Secret Diary of a Call Girl
Secret Diary of a Call Girl
Secret Diary of a Call Girl intertitle
Created by Lucy Prebble Directed by Yann Demange
Alex Garcia Lopez
Wayne Che Yip
Starring Billie Piper
Narrated by Billie Piper Opening theme "You Know I'm No Good" (Instrumental) Country of origin United Kingdom No. of seasons 4 No. of episodes 32 (List of episodes) Production Executive producer(s) Greg Brenman
Producer(s) Jacquie Glanville
Running time 22 minutes Production company(s) Tiger Aspect Productions Broadcast Original channel ITV2 Picture format 16:9 Original run 27 September 2007– 22 March 2011
Secret Diary of a Call Girl is a British television drama broadcast on ITV2 from 2007-2011 based on the blog and books by the pseudonymous "Belle de Jour," starring Billie Piper as Belle, a high-class London call girl. The series was written by Lucy Prebble, who is also known as the author of The Sugar Syndrome and ENRON. The series has been compared to Sex and the City by many critics, mainly due to its humorous approach to sex.
The rights to the blog were bought by Silverapples Media (Avril MacRory and Paul Duane), who co-produced the series with Tiger Aspect Productions. The series was initially developed with Channel 4 and when Channel 4 passed on the project, ITV took over. The series airs in a late-night 10pm slot, as part of ITV2's "XXL Thursday" programming block.
The theme song is an excerpt of "You Know I'm No Good" by Amy Winehouse. The song runs whilst the intertitle plays, showing Belle applying make-up and getting dressed, interspersed with shots of urban London.
The series, set in London, revolves around the life of Hannah Baxter (Billie Piper), a seemingly normal woman, who lives a secret life as a call girl, under the pseudonym Belle. The series focuses on her professional and private life and its complications as they collide. However, she receives help and advice from her best friend Ben (Iddo Goldberg), in most situations. In the second series premiere, a new call girl Bambi (Ashley Madekwe) is introduced; Hannah becomes close friends with her, and frequently gives her advice regarding prostitution and her personal life.
Hannah, as the main character, also narrates the series, sometimes through voiceovers but more frequently she breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience. During the first series the episodes are held together by a light story arc, however Series 2 and 3 have relied heavily on a story arc, usually in the form of Hannah's romances, namely with Alex and Duncan.
Hannah Baxter/Belle (Billie Piper)
Hannah is a university graduate living in London and – unbeknownst to her family – is also the high class call girl known as "Belle". Hannah is well educated, very eloquent and intelligent. She has expensive tastes and is at times slightly snobbish. She loves her job as a call girl as she is being paid handsomely to do something she does very well. She comes from an average middle-class family who live outside of London; she's close to her father but remains somewhat distant from her older sister who is married with an infant son. Hannah reveals she has tried several professions but struggles to keep down a steady job (as revealed in series two). Hannah is an expert at leading a double life, and is a meticulous planner – her specialty is role-playing fantasies. Hannah is a self-employed call girl, having left Stephanie's agency during the stories run.
Ben (Iddo Goldberg)
Ben is Hannah's best friend and ex-boyfriend from her university days. Ben is the manager of a London bar. His relationship with his on-and-off girlfriend Vanessa is made complicated by his feelings for Hannah. Ben was engaged to Vanessa but backs out of the wedding, instead opting to move outside of London with Vanessa in series two. He knows about Hannah's secret life, which causes much friction between the two at times. Ben has a tendency to stir trouble when he disagrees with Hannah's ways of dealing with things in her life and will often go out of his way to prove his point – especially if it involves other men in her life.
Stephanie Charlton (Cherie Lunghi)
Stephanie is Belle's madame in series one; she was once a call girl like Belle herself. Rich and glamorous, with a cutting sense of humour and cynical attitude, she reluctantly looks out for Belle, offering her advice and help. At times, Stephanie has a tendency to seem quite cold-hearted and unfeeling and will constantly advise her 'girls' away from having romantic attachments. In series three it is revealed that Stephanie had a lesbian relationship with a woman who broke her heart. Actress Cherie Lunghi has said "there's a maternal aspect to [Stephanie]."
Bambi/Gloria White (Ashley Madekwe)
Bambi started as a naive wannabe-escort who was mentored by Belle in season two. Fun-loving Bambi, who started as an escort for money, is now working for Stephanie. In season three, she deals with her rate being dictated by her race and becoming too close to one of her clients. Bambi has lived a notably harder life than Hannah and has been prone to bad relationships and subject to domestic abuse. Bambi has several scars on her upper arms that she generally hides with shrugs and wraps. In series three, Bambi meets and marries her client Byron, an outlandish aristocrat.
Duncan Atwood (James D'Arcy)
Duncan is Belle's publisher in season three, who is urging Belle to write a second book after the success of her first. Belle, despite claiming to have only a working relationship with Duncan and that she does not fancy him, has several on-screen liaisons with him. Belle then starts to have a relationship with him. But friction between Ben and Duncan causes Belle to fall out with Ben. Duncan then has a professional appointment with Bambi, who is at the time unaware that he is Belle's boyfriend. When this becomes known to Belle, she decides to end their relationship, on the basis that he may have slept with numerous other girls, both escorts and non-escorts. Duncan is portrayed as the stereotypical workaholic and a frequenter of call girls.
Alex (Callum Blue)
Alex is a doctor whom Belle initially mistakes for a client in season two. They date and begin a relationship, while Hannah keeps Alex unaware of her secret night life as the call girl "Belle". After discovering her secret, he leaves her, saying he can't deal with her chosen career. Hannah then gives up prostitution and tries to have a "real" job, but finds it tedious and unfulfilling. They mutually decide to separate as he feels she is not all she can be without prostitution, and she cannot fully be happy without her life as "Belle". Alex does not appear in season three.
Byron Seebohm (David Dawson)
Byron is an eccentric young gentleman who comes from an aristocratic family who falls outside of his kind by dressing in the general scruffy, bohemian style while finding various ways to bend the conventional stereotype of his birthright. He becomes one of Bambi's regulars in series three, after her wage is increased to £350 an hour. The pair fall madly in love with each other, much to Hannah's disdain. "Young guy, old money" is Stephanie's description of Byron, a reference to both his noble background and his apparent inheritance of a large sum of money, which would explain how he finances his visits to high-class call girls. In the finale of series three, Bambi and Byron get married.
The series was mainly well received by critics, with Tim Goodman of The San Francisco Chronicle saying, "there's surprise at how much you've underestimated its quality." It was graded A- by Entertainment Weekly, which said, "you will find a rather fascinating drama." Entertainment Weekly also commented on Billie Piper's portrayal of Belle, saying, "Piper is extraordinary, intermittently talking right to the camera in a straightforward, conspiratorial manner, the way a prostitute who's really good at her job would talk to a client." It was less well received, however, by The New York Times, which said, "Secret Diary has amusing touches, but not enough to sustain an entire series."
Whilst reviewing Series 3 of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Gerard O'Donovan of The Telegraph opined that the show focuses too much on Piper's character, saying "All the characters, apart from Belle (Piper), are about as two-dimensional as cardboard cut-outs – and no more engaging."
The series was attacked by some feminists, as Belle sells her body and some complained it objectified women. The series was also accused of glamorising and being a misrepresentation of prostitution. Feminist Rosie Boycott, writing for the Daily Mail, echoed the claims of others, accusing the programme of objectifying women and falsely portraying prostitution, saying "It is impossible to imagine that any one of these women entered 'the game' out of free choice. Yet according to Belle, the heroine of the series ... she loves sex and money and so prostitution was a natural career choice."
It has even been suggested that the series could inspire young women who had not previously thought about entering the escort industry to enter the trade through its glamorous representation of the work and lifestyle. In fact, some escorts now routinely use blogs as marketing tools for their escort services.
Piper hit back at the claims saying, "We've only been exposed to the drug-fueled, sex traffic side – but the fact is, there are middle-class, cultured, well-read women who take part in this job." Cherie Lunghi also noted the complaints and said in response "Series two is good because it brings the less glamorous side out into the open", as the second series dealt with serious issues such as the prospect of rape within prostitution.
Both series 1 and 2 consisted of eight episodes; the series was commissioned for a third series, even before the second series was aired. Series 2 became complicated to film due to Piper's pregnancy and body doubles were hired.
The filming of series 3 began at the start of 2009, once Piper had recovered after the birth of her son, Winston, in October 2008. Piper also stated she would be taking on the role of executive producer of the upcoming series as well. Ahead of the series 3 premiere ITV2 aired a one-off interview between Piper and Magnanti, the real Belle de Jour, entitled, Billie and the Real Belle Bare All.
After the end of Series 3, ITV had not commissioned a fourth series, and there was speculation, even amongst the cast, whether or not Secret Diary of a Call Girl would return. However on 4 May 2010, Katie Begley of the Daily Star reported that Piper and the cast would return for a fourth series, and that Piper would earn £2 million for the new series. The next day however, the Daily Mail stated that Piper had signed a £400,000 contract, earning £50,000 per episode of the fourth series. Piper has stated that the fourth series is to be the final, but Piper commented that there have been talks to create a film adaptation of the series.
In the United States, Showtime aired the first series of eight half-hour episodes beginning in June 2008, with a commitment for an additional 12 episodes. Robert Greenblatt, Showtime's president of entertainment, initially considered buying format rights and recasting it with American actors, but he ultimately decided that the original was "fantastic"; Greenblatt also noted that "it's very hard to find American actresses who are comfortable doing nudity." The second season aired on 18 January 2009. On November 6, 2009, Showtime announced that the show's third season would return on January 25, 2010 at 10:00pm. Showtime has scheduled the fourth season to premiere April 7th at 10:30pm.
The first series was released on 7 January 2008 on Region 2 DVD. Series 2 was released in the United Kingdom on 2 March 2009, and like the first series classified 18. On the same day, a four disc box set edition consisting of both series 1 and 2 was released. On both sets, much of the popular music was replaced due to high licensing costs.
In the U.S. the Region 1 version of series 1 was released on 6 January 2009, soon afterwards, in June, series 2 was released. Similarly, much of the music was replaced due to high licensing costs.
The television series is rated R18 in New Zealand as it contains sex scenes and offensive language.
ITV2 Ratings Series
Series 1 1 27 September 2007 1,997,000 1,242,125 2 4 October 2007 1,475,000 3 11 October 2007 1,098,000 4 18 October 2007 1,108,000 5 25 October 2007 1,077,000 6 1 November 2007 1,003,000 7 8 November 2007 1,194,000 8 15 November 2007 985,000 Series 2 1 11 September 2008 1,074,000 975,500 2 11 September 2008 1,044,000 3 18 September 2008 1,081,000 4 25 September 2008 879,000 5 2 October 2008 896,000 6 9 October 2008 969,000 7 16 October 2008 959,000 8 23 October 2008 902,000 Series 3 1 28 January 2010 924,000 837,125 2 28 January 2010 875,000 3 4 February 2010 731,000 4 11 February 2010 805,000 5 18 February 2010 941,000 6 25 February 2010 889,000 7 4 March 2010 806,000 8 11 March 2010 726,000 Series 4 1 01 February 2011 829,000 TBA 2 08 February 2011 665,000 3 15 February 2011 614,000 4 22 February 2011 572,000 5 1 March 2011 661,000 6 8 March 2011 674,000 7 15 March 2011 582,000 8 22 March 2011 595,000
The series premiered in the U.S. on Showtime to the highest ratings the cable channel had seen in four years for a television premiere. The series debut reached almost one million viewers, its closest rival, Dexter, premiered to 604,000. The showing held on to an impressive 70% of its lead-in audience that tuned in for the fourth-season premiere of Weeds.
- ^ http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/television/2008/06/30/080630crte_television_franklin
- ^ Goodman, Tim (16 June 2008). "'Secret Diary of a Call Girl' - watchable fun". The San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/06/16/DDRF119LNJ.DTL.
- ^ BBC News, Piper set to star in TV sex drama, 2007-02-12.
- ^ Cherie Lunghi (2008). "Meet the cast". ITV. http://www.itv.com/Drama/contemporary/TheSecretDiaryofaCallGirl/Castinterviews/default.html. Retrieved 2009-04-18.
- ^ Nancy Franklin (2008-06-30). "Working girl - a British take on the world's oldest profession". The New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/television/2008/06/30/080630crte_television_franklin. Retrieved 2009-12-22.
- ^ Goodman, Tim (16 January 2009). "TV reviews: 'Conchords,' 'Big Love,' 'Call Girl'". The San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2009/01/16/DDSL15AVBK.DTL.
- ^ http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20206297,00.html
- ^ Stanley, Alessandra (16 June 2008). "Old Love, New Love, Ev'ry Love but True Love". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/16/arts/television/16secr.html. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- ^ O'Donovan, Gerard (28 January 2010). "Secret Diary of a Call Girl, ITV2, review". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/7095052/Secret-Diary-of-a-Call-Girl-ITV2-review.html. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- ^ a b Rosie Boycott (2007-09-25). "Why do so many modern women think being a sex object is cool?". London: Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-483699/Why-modern-women-think-sex-object-cool.html. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
- ^ Sherwin, Adam (8 September 2007). "Billie Piper drama is accused of glamorising prostitution". The Times (London). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article2409847.ece. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- ^ Wyatt, Edward (16 June 2008). "'Secret Diary of a Call Girl' series imported by Showtime". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/arts/17iht-girl.1.13733372.html. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- ^ http://www.red-metal.co.uk/app/
- ^ Deacon, Michael (6 September 2008). "Secret Diary of a Call Girl". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/3559918/Secret-Diary-of-a-Call-Girl.html. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- ^ "Cherie Call girls are cold inside". The Sun (London). 3 September 2008. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/article1644049.ece.
- ^ "Body double to fill in for pregnant Billie Piper as she reprises racy call girl role". Daily Mail (London). 16 May 2008. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-566767/Body-double-pregnant-Billie-Piper-reprises-racy-girl-role.html.
- ^ Beth Hilton (2008-05-27). "ITV2 orders third series of 'Call Girl'". Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/a96788/itv2-orders-third-season-of-call-girl.html. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
- ^ Billie Piper (2009-02-02). "Billie to cut workload after Secret Diary Of A Call Girl". ITN. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8yQk49GDRU. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
- ^ http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/news/a208288/secret-diary-cast-unsure-over-fourth-run.html
- ^ Kaite Begley (200-05-04). "Billie Piper to get £2M for fourth call girl series". Daily Star. http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/view/133666/Billie-Piper-to-get-2m-for-fourth-call-girl-series/. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- ^ "Billie Piper is the world's highest paid 'prostitute' as she signs a £400,000 deal to reprise her role as Belle de Jour". London: Daily Mail. 2010-05-05. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1272934/Billie-Piper-worlds-highest-paid-prostitute-signs-2million-deal-reprise-role-Belle-Jour.html. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-tDzEB39oE
- ^ Blackburn, Jen (11 June 2010). "The Secret Movie of a Call Girl". The Sun (London). http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/3009262/Billie-Pipers-Secret-Dirary-of-a-Call-Girl-set-to-be-Hollywood-movie.html.
- ^ http://primetime.unrealitytv.co.uk/the-secret-diary-of-a-call-girl-a-ratings-hit/
- ^ US networks look to British TV for content that can be Americanized into domestic hit, an Associated Press article via the International Herald Tribune
- ^ Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season 1 (UK - DVD R2) in News > Releases at DVDActive
- ^ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Diary-Call-Girl-1-2/dp/B001LFGV6U/ref=pd_cp_d_h__1
- ^ http://uk.dvd.ign.com/objects/143/14340631.html
- ^ "BARB Weekly Ratings". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board. 7 November 2007. http://www.barb.co.uk/viewingsummary/weekreports.cfm?RequestTimeout=500&report=weeklytop30.
- ^ Plunkett, John (18 June 2008). "Secret Diary of a Call Girl's US debut is a hit with viewers". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/jun/18/tvratings.television?gusrc=rss&feed=uknews. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- Secret Diary of a Call Girl at itv.com – UK Official Website on ITV (Videos of episodes cannot be viewed from outside the UK).
- Secret Diary of a Call Girl – Official Website on Showcase (showcase.ca) (Canada) (menu provides link to its blog).
- Secret Diary of a Call Girl – Official Website on Showtime (sho.com) (United States) (menu provides links to characters and their fan-edited "Wiki guides").
- Secret Diary of a Call Girl – Official Website on The Movie Network (Canada).
- Secret Diary of a Call Girl at the Internet Movie Database
- Belle de Jour: Diary of a London Call Girl – Original Blog, hosted on Blogspot.com, upon which the TV series is based.
Secret Diary of a Call Girl Episode list CharactersHannah Baxter • Stephanie Charlton Other mediaYou Know I'm No Good • The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl • Billie and the Real Belle Bare All Lucy Prebble • Belle de Jour Showtime Network programming 1980s debuts 1990s debutsBeggars and Choosers · Beverly Hills Bordello · The Busy World of Richard Scarry · Chris Cross · Dead Man's Gun · The Hoop Life · Linc's · The Outer Limits · OWL/TV · Poltergeist: The Legacy · Ready or Not · Red Shoe Diaries · Rude Awakening · Stargate SG-1 · Total Recall 2070 · Women: Stories of Passion 2000s debutsAmerican Candidate · Barbershop: The Series · Brotherhood · The Chris Isaak Show · Dead Like Me · Deeper Throat · Elite Xtreme Combat · Family Business · Fat Actress · Free for All · Going to California · Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League · Huff · Jeremiah · The L Word · Lady Chatterly's Stories · Leap Years · Lock N‘ Load · Masters of Horror · Meadowlands · Odyssey 5 · Out of Order · Penn & Teller: Bullshit! · Queer as Folk · Queer Duck · Resurrection Blvd. · Secret Diary of a Call Girl · ShoXC · Sleeper Cell · Soul Food · Tracey Ullman's State of the Union · The Tudors · Damon Wayans‘ The Underground · This American Life · United States of Tara 2010s debutsThe Franchise CurrentBeach Heat: Miami (since 2010) · Big Brother: After Dark (since 2007–present) · The Big C (since 2010) · Body Language (since 2008) · The Borgias (since 2011) · Californication (since 2007) · Dexter (since 2006) · Episodes (since 2011) · Gigolos (since 2011) · The Green Room with Paul Provenza (since 2010) · Homeland (since 2011) · Inside NASCAR (since 2010) · Inside the NFL (since 2008) · La La Land (since 2010) · Nurse Jackie (since 2009) · Shameless (since 2011) · ShoBox: The New Generation (since 2001) · The Real L Word (since 2010) · ShoMMA (since 2009) · Showtime Championship Boxing (since 1986) · Web Therapy (since 2011) · Weeds (since 2005) UpcomingHouse of Lies (2012)ABC (current) · AMC · CBS (current) · CW · E! · Fox · FX · HBO · OWN · NBC (current) · Showtime · Starz · TBS · TNT · USA
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