a comedy festival she was organising. ‘It was a really small gig for about 70 people under Leicester Square Theatre,’ said Francis-White. ‘I did a piece about a slutty little pizza that “wanted to be inside of me”’, revealed Waller-Bridge. And ‘Fleabag’ was born.
If it wasn’t for a drunk woman ‘Fleabag’ may never have happened
‘After the gig at Leicester Square Theatre, this hammered girl came up to me and was like, “that was so fucking funny, you need to take that to Edinburgh”. It really changed my life,’ said Waller-Bridge. She developed the sketch into a one-woman show and put it on at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, before turning it into a play and then a TV series. ‘When we took it up to Edinburgh, my team and I kept saying, “we’re doing what the drunk girl prophesied”.’
Andrew Scott added the ‘I love you too’ line to the final scene of Series Two
‘The “I love you too” line was not in the script. I was debating it,’ Waller-Bridge told the Southbank Centre audience. ‘But on set, Andrew said: “I’m going to say it!” When an actor has a feeling that strong people need to hear him say it.’ But there was no alternative ending where Fleabag and the Priest ended up together. ‘I knew it was a grown-up love story that broke our hearts’, she added. ‘It was inevitable that they weren’t going to end up together. For her to end up alone was the right thing.’
A real monk inspired the ‘Hot Priest’
Waller-Bridge had long Skype sessions discussing blasphemous things with a monk called Father William while writing the second series. ‘He was a huge part of the process,’ she said. ‘He was such an open-hearted, brilliant man who found faith later in life. Some moments in the show came directly from things he said.’
Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a new film on the horizon
‘I went to bed on the last day of filming “Fleabag” and the next morning I had an idea for a film.’ She’ll be collaborating on the project with her sister Isobel Waller-Bridge, who wrote the music for ‘Fleabag’. ‘I’ve never been more excited about making something,’ she said. Well, Phoebe, we’re pretty excited too!