Phoebe Waller-Bridge reveals the idea behind Fleabag’s Obama masturbation scene

Former US president named BBC comedy as one of his favourite series of last year

Ellie Harrison
Friday 21 February 2020 12:39 GMT
Phoebe Waller-Bridge wins Best Actress in a TV Comedy for Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has revealed her thinking behind one of Fleabag’s most famous scenes, in which her character masturbates over a video of Barack Obama.

In a new, wide-ranging interview on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Waller-Bridge said the former president “represents hope – and hope is sexy”.

When presenter Jenni Murray asked about the scene, Waller-Bridge laughed and said: “You sound surprised! I believe that’s quite a relatable moment in the TV show.”

Discussing the original one-woman play that the hit BBC show was based on, she explained: “In the play I wanted her to sexualise absolutely everything. She calls her pizza a ‘slutty pizza’, at one point she sexualises her dad. But it’s in this offhand and witty way, so you think she’s just doing it for effect.”

She added: “When you realise it’s so relentless, then you realise that something else is going on underneath, and that she is actually preoccupied by it. We stripped some of that out of the TV show, but Obama, that was never going to go anywhere. That is a truism. He represents hope and hope is sexy.”

Waller-Bridge recently thanked Obama for naming Fleabag as one of his favourite series of 2019. “I would like to thank Obama for putting us on his list,” she said during her Golde Globes acceptance speech. Alluding to the masturbation moment, she added: “And as some of you may know, he’s always been on mine.”

During the interview, in which Waller-Bridge accidentally swore, she also discussed Andrew Scott’s Hot Priest, coping with fame and working on the set of the new James Bond film, No Time to Die.

Ana de Armas recently said her mystery Bond character was a last-minute addition to the film who was entirely written by Waller-Bridge.

No Time to Die will be released in UK cinemas on 3 April.

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