Speaking during the BAFTA Television session The Making of Fleabag, Waller-Bridge spoke about creating the now-iconic character of The Priest, explaining she wanted a love interest for Fleabag who could “match her intelligence and perceptiveness”.
During the session, Waller-Bridge revealed that Fleabag’s ‘fourth wall’ relationship with the camera is “mirrored” by The Priest’s relationship and ‘fourth-walling’ with God – both feel like they’re respectively being watched and “witnessed” the entire time.
The link between the camera and The Priest’s God is underlined during the season two finale, when Fleabag chooses to bid farewell to the camera – but The Priest chooses to stay in the priesthood.
Waller-Bridge explained, “[Fleabag] has a relationship with the camera the whole way through, and it was interesting to have someone who has a similar thing, he’s mirrored [because] he has God. And she’s witnessed by the camera the whole way through, and in the end, the big question for her is whether or not she can let go of the camera – and he’s witnessed by God the whole time, and is always having to check into that the whole time. And in the end he has the same question, so I just felt like it would be a really good way to mirror each other’s journeys.”
Asked whether she imagined anyone specific whom Fleabag is speaking to when she breaks the fourth wall, Waller-Bridge said that she saw the unseen presence more symbolically – and the same for The Priest.
“I feel like it’s that pressure of being watched, and feeling watched, and feeling like if you’re not being witnessed, does what you’re doing count for anything, does it matter?… She’s constantly grappling with this need for the audience to validate her,” she added, before stating, “It’s a really fraught… relationship.”
“For me it was more about that, and the same for him [The Priest], constantly questioning – there’s a pressure on him the whole time, asking him if he’s a good person.”
Last year RadioTimes.com exclusively revealed that Marks & Spencer had seen a 24 per cent rise in sales of its own-brand canned gin and tonics in the week following Fleabag season two episode two, which saw the Priest share a couple of cans with Fleabag.