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How Phoebe Waller-Bridge is ‘spicing up’ James Bond

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Faye Thomas

Phoebe Waller-Bridge says she has added some “little spices” to the new James Bond film No Time to Die.

The award-winning writer, actress and creator of Fleabag says she was brought on board “to help out” with the script for the 25th 007 instalment.

“They were just looking for tweaks across a few of the characters and a few of the storylines,” she adds.

No Time to Die will be the first Bond film to come out in the era of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.

But, while questions have been raised in recent years about the misogynistic and domineering way James Bond has traditionally treated women, Waller-Bridge insists she was not told to change the culture of the films.

“They were already doing that themselves,” she says. “They’re having that conversation with themselves the whole time. It (her involvement) was much more practical. Just, ‘You’re a writer, we need some help with these scenes. And you come up with some dialogue for these characters’.”

Waller-Bridge is only the second woman to have a writing credit on a Bond film during the franchise’s 57-year history. The first was Johanna Harwood on Dr No and From Russia with Love in the early 1960s.

Daniel Craig, who’s played Bond since 2006, has said it was his idea to enlist Waller-Bridge.

She says it was actually the film’s American producer Barbara Broccoli who first got in touch.

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Left-right: Lea Seydoux, Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch launch No Time to Die

“We met for coffee and then a few months later we met again. And then I met the director Cary Joji Fukunaga and then I met Daniel after that. But I know Daniel and Barbara had been talking about it for while,” explains Waller-Bridge.

She then spent time discussing the script with Craig in New York before joining the cast and crew at Pinewood where she spent “a lot of time” on set.

She said “it doesn’t get cooler” than writing lines for James Bond.

The film’s lead actress is Lashana Lynch, who plays a British agent. She says she was overjoyed when she discovered Waller-Bridge was going to be involved.

Lynch told the Hollywood Reporter magazine: “I very literally squealed when I first heard her name. I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, British girl just like me. She’s going to know how to actually take care of women onscreen’.”

Ana de Armas, who will also be seen in No Time to Die, says Bond fans will notice the shift in dynamics in the new film. “It’s pretty obvious that there is an evolution in the fact that Lashana is one of the main characters in the film and wears the pants – literally,” she told the magazine.

But for fans hoping Waller-Bridge might make a brief appearance, she herself stresses she’s not in the film.

Can Daniel Craig modernisie James Bond?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge to make James Bond’s women feel ‘real’

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge hopes her book of Fleabag scripts will give fans a new insight into the show’s making

She does however pop up in a behind-the-scenes recording for Children in Need with her Fleabag co-star, Olivia Colman.

Colman has provided vocals on a cover of Portishead’s Glory Box, with Waller-Bridge backing her up on the ukulele.

She says the woman she affectionately calls “Colly” sent her a message asking her to help out and she agreed immediately.

And she reveals the pair frequently enjoy “good old” karaoke sessions.

“I’ve been karaoke-ing with Colly for a long time. So I know the pipes that woman has. And so I was excited that the world was going to get to hear them.”

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Phoebe Waller-Bridge has become good friends with her co-star Olivia “Colly” Coleman

Her friendship with Colman has spanned the two series of the hit BBC comedy Fleabag, and the scripts from the show are now being published in the book Fleabag: The Scriptures, which features unseen stage directions.

Waller-Bridge thinks they will give readers “a more personal connection with the characters” as well as “really displaying what the actors brought to it”.

“Once you see what’s on the page,” she adds, Colman’s performance as Fleabag’s evil godmother “is even more impressive when you see what she was given in the first place”.

The book also features new writing from Waller-Bridge in which she discloses more about her creative process.

“I re-write quite a lot on the day,” she divulges, which means “I’m so last minute”.

Waller-Bridge says she was prompted to write Fleabag “almost entirely” because she was being cast in very “basic” roles after drama school.

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Andrew Scott’s priest became the object of Fleabag’s affection

And the pressure to look a certain way had her “teetering on the edge of a depression”.

“It really got under my skin,” she says. “(There was) this ideal version of a woman everyone had to aspire to from a very young age and the ideal was that she was very sexual and perfect.

“I felt so angry about it because I didn’t feel I had to justify myself. And I had to prove that first and foremost I had a brain and I was clever. But at the same time I also felt I had to prove that I was pretty and desirable.”

In the second series of Fleabag, Waller-Bridge gave her character a love interest in a charismatic priest, played by Andrew Scott.

In the final episode, the pair have a brief conversation in an alley before sharing a kiss – it’s a scene Waller-Bridge says she hadn’t worked out properly.

“We’d read it out and I felt like it was not working. I remember saying, ‘I’m really sorry Andrew I don’t like that and he said it’s ok’. He was such a good sport.”

But it was the end of the day, time was running out and the director was calling for them to shoot the scene.

“Andrew jumped up and was like, ‘Yeah let’s do it’,” recalls Waller-Bridge. “It did give it a kind of crazy electricity because we didn’t really know what was going to happen.

“We did that three or four times on the trot and eventually got the scene we needed.”

She also reveals it was Scott who insisted his character say, “I love you too” to Fleabag at the end, “and thank God he did,” she concludes.


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‘Deontay Wilder’s costume didn’t make an ounce of difference’

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The designer of Tyson Fury’s boxing outfits has told BBC Radio 5 Live that Deontay Wilder’s ring-walk costume wouldn’t have impacted the result of the fight.

Melissa Anglesea is the creative director of Lancashire-based Suzi Wong. The company has made Tyson Fury’s shorts and robes since the start of his boxing career.

Wilder told US media that Fury didn’t actually hurt him, but he lost because his costume was too heavy meaning his legs were “shot” from the beginning of the fight.

Anglesea dismissed Wilder’s claim and said the costume worn by the American made “absolutely no ounce of difference”.

For more reaction to the fight, listen to 5 Live Boxing with Costello & Bunce on BBC Sounds.



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Keith Lemon star hits out at fake Caroline Flack t-shirts being sold online

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Comedian Leigh Francis says fake versions of the charity t-shirt he made following the death of his friend Caroline Flack are being sold online.

The actor – better known as Keith Lemon – accuses other people of “ripping off” his design, which he made to support The Samaritans.

And he’s urging websites remove the fakes to make sure as much money as possible goes to charity.

So far, more than 11,000 of his original Be Kind tees have been sold.

Caroline took her own life earlier this month and Keith had known her for years.

Launching his t-shirt, he said he wanted to spread her #BeKind message – and said all the profits would go to charity.

But fakes have started springing up online.

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Teechip

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Some of the fakes Newsbeat found for sale online

Radio 1 Newsbeat’s found a number of sites selling the fakes – originals can only be purchased through Keith Lemon’s own pages.

And the comedian’s put out a number of messages on Instagram, urging people not to buy the copies.

“Thanks so much to everyone who’s bought a t-shirt for Be Kind. Unfortunately, there’s a website called Teespring.com that’s ripped off the design and unless they’re going to give that money to The Samaritans, then they’ve stolen my design and taken that money that would’ve gone to The Samaritans,” he said.

He then posted another message to say the company had removed the fakes.

Teespring has since apologised, saying all designs are created by “independent individuals”. It also says the user’s account has been “disabled” and that it “doesn’t support this behaviour”.

The company hasn’t said whether it’ll be handing over any profits to charity – but fakes are turning up on a number of other sites too.

Newsbeat has contacted several of the sites selling fakes but so far, there has been no comment.


If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article and want help or information you can visit BBC Advice.

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.





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Harvey Weinstein accusers welcome rape and sexual assault conviction

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Media captionDistrict Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr: “Weinstein is a vicious, serial sexual predator”

Accusers of Harvey Weinstein have welcomed the guilty verdicts in the rape and sexual assault case against the former Hollywood mogul.

Actress Rose McGowan told the BBC “this is a great day”, while others said the ruling brought hope to victims that their voices would be heard.

Weinstein, 67, was convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act.

He was cleared of the most serious count of predatory sexual assault.

Weinstein faces up to 25 years in prison over the guilty verdicts relating to two women. His lawyers say he will appeal.

“I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?” Weinstein’s lawyer Arthur Aidala quoted his client as saying.

The former movie executive still faces charges in Los Angeles of assaulting two women in 2013.

In all, at least 80 women had accused him of sexual misconduct stretching back decades, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek.

The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that prompted women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.

Weinstein once enjoyed phenomenal success with Oscar winners such Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, The King’s Speech and Shakespeare in Love.

He was taken to New York’s Bellevue Hospital reportedly suffering from chest pains after the verdict was announced.

He had been due to be moved to prison on Riker’s Island to await sentencing.

What happened in the New York court?

The jury of seven men and five women reached their verdict on Monday morning, the fifth day of deliberations.

Weinstein – who denied all charges – was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a former aspiring actress, in 2013. The judge ordered him to be sent to jail immediately.

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Reuters

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Weinstein showed no emotion in the minutes after the verdict

But the jury acquitted him on two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence, and first-degree rape of Mann.

In the minutes after the verdict, Weinstein showed no emotion as he talked to his lead lawyer Donna Rotunno.

A third-degree rape charge in New York is defined as engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is incapable of consent, or under age 17, or who has not given consent for a reason other than the inability to consent.

Prosecutors portrayed Weinstein as a serial predator who used his position of power in Hollywood to manipulate and attack women.

The defence team said sex between the movie executive and the accusers was consensual, and that the accusers used it to advance their careers.

The allegations amounted to “regret renamed as rape”, the defence said. Two of the accusers kept in contact with Weinstein and had sex with him after the alleged attacks, they pointed out.

How did we get here?

  • Allegations against Weinstein began to emerge in October 2017, when the New York Times first reported incidents dating back decades
  • Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had “caused a lot of pain”, but disputed the allegations
  • As dozens more accusations emerged, Weinstein was sacked by the board of his company and all but banished from Hollywood
  • A criminal investigation was launched in New York in late 2017, but Weinstein was not charged until May 2018, when he turned himself in to police.
  • How the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfolded

What were the allegations in this case?

Ms Haleyi, who had worked on one of Weinstein’s television productions, said she was assaulted by the producer after he invited her to his Lower Manhattan home.

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Reuters

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Weinstein sexually assaulted former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006

She testified that he backed her into a bedroom, held her down on the bed and forced himself on her.

Ms Mann said that she found herself in an “extremely degrading” relationship with him that did not involve intercourse until he raped her in a New York City hotel room in 2013.

She said he was a “Jekyll and Hyde” figure who could be charming in public but showed his dark side when they were alone.

Another one of Weinstein’s accusers, Sopranos actress Annabella Sciorra, told jurors he raped her in her apartment one night in the mid-1990s.

  • Weinstein accuser: ‘No’ was a trigger for him

Her allegation was too old to be charged as a separate crime, but prosecutors used it in an attempt to demonstrate that the accused was a repeat sexual offender.

Following the verdict, Ms Sciorra said: “I spoke for myself and with the strength of the 80-plus victims of Harvey Weinstein in my heart.”

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Getty Images

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Jessica Mann (left) and Anabella Sciorra accused Weinstein of rape

Three other also women testified they were lured to apparent work meetings with Weinstein, then sexually assaulted.

What more reaction has there been?

Rose McGowan told the BBC’s Newshour programme: “The little girl I was when I was hurt, she’s ecstatic…This is a great day. The trash has been taken out.”

The actress, who was an early Weinstein accuser, added: “The fact that we are white women and attractive and of some means and it still took this many of us to even get him to have one day in court – just tells you…how almost impossible it is to even be heard, period, let alone [get] any kind of conviction.”

In a joint letter, actresses Ashley Judd, Lucia Evans and Rosanna Arquette and 19 other Weinstein accusers called it “disappointing that today’s outcome does not deliver the true, full justice that so many women deserve,” but expressed gratitude towards all the women who came forward to speak out against him.

Meanwhile, Ms Rotunno said that “the fight is not over”.

“Harvey is unbelievably strong. He took it like a man and he knows we will continue to fight for him and he knows that this is not over.”

Ms Rotunno said her client was disappointed, but “mentally tough”.

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Media captionHired by Weinstein to extract information on celebrities

What happens next?

  • Weinstein will be sentenced on 11 March
  • He still faces charges of rape and sexual assault in Los Angeles, and there are other cases under review, according to the county district attorney
  • Civil complaints against Weinstein continue to be fought
  • In December 2019, lawyers said they reached a tentative $25m (£19m) deal with some accusers



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