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Sian Clifford discusses roots of Fleabag miscarriage scene

The actress plays Fleabag’s sister Claire.

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Sian Clifford believes TV comedy is undergoing an ‘evolution’ (Matt Crossick/PA)

Sian Clifford believes TV comedy is undergoing an ‘evolution’ (Matt Crossick/PA)

Sian Clifford believes TV comedy is undergoing an ‘evolution’ (Matt Crossick/PA)

Fleabag actress Sian Clifford has said the show’s famous miscarriage scene is a product of women being able to talk about things that are part of their daily lives.

The first episode of the second series saw Clifford’s character Claire discover she has had a miscarriage while in the toilet during an awkward family dinner at a restaurant.

She says to her sister Fleabag, played by the show’s creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge: “Just get your hands off my miscarriage. It’s mine. It’s mine.”

Speaking during a Bafta comedy panel, Clifford said: “I think humans are inherently hilarious, and actually, if you just play it straight down the line, it will be funny.

“And I think you’ve played the truth of situation, I think that’s why comedy is the truly experimental space where we’re actually trying to bust through in our paradigm.

“I think that’s the only place where TV is truly having a kind of evolution, because people are willing to take risks by which I mean, like, the creators, not the gate keepers. And guess what, guys, there’s no risk.

“So with that scene you just have to play the truth. And that’s why I think it doesn’t matter what script you’re presented with.

“Genre is so restrictive, and I feel like we’re in a space where there might be a need to move beyond it, because I don’t think things fit in so neatly anymore to, like, these binary ideas.

“I don’t think it necessarily serves the medium, and if you look at the projects that are represented and being recognised by Bafta this year, I think it’s exciting that audiences are actually hungry for more complex and human stories.”

She added: “That miscarriage, that’s based on a real thing that happened to a friend of Phoebe’s.

“It wasn’t at dinner, but she was at a business lunch, and she had a miscarriage in the bathroom and then went back to her business lunch because she had no other point of reference. She was like, ‘I have to just carry on’.

“And initially, I think there was a whole Twitter backlash, because people were like, ‘oh, that would never happen’, and then, like, all these women’s stories came out that said, ‘that happened to me,’ and it’s unbelievably common.

“It’s never spoken about and women are being given more (opportunities) to talk about these things that are just so natural and part of our day-to-day lives.”

The author Elizabeth Day has previously revealed on her podcast How To Fail that the scene is based on her own experience.

Speaking to Waller-Bridge, she said: “And I was actually incredibly honoured and so happy that you were taking that and using it and giving it a platform that was necessary.

“And when I watched that scene, I felt really emotional, in all of the best ways, because that is a story that doesn’t get told enough. And I want to thank you for doing it.”

PA