Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season 1, Episode 8

Episode #1.8 (15 Nov. 2007)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
7.0
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After falling out with her agent, Belle meets two women who run a company called Diamond International and after a lengthy interview they invite Belle onto their books. Their call-girls ... See full summary »

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(as Sue Tully)

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(weblog "The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl"), (creator), 2 more credits »
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Title: Episode #1.8 (15 Nov 2007)

Episode #1.8 (15 Nov 2007) on IMDb 7/10

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Anna
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Ben
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Hannah's Mum
Stuart Organ ...
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Storyline

After falling out with her agent, Belle meets two women who run a company called Diamond International and after a lengthy interview they invite Belle onto their books. Their call-girls have very few clients but are required to spend a lot of time with them. Belle's first client is the extremely wealthy Mitchell, who takes her to stay in his penthouse, but she has very little to do and leaves both him and the organization. With Ben helping her to find work she will go free-lance. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

15 November 2007 (UK)  »

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Wake Up Alone
Performed by Amy Winehouse
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User Reviews

Season 1: Light & superficial without being fun while the drama side is obvious and poorly done
23 January 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

To her family Belle is a legal secretary in London with a busy lifestyle of a single woman in the city. To her best friend Ben, she is busy young woman who loves fun and has fairly frequent stories of her sexual encounters. The truth is that Belle is a high price escort who services clients via her madam. She was not abused, not forced into it and not addicted to any drugs; she enjoys sex and she likes money and her chosen job is a good way to get both. As she discusses various aspects of her life and job with us, we also follow her as tries to get her work/life balance right.

This series benefited from several things and I think it would be disingenuous to pretend that they were not factors in its relative success. The less obvious factor is the writer's strike in the US, which left gaps in the network's schedules that needed filling. This made products that they may never have considered buying turn into "the next big thing" that they were pushing and it is hard to believe that this show didn't get picked up as a result of that. The main reason for it doing quite well though is of course the novelty value of seeing former Doctor Who assistant Billie Piper taking a massive jump away from her light-entertainment clean-cut personae. These issues are nothing to do with the quality of the actual product though and, outside of the tabloid's getting sexy photos of Piper and putting their own spin on it (approve or disapprove – they all ran the photos!), the show needs to work on its own terms.

What we get though is a series that doesn't do any one thing well enough to make it work. Based on the book by the real Belle, who is to say what is real and what is not but certainly the whole programme has a "Sex & the City" gloss on it that makes it feel like a fantasy aimed at viewers of that very programme. That the show is light weight and superficial is not a problem – the problem is that it is not very good at doing it. Instead of being fresh, fun and engaging by being superficial, it uses this tone to deliver loads of teasing stuff that is so soft-core that you wonder who they were appealing to other than the tabloid writers with column inches to fill. Shows can engage by being light and fun but in this case it doesn't.

That leaves the attempts at substance which season 1 brings in later on. These are not helped by how very episodic and contained the show had been for the first four episodes and the fact that it had not really engaged up till then either. There is potential in some of the emotional turmoil that Hannah goes through and also her relationship with Ben, but the writers don't make much of it other than being very obvious and dull. Likewise any physical, psychological or otherwise downside to the profession is presented in the same glossy episodic way that seems to suggest that there are no problems or concerns that are lasting or that cannot be resolved in a few scenes.

And things are done in a few scenes as the short season run is added to by the short episode time – barely 20 minutes long. This should fly by and be rammed with material in an attempt to fit it all into the constraint of the short episode run time. Instead it feels padded and slow, like each weekly "sketch" of an episode is struggling to fill it. The cast are mixed. Piper herself suffers in my eyes for being used and being handed weak material but she does do well with it. She just about makes the "to-camera" stuff work and she is engaging – ironically she gets better as the season moves away from the initial "oh look at her sucking d***; oh, she in panties now; lord did I just see a nipple?" thing that it does very heavily in the first few episodes. Goldberg's Ben is a poor creation on paper; he does his best to play it natural but when the narrative suggests a reaction that is not there on paper, he cannot make it real or make it work. The supporting cast are all OK but really this light weight thing is all about Piper and titillation.

There is potential here but season 1 never realises it and tries to do a mix that never works. I will take a look at season because I'm curious to see if they try and make something more of the show or if they just keep churning out the same old stuff but, on the basis of season 1, I'll not be hoping for a great deal.


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