In Depth

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: five things you didn’t know about the Fleabag star

Emmy winner signs £50m Amazon deal

The Fleabag writer and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has signed a major new TV deal with Amazon.

The agreement will see Waller-Bridge write and produce new shows exclusively for streaming service Amazon Prime.

And the deal will net the 34-year-old around £16m a year over three years, says showbiz industry mag Variety.

Waller-Bridge said: “I’m insanely excited to be continuing my relationship with Amazon. Working with the team on Fleabag was the creative partnership dreams are made of.

“It really feels like home. I can't wait to get going!”

Fleabag was named the overall outstanding comedy series at the Emmys on Sunday, and also collected honours for writing, directing, acting, casting and editing, further adding to Waller-Bridge’s star power.

But senior UK television industry figures have warned that British talent is increasingly being bought up by international rivals.

Chief executive of Channel 4, Alex Mahon, told the Royal Television Society conference last week that there was a “growing concentration of power in the hands of just a few tech behemoths”.

The warnings are unlikely to trouble Waller-Bridge, who also created Killing Eve and has been hired to write on the new James Bond film.

Here are five things you may not know about her:

Her no-go word

Although Fleabag deals with adult subjects, Waller-Bridge has revealed there is one word that her bosses at the BBC won’t allow her to use.

The controversial line comes in a scene in which Fleabag speaks to a priest, played by Andrew Scott, on whom she has a crush, Digital Spy reports.

“Originally, the priest said he didn’t want to talk about his brother because his brother’s a c**t,” Waller-Bridge told the entertainment news site. “And the BBC were like, ‘You can’t say c**t,’ all they said was they need an alternative.”

What ended up in the script was that the priest didn’t want to talk about his brother, because the brother is “a paedophile”.

“I was like, ‘you want an alternative? OK! I appreciate the irony here,’” Waller-Bridge added.

In the dark about Star Wars 

Waller-Bridge played L3-37, Lando Calrissian’s acerbic droid partner, in Solo: A Star Wars Story - but admits that having never seen any Star Wars films, she was a little clueless when she got the casting call.

Indeed, her reaction was: “Droid... droid... what’s a droid?”

According to Gizmodo, “she auditioned in an incredibly human, non-mechanical way, only to have her suspicions confirmed when one of the directors made a robot motion when asking her to read the part a little differently”.

All the same, the mix-up may have been to her advantage. “Strangely, I think it worked in my favour, because they thought my humanness was a choice,” Waller-Bridge told Vogue.

A family business

Both her brother, Jasper, and her sister, Isobel, are also in the entertainment business. Jasper is a music manager, while Isobel is a composer who was sound designer for a stage show version of Fleabag before providing the music for the TV series.

The glitzy family connections don’t stop there. Waller-Bridge’s maternal grandfather was Sir John Edward Longueville Clerke, 12th Baronet; while on her fathers side she is a descendant of The Reverend Sir Egerton Leigh, 2nd Baronet, a Tory member of Parliament for Mid-Cheshire from 1873 until 1876.

Touted as the next Doctor Who

Waller-Bridge was “widely speculated to be taking over from Peter Capaldi as the iconic Time Lord in Doctor Who”, reports The Sun.

But in July 2017 it emerged that her Broadchurch co-star Jodie Whittaker had actually landed the coveted role.

Whittaker has since revealed that she felt awful about all the media attention that followed Waller-Bridge in the lead-up to the announcement.

“It was just amazing that Phoebe Waller-Bridge had all that and she dealt with it all so amazingly and gracefully,” Whittaker told Dermot O’Leary on BBC Radio 2.

“And at no point could I just text her and go, ‘I’m so sorry’ – because I was under the radar the entire time until the last few days.”

Ready for the Run

Waller-Bridge’s next production project is another genre mash-up, with HBO due to air her romantic comedy-cum-thriller Run for a full season.

The series, written by her frequent collaborator Vicky Jones, follows Ruby (Merritt Wever), a woman living a humdrum existence who one day gets a text inviting her to take a journey with her first love, Billy (Domhnall Gleeson).

As well as producing the new show, Waller-Bridge will play the recurring character of Flick, and told Vogue she was looking forward to spending more time with Jones.

“Whenever Jones and I see each other, that’s when we analyse our lives for each other’s entertainment. And if either one of us says something particularly interesting, the other one is like,  ‘stop, write it down - that was really poetic, darling, write it down,’” she said.

The new Amazon deal will allow for her to continue executive producing Run, says the BBC.

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