11 March 2009 | davideo-2
Unrealistic but entertaining enough exploitation TV
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning
THE SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL-SEASON 1
To all those close to her, Hannah is a boring office clerk- but her secret profession gives her the title Belle de Jour, a high class prostitute who will entertain every man's kinkiest fantasy for the right price. The first series follows the trials and tribulations of her life, as she copes with the pressures being a call girl entails whilst dealing with her problems outside of work.
The secret diaries of Belle de Jour, who claimed to be a high class escort in a series of memoirs, has caused a stir for years, with claims she doesn't even really exist or is a secret identity who simply made it all up for publicity. This glossy adaptation of her books also created quite a sensation when it came out, rather too explicit and saucy for terrestrial telly and so confined to the more remote sector of digital TV channel ITV 2. It was even more shocking that former squeaky clean teen pop singer Billie Piper was taking the lead role.
However hard it tried and whatever other pretensions it may have had, whether it liked it or not, the first series almost certainly succeeded more as a piece of seedy voyeurism (watching Billie being a dirty, bad girl!) rather than being an intelligent, sharply written comedy about life in the sex trade. Which is a bit of a shame, since it does succeed at times with some quite funny sitcom moments (including Belle being quite graphically introduced to the joys of being a dominatrix prostitute!) and sharp pieces of comic writing, and this does help it along a lot. Whether it's all just a load of make believe is debatable but the writer of the original source material was definitely a bit fantastical with her claims. I doubt very much that any escort really has an apartment as swanky as Belle's, or lives a life as glamorous and exciting as she makes it out to be. Some abused ex hookers were up in arms about claims the show glamorized prostitution and I can sort of see where they were coming from. I've never known an ex hooker with a traumatic past/experiences but...In the lead role, Piper carries the part with the right amount of class and style, a little bland at times but the role's all hers now. There's some pretty good support too, from Iddo Goldberg as her ex lover/best mate and Cheri Lunghi as her hard faced cow boss, who at 55 still looks incredibly attractive herself as an older woman (could maybe still pull a few punters herself...)
More anticipated as a piece of free porn from ITV 2 (well, about time subscribers got some value for money!) and quite divorced from reality indeed, but not as bad as some might say. ***
SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL-SEASON 2
Belle's still getting by in the world of high class prostitution. However, one afternoon a c*ck up (ahem!) with a name in a hotel meeting leads her by chance to a meeting with a handsome doctor. Curious to know what a 'normal life' of dating and relationships would entail, she meets up with him again and becomes close to him. But complications with her work and other aspects of her personal life force her to question what she wants out of and where she's going with her life.
The show obviously garnered enough of an interest on it's limited subscription channel to warrant a second series, and here it is with the original lead star. What's surprising is it's lack of faithfulness to the original's style. Those tuning in for more perverse titillation will be sourly disappointed as the racy sex scenes are kept to a minimum this time round and the series focuses more on the human dramas Belle faces. It plays like a corny daytime soap opera and is all the less interesting for it. None of the cast deliver strong enough performances to stir anything up and before long you're preying Series 3 will never come around. **