Phoebe Waller-Bridge has become a household name thanks to Fleabag, a TV show she created and starred in based on a one-woman show. The multi-talented star’s success was elevated further thanks to her work on the hit series Killing Eve. Waller-Bridge is now busy working on a slew of projects including serving as one of the writers on the forthcoming James Bond movie.
While Killing Eve helped her ascent, her deeply personal comedy-drama Fleabag won her initial acclaim.
Season two of Fleabag aired last year both in the UK and America, getting a huge reception from viewers.
The BBC show saw the titular character (played by Waller-Bridge) falling in love after previously using sex to fill an emotional void.
Fleabag fell for the Priest (Andrew Scott) who was marrying her father (Bill Paterson) to her godmother (Olivia Colman).
Season two saw Fleabag in a much better place mentally than her previous incarnation in the first outing. Nonetheless, she was still going on a journey of self-discovery which saw her intense and heart-warming romance with a Catholic priest play out.
The globe fell in love not only with the romance between Fleabag and the clergyman but also Scott. who quickly became dubbed the “hot priest” by social media in endless memes paying tribute to the character.
However, Waller-Bridge recently admitted the “hot priest” phenomenon almost didn’t happen with the writer wanting to avoid writing a love story for Fleabag.
In the end though she was convinced by her producers how this could be an interesting direction to take the character, and the rest as they say is history.
Speaking at a recent BAFTA online panel, Waller-Bridge said: “First, it’s important to say is I didn’t call him the ‘hot priest’, the internet did. Fleabag does [call him ‘hot’] but in the script he was always just ‘the priest’.
“Of all my years of complaining that women in scripts are described like, ‘Sandra, beautiful’ – it was very important to me that he was described as ‘the priest’.”
She went on to explain about the story: “I think I knew early on it should be a love story. Even that took a bit of grappling.
“I remember talking to [producers] Sarah [Hammond] and Harry and Jack Williams early on, who were like, ‘It would be really interesting to see what happens if Fleabag falls in love’.
Waller-Bridge was initially resistant to the idea, saying: “That’s not a story I want to tell.” She later realised it was a “brilliant idea”.
The Emmy winner went on to reflect on penning the script, saying: “I really did know I wanted to see a love story onscreen, that’s something I really wanted as an audience to see it, so that’s always a really good first port of call.
“Then, realising there should be a character that Fleabag can’t just sum up in a quick line.”
Waller-Bridge continued: “She considers herself to be able to see people very, very quickly at their core and it was really exciting the idea of her meeting somebody couldn’t define. She tries to, she says, ‘Cool, sweary priest’ at the beginning and that should have been the end of it.
“Then I wanted to find somebody who could match her intelligence and perceptiveness and then by also making him a priest and a man of faith, a celibate man, just made the whole thing all the more tense for obvious reasons.
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“Every time I was trying to write him, it almost felt like it was too much of a sitcom set-up: a girl who is obsessed with sex in the first season, and it’s her way of validating herself, to meeting a guy who can’t do that.”
She said during the writing process actor Andrew Scott came to mind and it made the whole thing much easier as she thought he made the idea of this story “complex and interesting”.
Their onscreen pairing had fans swooning the world over, so it was welcome news when Sherlock actor Scott recently confirmed at Comic-Con@Home how he and Waller-Bridge would be reuniting on His Dark Materials season two.
The actress will be making a brief appearance as Scott’s soul or daemon which manifests as an Osprey in the series.
The BBC and HBO has yet to confirm a released date for series two but it could be towards the end of the year, if the first outing’s premiere is anything to go by.