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Series / Secret Diary of a Call Girl

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Charming, perky, and Not Safe for Work.

"The first thing you should know about me is that I'm a whore."

Secret Diary of a Call Girl (2007–11) is an ITV drama series starring Billie Piper. The show is based on the tell-all blog and later memoirs of the real Belle de Jour (aka Brooke Magnanti, PhD.), a cancer scientist who became a call girl to pay off her university debts. (In typical British fashion, when the author's identity was revealed, the university that she worked for barely blinked an eye.)

Hannah Baxter (Piper) is every bit the usual young single professional: educated, sophisticated, and a bit reserved. But unbeknownst to her family, she's not actually a legal secretary. She works as Belle de Jour, a glamorous call girl with a massive price tag who adores her job. Along with her male best friend Ben (who has resigned himself to Belle's profession) and her rather over-eager sex-worker-in-training protegee Bambi, we get to see Hannah navigate her work, taking care of finances, dealing with customer retention and satisfaction issues, and attending interviews for "promotion".

Hannah also loves her job. She has no moral qualms with having sex with men who are in monogamous relationships — after all, she always cheated on her boyfriends as well. However, her own wants and needs still make it difficult for her at times to stay professional. Throughout the series, she struggles with catering to fetishes she's not into, she finds it hard to make normal friends, she occasionally skips out on clients, and keeping everything a secret from her family isn't always easy.

So basically, it's a cross between a Work Com and Sex and the City. And yes, this is a post-watershed show, so be prepared for tits, ass, cocks, and fetishes aplenty.

The show drew the ire of some critics and feminists for glamourizing the sex industry and showing it as safe and prestigious, while glossing over the drugs, violence, and exploitation that plague the trade. Other feminists praised the show for its powerful female character, who is completely unashamed of her sexuality and uses it totally to suit her ends, though not always in an ethical way.

This show provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: In series 4, episode 5, Belle posts a notice on her website saying "Call now for a classic English Rose." This is an allusion to her role as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who.
  • Attempted Rape: Happens to Belle in series 2.
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: Two different events in series 2. One involving a spouse, one involving Alex.
  • Best Woman: Hannah is Ben's in series 1, until Ben calls off the wedding to Vanessa.
  • Betty and Veronica: The series finale has elements of this, with Belle faced with choosing between Ben (Betty) and Harry (Veronica). In the end, she chooses neither.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Belle De Jour": "beauty of the day".
  • Big Applesauce: In episode 5 of season 4, Belle travels to New York to consider an offer to make a movie based on her book. She enjoys shopping and the city, too.
  • Blatant Lie: The title, since it claims to be a "Secret Diary", but it's based on a blog, which is about as non-secret as you can get.
  • Character Development: From series two we see a drastic change in Belle/Hannah's outlook on life as a call girl, and the less glamorous side is further investigated.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bambi and Byron disappear from the show without any explanation after the conclusion of season 3.
  • Cold Cash: Belle stashes her payments from clients in the freezer after checking the money before progressing with the encounter.
  • Differing Priorities Breakup: How Hannah and Alex eventually end things.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Ben is a Type 2 for Hannah, though he begins taking on Type 1 aspects during Season 3. This works out for him at the beginning of season 4, but does not last.
  • Dominatrix: Charlotte (Gemma Chan).
  • Downer Ending: Belle ultimately decides that she can't reconcile her job as an escort with a stable relationship. The final scene has her breaking up with Ben, believing he deserves better, and tearfully walking off into the night.
  • English Rose: The trope is referenced in season 4, episode 5 when Belle puts an ad on her website "Call now for a classic English Rose" when she's staying in New York. As a pretty Englishwoman, she sure can fulfill this dream of meeting a classy, petite, fair-skinned and fair-haired English girl to her customers. And even though as Hannah, she is an all around nice girl and intelligent, her job as a call girl and her glamorous, sexy appearance are quite far from the ideal of wholesome beauty.
  • Ethical Slut: Mistress Sirona. Belle is a bit shocked, and a bit uncomfortable, when she learns just how easy open relationships can be. She herself always cheated on her boyfriends and has no qualms about sleeping with people without their wives and girlfriends knowing, so a completely ethical open relationship is a very alien idea for her.
  • Fake Shemp: Series 2 became complicated to film due to Piper's pregnancy and body doubles were hired.
  • Fanservice: It's Showtime and ITV, what do you expect?
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Hannah went from treating Bambi as a nuisance to a friend after she saved Bambi from a bad client, and Bambi saving her from someone who tied Hannah up.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Happens a lot on the show, with Belle usually being one of the girls.
  • The Ghost: Vanessa's is Ben's girlfriend and fiancee from series 1-2, yet she's never appeared on screen.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Belle.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Belle writes about her working life and her book gets published.
  • Idiot Ball: In series 4, episode 4, Belle swaps clients with Charlotte, a dominatrix who has been showing great discontent with Belle being her temporary boss. Then she's clearly surprised and outraged that said client is an autonepiophilist.
  • Imagine Spot: A recurring element of the series.
  • Lipstick-and-Load Montage: The opening credits.
  • Little Red Fighting Hood: During a fairy-tale-themed orgy Bambi, dressed up as Red Riding Hood, saves Belle from getting raped by another guest using her own partner's handgun (a literal Chekhov's Gun, in fact).
  • Logical Fallacies:
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Belle becomes a writer and writes a hit book about her work.
  • No Fourth Wall: What is this "fourth wall" of which you speak?
  • Out with a Bang: Sort of. One of Belle's clients dies during a vampire role play... while lying in a coffin.
  • Pie in the Face: Belle gets one of these in series 3, thanks to a client who's into "sploshing."
    • Which, when you think about it, turns "Billie Piper" into a "Pied Piper."
  • Pretty in Mink: One episode has her wearing a short, white rabbit cape.
  • Racist Grandma: Belle's great-aunt. "I don't buy from catalogues anymore. They're all owned by Jews."
  • Secret Identity:
    • The main character goes by her real name "Hannah" in everyday life and "Belle" for her work as a call girl.
    • "Bambi" is also an alias. In season 3, her real name is revealed to be Gloria.
  • Sex for Solace: Hannah and Ben near the end of series 2.
  • Sex Is Cool: Of course.
  • Sex Montage: Naturally.
  • Shout-Out: Belle de Jour was a French movie from the '60s about a bored housewife who decides to become a prostitute during the day while her husband is at work. The reference, both in Real Life and in the show, is most likely intentional.
  • Undisclosed Funds: For the first half of series 1, until she reveals that she earns £105,000/year.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution
  • Upper-Class Twit: Byron, though he is shown to genuinely love and care for Bambi.
  • Work Com: For the sex-trade, or at least the higher echelons thereof.
  • Writer's Block: Belle sometimes lacks inspiration for her second book.
  • You Need to Get Laid: From Bambi to Belle, no less.