An evil godmother who Fleabag’s titular anti-heroine cheerfully describes as a “c***” is not a character you might typically associate with our beloved national treasure Olivia Colman, which begs the question: how did she get the part?
Lydia Hampson, who produces Phoebe Waller Bridge’s BBC3 comedy and is one of 2017’s BAFTA Breakthrough Brits, has revealed that Colman actually befriended Waller Bridge years ago on the set of the 2011 film The Iron Lady, when she requested that Waller Bridge write her into one of her future projects.
“Olivia had said to Phoebe, ‘If you ever write anything please tell me, I’d love to be in it,’” said Hampson.
“Phoebe told me that and I was like, ‘Oh my god! What could she be?’ In the original play version the godmother is literally just a presence at the top of the stairs, she doesn’t have any words, she’s not in it at all.
“So Phoebe kind of wrote up this idea of a godmother character that has a much larger role and Olivia, I believe, had said, ‘I’d love to play a real bitch.’ And so Phoebe was like, ‘I’ve got it!’”
Fleabag is returning for a second series in 2019, but it’s not yet known if Colman and the rest of the original cast will reprise their roles. Hampson couldn’t reveal any plot details, as Waller Bridge isn’t due to start writing until January…
Speaking at the Edinburgh Intl. Television Festival, Waller-Bridge said: “Series 2 will be a whole new adventure and I’m beyond thrilled to be coming back.” She originally confirmed plans for a second season in March.
“The first season of ‘Fleabag’ introduced audiences to the brilliant and rebellious voice of Phoebe Waller-Bridge,” said Joe Lewis, head of comedy, drama and VR at Amazon Studios in a statement. “She’s one of the best and most dynamic showrunners in TV today and we’re so excited to bring a new season of the smart and hilarious ‘Fleabag’ to customers soon.”
The international hit comedy, which was adapted from Waller-Bridge’s award-winning stage play, was nominated for six BAFTA Television Awards in May, with Waller-Bridge beating out her co-star Olivia Colman to win for best female performance in a comedy program.
The actress and writer will next be seen opposite Margot Robbie and Domnhall Gleeson in Simon Curtis’ biopic of “Winnie the Pooh” author A.A. Milne, “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” and is currently shooting LucasFilm’s untitled Han Solo “Star Wars” film. She also wrote and is executive producer on BBC America’s 2018 thriller series “Killing Eve,” starring Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, which began shooting in Europe this week.
“’Fleabag’ signaled the arrival of a hugely distinctive writer with the mesmerizing performing talent to match,” said Shane Allen, controller of comedy at the BBC, who was in conversation with Waller-Bridge in Edinburgh on a panel discussing the show’s creation. “Phoebe’s career has shot up like a firework display in the last year, and the show has been rightly hailed as a modern classic. It’ll be thrilling to see where she takes the character in the next series.”
The first season introduced the dry-witted, angry, cash-strapped, grief-riddled, porn-watching title character played by Waller-Bridge, a young woman trying to cope with life in London while coming to terms with a recent tragedy. It co-starred BAFTA-winner Colman alongside Brett Gelman, Bill Paterson, Hugh Dennis, Hugh Skinner, Jamie Demetriou, Jenny Rainsford and Sian Clifford.
The comedy debuted on BBC Three, the broadcaster’s online channel, in July 2016. Amazon acquired it for Amazon Prime Video in May last year, ahead of its BBC bow, and launched it on the streaming service in September.
“Fleabag” is produced by Two Brothers Pictures in association with DryWrite for the BBC. Waller-Bridge executive produces alongside Jack and Harry Williams. Lydia Hampson is the series producer.
The new season was commissioned for BBC Three by Damian Kavanagh, controller of BBC Three, alongside Allen. Kate Daughton is the commissioning editor.
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One of our favourite shows of 2016 will back for more as Fleabag has been renewed for a second season. The BBC comedy drama, written by and starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, came off the back of her award-winning one-woman play for the Edinburgh Fringe back in 2013.
It followed the story of Phoebe, a troubled young woman navigating her way through London life with an unapologetically dark sense of humour throughout. Things were wrapped up fairly well for Phoebe in the first season, but thankfully there will be more to come, with Waller-Bridge saying at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards that she only wanted to bring it back again if she had “an idea that was good enough,” adding, “I think I have one. We are all trying to make it work and have the same team back”.
The six-part series also starred Olivia Colman, Hugh Dennis, Bill Paterson, Sian Clifford and Hugh Skinner. Phoebe told Radio Times that the current plan is to shoot in November and then hopefully broadcast Fleabag’s second season next year.
It looks like 2017 could well be the year for Phoebe Waller-Bridge with the actress and writer in high demand at the moment, having already landed a showrunner gig on BBC America’s Killing Eve, as well as a part in the upcoming Han Solo spin-off movie.
She can do no wrong: BAFTA-winning actress Olivia Colman instantly elevates every one of her projects to ‘must watch’ status. With the complete series of the very-bonkers but very touching Flowers available now on demand, we look back at ten times Olivia Colman was indisputably the best thing on telly.
As the matriarch of the Flowers family – a collection of crackpot individuals who would have been rejected as Wes Anderson characters for being ‘too quirky’ – Colman brought a quiet dignity to a woman who was nonetheless slowly unravelling inside. With her husband an increasingly reclusive figure and her kids too self-absorbed to notice her, Ma Flowers couldn’t be blamed for lusting after other men – but her cringeworthy flirtation with the neighbouring builders makes the toes curl. For a show that never settles on comedy or drama, Colman walks the line with perfect balance.
Much like the mustard that bears her name, Colman is best used sparingly. As the stepmother to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s titular loafer, Colman is a picture of composed malcontent: there’s so much simmering beneath her smile. Even though she only appears briefly in four episodes, she’s perfectly grotesque creation, which – no offence to writer Waller-Bridge – was likely not on paper: it’s all down to Colman. The awkwardness with which she discusses sex with Fleabag is exquisite; other actors should watch and learn how to spin a mere cameo into televisual gold.
The Night Manager
Although she got her start in comedy roles, Olivia Colman has proven herself to be an esteemed and talented dramatic actress. As hard-nosed intelligence operative Angela Burr, Colman gives the performance of her live as she entwines star Tom Hiddleston’s humble hotel manager into the deadly world of espionage. If you were thinking a role in a John Le Carrédrama might be a bit of a stretch for Colman, you’d be wrong: she’s terrific as a woman who has to keep her calm at all costs. In fact, she was nominated for an Emmy for her performance.
It’s impossible to discuss Olivia Colman’s contribution to ITV murder mystery Broadchurch without divulging a few key details, so avert your eyes if you’ve yet to become acquainted with its seaside charms. Colman plays Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, who along with David Tennant’s fellow officer Hardy, investigates the murder of a young boy in the fictional town of the title. Her flair for intense emotional acting was brought to the fore, however, upon the reveal that the murderer was her husband all along: Colman absolutely nails two vital scenes, first when she’s informed of the killer, and second when she finally confronts him. Watch this woman in action and tell us she didn’t earn that Best Actress Bafta.
As Sophie, object of Mark Corrigan’s affection, Colman ran the full spectrum: from out-of-reach office crush to reluctant to girlfriend to spurned wife to bitter ex to passive aggressive mother to his child. Sophie once was everything normal that Mark needed in his life, but thanks to a jilting at the altar – and office halfwit Jeff leading her astray – she eventually grew to hate Mark’s cowardly guts. Having given birth to Mark’s baby and spitefully named it ‘Ian’, Sophie hit the bottle; she was last seen being shamefully buried in a ball-pit in a soft play centre. R.I.B. Sophie.
If you thought history was boring, history after a few bottles of wine and a couple of Aperol Spritzes makes it much more tolerable. That’s the concept of this ace Comedy Central show, which sees comedians neck as much booze as possible before retelling famous stories of history, acted out by famous actors. As a sozzled Josie Long narrated the story of infamous American quack Dr Harvey Crippen, Olivia Colman played his lover Ethel Le Neve, who had to disguise herself as a boy when the pair went on the run. Something about her disarming smile and toothy grin makes her the perfect candidate for a murderer’s mistress.
Nestling in between the giant egos tasked with bringing order to the chaos that was the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was Olivia Colman’s wallflower Sally Owen, personal assistant to Hugh Bonneville’s Head of Deliverance and most downtrodden doormat in the office. Most unhelpful is the fact that the Deliverance teams are all idiots, but particularly problematic is the fact that Sally is in love with her boss, and Olivia Colman plays it sweet and subtle, her ‘deer in the headlights’ act falling just the right side of simpering. We never find out if her feelings are reciprocated, but it doesn’t matter – her work is done and her mission is completed. It’s as Ian says: “She’s basically running the Olympics”.
Any British comedic actor worth his or her salt between 2004-2006 appeared in some capacity in Green Wing, the madcap medical comedy that felt like it had overdosed on methadone. Colman played HR staffer Harriet, who along with her colleagues, never really seemed to do much work. An overworked mother of four who is stuck in a romantic rut with her long-suffering husband, Harriet eventually goes all in on an affair with Paterson Jospeh’s doctor Lyndon, giggling as he man-handles her (“I nearly weed!”). Most exciting, however, is the fact that this dalliance saw Peep Show titans Sophie and Johnson come together in an unholy alliance. What would Mark say?
Look Around You
Robert Popper’s Tomorrow’s World parody was a goldmine for early 00s comedy, and Colman played one of the pseudo-science show’s hosts, Pam Bachelor. Permanently decked out in a most unflattering BHS jump-suit and with bouffant hair that’s never seen a straightener, Pam was one of four hosts who introduced amazing new inventions to the general public, like the Memory Helmet (which allows users to memorise large lists instantly, albeit with the side effect of lowering their voice several octaves) and the Petticoat 5, the computer for women (“You can see here, the space bar is an emery board”). Shows don’t come much sillier and Colman was always game for a laugh.
In one of those ‘Oh, I didn’t know she was in this’ cameo roles, Colman had a small part in The Office as Helena the reporter from Inside Paper, doomed to write up a puff piece on David Brent. Remaining professional to the last, she consistently rebuffed Brent’s efforts to annotate his own interview (“Put ‘David Brent is refreshingly laid back for a man with such responsibility’…”). Her highlight, however, is the excruciating wait she suffers between taking photos of Brent, who is wearing exactly the expression you’d expect from a man who’s just been told he’s been let go: “One more for safety,” she says, frantically waiting for the camera to reload or the sweet release of death, whichever comes first.
Hit Phoebe Waller-Bridge comedy Fleabag is almost certain to return for a second series.
According to BBC sources, both the Corporation and the writer and star herself are keen to make a second season of the show which aired first on BBC3 and finished its BBC2 run at the end of last month.
“Although a second series isn’t officially commissioned yet, we are in discussions and there is a real desire of both sides for it to return, we’re just not sure exactly when,” said a senior BBC source.
Series one of the darkly comic tale of a mischievous and troubled young woman ended with Waller-Bridge’s eponymous Fleabag still at a crossroads in her life following a startling revelation concerning her late friend and business partner Boo (Jenny Rainsford).
Other characters in the acclaimed comedy included Fleabag’s uptight sister Claire (Sian Clifford), her emotionally needy ex-boyfriend played by Hugh Skinner, her ambivalent dad (Bill Paterson) and her passive-aggressive step-mum (Olivia Colman).
Speaking before the broadcast of the comedy, Waller-Bridge intimated that the show was written with a second series in mind.
“We cracked it open so that she would be able to have a life beyond it and also there are so many more stories and story strands and character strands come out of this series,” she said.
Fleabag originated from a one-woman stage show of the same name which Waller-Bridge is bringing back to London’s Soho Theatre later this autumn.