Great LezBritain: Interview with “Lip Service” creator Harriet Braun

“Great LezBritian” is a fortnightly stroll through the very best of British lesbo-centric entertainment and culture. Plus there will be some jolly good interviews with the top ladies who are waving the flag for gay UK.

As the co-creator of the excellent Attachments and writer of Mistresses, Harriet Braun already knows what it feels like to have a hit show on her hands.  But with the entire lesbian population of the UK — and their lesbi-friends around the world — waiting with increasing giddy impatience for her new lesbian drama Lip Service to air, she may be about to enter a whole new realm of fandom.

As well as being the show’s creator and writer, Braun is also the co-producer and she spent most days on set watching the filming and giving notes. We went to meet her on the last day of filming last winter — on possibly the coldest day since time began — to find out how the show had been commissioned, where the characters came from and whether she was nervous about how it will be received. How did Lip Service come about?
Harriet Braun: I was talking to Derek Wax at Kudos generally about working with him and then he came to me with this very wide brief which was to write a lesbian series.  I said yes, and then went away thinking wow, that’s the brief? Go write a lesbian series?

AE: Isnt that a great brief to just be able to do what you want?
HB: Yes, definitely fun once you have a proper idea but there were a few moments of: “Where do I start?”  And basically it started with an idea, an image I had of someone going for an audition, but a really terrible audition and that was the first imagery, then I had an ex lover returning from somewhere. So the script started from little things like that and then it grew.

AE: What was the reaction when you took the script back to the producers?
: They were pleased with it — in that they said yes let’s do it, let’s go forward. But of course when you begin working with the producers and take notes then the whole thing develops and changes slightly.

AE: Was the show or any of the characters based on your own experiences or people you know?
I think when writing any characters in a drama they are like a collage. You take little bits of people you know then they all filter through you. I think really every character has a little bit of you in them. The thing is, even if you were to base characters completely on people you know, they evolve so much in the process. Once the producers, the actors all get their hands on them they become very different from the thing that you originally put on the page.

AE: I always remember Amy Jenkins saying that when she wrote This Life, the character Anna is the person that she would actually like to be although in reality she bears no resemblance.
HB: There is definitely an element of wish fulfillment when you create a character. I absolutely think that you write the lines that you wish you had said. With your characters, you can make them say those really great, witty things that you would never actually think of until you’ve left the conversation. It is really enjoyable to have the chance through them! (Laughs)

AE: From what we have seen on set, the atmosphere is really fun and the script is more humorous and less issue driven than some would perhaps expect a lesbian drama to be?
Well what I really like is to write comedy or what I call tragicomedy. I often think the most painful moments in life can also be the funniest. Moments of weakness or when things go wrong, seem like a tragedy at the time but with hindsight are really comical. So while I always knew that I wanted to explore themes of love and rage, desire and jealousy, I definitely wanted it to be funny.