Phoebe Waller-Bridge says Fleabag was a release from worries of womanhood

The writer felt her expression stifled.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has said her comedy was an “electrifying” release from the pressures of being a woman.

The actress and writer has enjoyed rapid success on stage and screen with her frank grappling with sex, relationships, and the often-suppressed complexities of modern womanhood in Fleabag.

She said that the crazed character, who self-destructs in cynicism and ill-fated encounters, stemmed from an urge to “say the truth” about what women were really thinking.

Waller-Bridge has described her own fear that she could fail as a feminist, harm other women, or say the unsayable about sex.

Feeling constrained, the writer penned a short script which later formed part of her stage show, giving herself a way to express everything she wanted to say as a woman.

Fleabag second series
Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Fleabag (Luke Varley/PA)

She said her material first came from “the frustration that I felt like I had a couple of really close friends who I could trust with that stuff, who I could say stuff to that I felt like weren’t allowed to be said by young women, or weren’t allowed to be done by young women in a public sphere”.

She added: “We had this secret cocoon where we could actually say, ‘I don’t give a f*** about that guy, but I’d go there again’.

“Or us talking about life and the messy parts of your brain, and worrying that you’re not the right kind of feminist and that you’ll f*** it up for women everywhere just by being the wrong kind of one.

“And your body and ‘you hate it but you’ve got to be proud of it’, and all that shit.

“Eventually I said, ‘ok why I don’t just go and dare to say some of those things?’”

She wrote a 10-minute piece for her friend, and then took the material to the stage.

Waller-Bridge said: “There was something so electrifying about being able to say the truth.

“Just write what scares you, imagine what you would write if you weren’t afraid.”

Waller-Bridge has said that Fleabag will gain greater depth with the second series, which sees the main character grapple with religion, as well as her usual issues.

The writer and star of the show has said that she feels the pressure to produce good work following her critical success.

She said: “I felt immense pressure after Fleabag, and Killing Eve as well, because when you’re in it, you’re just in a bubble and you hope people are going to jump on it, but when they do it’s just like, ‘Oh god, we’ve got to do it again’.”

Episode 1 of Series 2 of Fleabag will launch on BBC Three on March 4 at 10am, and will air that evening on BBC One at 10.35pm.

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