Series producer Rebecca de Souza tells us what's in store for Billie Piper's alter ego in the new series.I still wish we'd gotten the first book publishing this series instead of that flash-forward, but it looks like we'll still get to see a bit of the struggle that I'd hoped for as I wrote about in my write-up about the series two finale:
Where are you at with series three right now?
"We haven't started pre-production officially. Official pre-production begins when you've hired your director, and that will happen at the end of February. But we have five scripts now and we'll commission another three soon, so right now we're really working on the scripts and the stories."
The recommission for a third series came before series two had even aired. Did you expect such an early pickup?
"No, and it's very, very nice to be in that position because it means you can get ahead of time."
In terms of storylines, did it allow you to sow seeds in series two that will come in to play in series three?
"No, it didn't especially do that. The big advantage it's given us is time to plan the scripts, as opposed to doing it in a kick-bollock-scramble way, which is how we normally work. You always get there in the end with kick-bollock-scramble, but it's exhausting and you tend to spend too much money. It's quite a small budget show, so to be in advance means we can make our money go further."
How many series have you planned for?
"We're only planning for this series, but we've always got our eye on the next series. So, for example, we won't be killing anybody off. We don't know yet if we're having a fourth series - we would hope to - but we have to make sure we have an eye on our richest characters to carry us through. So obviously that's Belle, but there's also Bambi (Ashley Madekwe), who is a significant character in series two and will be in three. And Ben (Iddo Goldberg) and Belle's family."
Will Alex (Callum Blue) be back?
"Alex is not coming back. That really was a love affair that ended and there's no future for them. But Bambi is back and so is Ben and Stephanie (Cherie Lunghi), but we're also introducing another major character who is Belle's editor. One of the major stories in this next series is that Belle is writing a second book. At the end of the last series we flashed forward to her having written a book and becoming quite successful, which is the true life story of the real Belle, so in this series we're exploring her trying to write a second book. Within that she has a relationship - a professional relationship - with her editor, but it also becomes quite a complicated romantic relationship."
Is she still doing escorting as well?
What else can we expect from series three?
"The main thing is that she's trying to be a writer and that's affecting her escorting work a lot, because she's trying to get bigger and better experiences in the bedroom in order to be able to write about it. So you get the comic effect of that, because she knows she's going to have to write about the experience. You can also expect Bambi to meet an extraordinary client, who she falls in love with, and Ben to decide that he's got to grow up and take his life in a whole new direction."
Belle's family didn't feature too prominently in the first two series. Are there any plans to make more use of them?
"Her sister has a lot to do in this next series. Her sister's going to have a marital crisis and come to Belle for help, and Belle's going to give her own style of help. There will be a finale with the family too."
The tone of series two was slightly different from the first - it seemed more comedic. What was the thinking behind that?
"I don't know how conscious the thinking was. I don't think we ever sat down to say 'let's make it funnier', but I think as we became more confident about the characters it became quite natural. And it's very natural for the third series too. We were very certain in series two that we wanted to dig deeper with the characterisation and to make it more complicated and more thoughtful. All of that sounds like it doesn't necessarily equal comedy, but by going deeper, that's somehow what came out of it."
What challenges did Billie's pregnancy present for filming of series two?
"For Billie herself, the challenge was feeling uncomfortable and tired and needing to go to the loo quite a bit. For us it was about hiding the bump - so we had to use a body double. We obviously had to have sex scenes and Billie couldn't do that. That put a bit of a pressure on the filming schedule because you often had to film a scene twice - first with Billie, then with the stand-in. It was also a really big job for the costume department, because by the time we came to shoot, her size had invariably changed. You can't predict how quickly a bump will change!"
Secret Diary Of A Call Girl returns to ITV2 in Autumn 2009.
"The next chapter." And it just, it didn't work for me on an emotional level. It was too rushed, too much and for the first time ever, Billie's casting in the role didn't work because wig or shades, there is NO way you are not going to recognize Billie Piper as Billie Piper. That jawline speaks for itself. But more than that -- a superficial thing that is easily ignored in the lovely world of willing suspension of disbelief -- was the jump ahead. I was quite, quite looking forward to next series being about Belle juggling the emotional fallout of her broken heart, her escorting, and her writing. Now, well, we've skipped over all of that. Judging by the last line, delivery and smile, Belle's past the rough stages.
I realized what would have made it work for me perfectly. I think it should have ended when Belle typed/voice-overed "The first thing you should know about me is that I'm a whore." And then end there on that blinking period on the computer screen. It would have wrapped up the emotional arc of this season (tying into the Alex-whore convo from the bed scene last week), and opening the chapter for the next series with the writing aspect of Belle.
At least we WILL still be dealing with Belle struggling a bit, and I have no doubt the show will be as amazing as the first two series were. And it also sounds like we'll be in for some comedic and dramatic stuff all-around -- and I'm glad we're going to see more of the family. I can't wait!!