EXCLUSIVE: Crashing’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge On Friends Inspiration, 'Shirt-Shedding’ And Her Broadchurch Future


[Photo: Channel 4]

You may remember Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Abby Thompson, one of child killer Joe Miller’s barristers in Broadchurch.

She’s back on the box in a very different capacity tonight as the creator and star of Crashing, a new Channel 4 comedy about a group of twenty-somethings navigating the world of adulthood, dating and basically trying to keep a roof over their heads. Oh, and they all live together in an abandoned hospital.

Phoebe, 30, perfectly blends the hilarious melodrama of American sitcoms like Friends—yes, there is a will they/won’t they love triangle—with quintessential British slapstick a la Fawlty Towers.

She speaks exclusively to Yahoo Celebrity about the show:

How did you come up with the idea of the abandoned hospital?

There was one in town where I was writing the show at the Big Talk Productions offices [in London]. When we were looking into where to house the characters, we were looking into property guardianship because we’d seen a massive sign attached to the hospital saying, ‘Protected by occupants’. So I went spoke to some of them and they said there were 40 people living in there and there’s all this old equipment. I thought it was the perfect, quirky, weird place.


[Photo: Channel 4]

I felt some similarity between US shows Friends and Girls. Did you take inspiration from those shows?

I’m a massive fan of both of those shows so I was hugely inspired by both.

Friends still lives in me so strongly, I grew up with that show. I always thought that sense of harmless ensemble comedy about a group of friends who are generally very nice to each other is something I hadn’t seen in ages.

And then I loved that searing honesty of Girls and the insecurities that are laid bare all the way through it, it’s more emotionally visceral. So I thought I’d do a mash-up of them both. I was thinking of them all the time!

How much of the awkward moments were inspired by events in your own life?

There are little secrets dotted all the way through it …


[Photo: Channel 4]

Where did the ‘fart out of the bed’ scene come from?!

No! I will not claim that. That was based on a story—nothing happened—but it was based on a story that nearly happened. From that I made it into Kate’s [Louise Ford] worst nightmare. There’s lots of things that almost happened that my evil comedy brain then wrote down and it was like, ‘What if that happened?’

There is a love triangle between your character Lulu, Anthony (Damien Molony) and Kate (Louise Ford). But I liked that it’s not overly drawn out and you do see some development during the course of the series.

I’m kind of an impatient viewer, I’m a sucker for drama unfolding quite quickly, so I knew that something had to come to a head. I definitely knew it would come to a head by the end. I wasn’t totally sure how, but I knew when I was writing it that someone was going to shag the wrong person!

Sam, played by Jonathan Bailey, is an interesting character to say the least. Where did he come from?

I think he’s one of those people—I’ve met a few of them—they burn so brightly, they’re so energetic, they’re like two people in one body. I’ve always been taken by those people and so exhausted by them at the same time. I’ve always wondered what drives them … with Sam I wanted to write somebody who seemed impenetrable, you couldn’t hurt him, but actually to scratch the surface and see what’s going on underneath and find this vulnerable puppy. I wanted to write a puppy in a man’s body!


[Photo: Channel 4]

You worked with Jonathan Bailey on Broadchurch, is that what landed him the part?

I knew he was completely brilliant. He’s not like Sam but he is unbelievably charismatic in real life—in that way he’s like Sam—and so energetic. Actually when we asked him to come in and audition, part of me did always know it was going to be Jonny. I don’t know anyone like Jonny and I also don’t know anyone like Sam!

You’ve got some hunks in the cast, Jonny and Damien Molony, and they often get shirtless. Was that just by chance…?

It was in their contracts to do shirtless scenes. [Laughs] They were very willing. They sometimes turned up without their tops off! We weren’t complaining.

There’s a lot of shirt-shedding … it did get to that stage. Some of it was voluntary and some if it was gently directed.

We were very lucky with them because it’s very rare that you get such ridiculous beauty and such unbridled talent!


[Photo: Channel 4]

I loved episode three with the truth songs around the dinner table. Are you hoping that takes off like Pinot Noir did for Kimmy Schmidt?

Truth songs! I hope that takes off … I would ruin so many dinner parties. If I could get credit with ruining loads of dinner parties, that’s probably not a good thing, but I’d love it if it took off!

Kathy Burke plays your Aunt Gladys, who’s rather touchy feely and doing things we don’t expect of Kathy Burke…

I think that’s why she wanted to do it, because it’s stuff that she shouldn’t be doing. It was wonderful having her. Across all the giggles that happened over the whole shoot, that was the hardest day. She completely embodies her character. She keeps the accent and rudeness on set. She was running around perving on everybody!


[Photo: Channel 4]

Could you rope Rowan Atkinson, who is dating co-star Louise Ford, to do a similar cameo in series two?

It’s worth a try…

I loved Chewing Gum’s Susan Wokoma as Jessica. If there’s a second series, can she be made a regular please?

I do love Susie! I fell so in love with Susie and what she did with that character. We’re going to [try], she’s got more trouble to cause if it comes back!

So are there plans for a series two already?

I have loads of ideas waiting, quivering, in my head … if we get a second series it’ll be jam packed.

Finally, Broadchurch is coming back for a third series—will you be returning?

I’m not coming back. I don’t know if that’s a secret, that I’m not in it anymore? People keep asking me … I don’t know what’s a secret or not. But no, I’m not going back. I’d be the most surprised out of anyone if I was.

Crashing starts tonight at 10pm on Channel 4