Great LezBritain: Interview with Fiona Button of “Lip Service”

“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.

This is sadly the last of our Lip Servant interviews, even though Fiona Button was actually the first Lip Servant that we interviewed – before we had seen any of the show, or ever seen her act in a scene on set. 

On the day we met, she was ready for the botox scene with Ed, and she and James were hanging out in the green room, having a laugh and behaving very much like we’ve seen Ed and Tess behave for the last five weeks. We did the interview, drank James’ coffee and left thinking that they were lovely, genuine people and wrote up the interview.

Then we saw the first episode and realised immediately that we were going to absolutely adore Tess and her daft, comical and endearing ways. We knocked out all six episodes of Lip Service one lovely night (courtesy of the BBC) and a common conversation recurred over and over:

Lee: I love Tess.
Sarah: I love Tess.

We could have written another 10 recaps entitled “The Curious Faces of Fiona Button.” But we didn’t, instead we thought our original interview would not suffice so we phoned her and did it again. We spoke to Fiona about working with Dame Judi Dench, her thoughts on all things Tess and her hopes for a second series. What had you been up to before Lip Service?
Fiona Button: I left drama school three years ago and I focused more on theatre than television. Lip Service is my first leading role on television but I’ve done a lot of theatre, including a play with Judi Dench and I’m about to be on the West End for the fourth time.

AE: Dame Judi Dench, oh my goodness that’s mighty impressive.
FB: It was incredible. The play was called Madame de Sade and I played her daughter. An extremely surreal experience walking into work on the first day and there was Judi. It was just amazing to be in a rehearsal room with her and watch a legend at work. She’s so humble and kind and would never impose herself on anyone, but she did give me some pronunciation advice and she was happy to help if you needed anything.

AE: What was the Lip Service casting process like for you?
FB: It was really lengthy, the process began back in July 2009 and each audition was really testing. The first call back was three hours long and I had to read with lots of other people. Then I was in a play in London and the entire production staff of Kudos and the BBC execs all came to see it which was the most nerve-wracking night of my life.

AE: Were you always reading for Tess and why did you want to play her?
FB: Yes, always. I was actually the last of the three main girls to be cast. I loved the script from the beginning and I really identified with Tess. I loved her humour and that she doesn’t take life too seriously and I can definitely sympathise with auditions going wrong. I also really liked the central friendships that she has in the show with the other girls and also her friendship with Ed which is a major part of Tess’s storyline.

AE: How did working in television compare with theatre?
FB: It was a whole different ball game doing television and it took some getting used to. You’re always learning when you’re acting but this was a massive learning curve. I have done television before but nothing as big and certainly nothing as important to me. I fell in love with Tess and so it was important for me to do her justice.