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


AE: How did you get ready for playing Tess, did you read the A-Z of Lesbian Sex like Ruta [Gedmintas] did?
FB: Yes, we all read that! We came up to Glasgow a couple of weeks before we started shooting.  It was really important for the cast to get to know each other because such close friendships and relationships are hard to fake unless you know and feel comfortable with them. We filmed episode one and two at the same time and Roxanne and I had an intense time filming our scenes and luckily we got on really well together. Plus I got to know Glasgow and got familiar with the places that the characters went out, worked, where Tess shopped and lived.

AE: The cast did seem to genuinely get on really well?
FB: Yes definitely, we’re still friends and I saw Ruta a few days ago for my birthday. Ruta and I came up from London together and shared the same apartment block — because James and Laura actually live in Glasgow — and were there for the whole shoot. We were very much roomies and she became my rock during filming.  I think they were lucky to find Ruta because Frankie is such a difficult part to play and she just transformed amazingly well. She did a phenomenal job.

AE: Would you be a team Frankie or team Sam?
FB: I think it’s hard to call and it’s good that people aren’t sure who they want Cat to be with. And because Sadie is such a great character, you’re not sure if you want Frankie to get back together with Cat or to be good to Sadie. I think all of the couples have great chemistry.

AE: Lou ended up messing you around but people are still rooting for them as a couple; how do you feel about their relationship?
FB: Roxanne and I both hoped that the audience would believe that Lou’s feelings towards Tess are genuine. I think she really does like Tess and although she probably has had sex with a woman before, this is her first proper relationship and she just found it too difficult.

In terms of her and Tess as a couple; I think Tess puts Lou on a pedestal a bit too much because she is so gorgeous. Tess has quite low self-esteem and she is shocked that someone like Lou would look twice at her.

AE: What do you think about Ed revealing his feelings for Tess — it was quite clear to everyone but her that he had been in love with her for a long time.
FB: It’s such a mixture of feelings when he tells her. It’s heightened because it’s on her 30th birthday and she’s feeling like a failure. She feels betrayed because it’s breaking the trust that they had together. It almost doesn’t matter that he’s a man or a woman; he was her best friend and this wasn’t in their contract. So she’s upset because she would never consider going out with a man, but even more because they are best, best friends and she feels that he has shattered that.

AE: This sort of storyline happens quite often in lesbian drama, but more often than not, the girl will go for it with the guy and a lot of viewers have been predicting with dread that she would go for it with Ed. 
FB: This revelation could ruin them for life; she would never have gone for it. Of all the characters on the show, I feel that Tess is the most comfortable with her sexuality. When I did my backstory for her and thought about her coming out, her feelings about being gay and her upbringing, I felt like she generally had quite an easy time of it and had understanding parents. She didn’t have a lot of issues, unlike someone like Cat, for instance, who had difficulty being accepted by her parents — which may be the cause of some of her uptight behaviour.

AE: What do you hope happens with Lip Service?
FB: I would love there to be a second series. I would love to see what other things could be thrown up. It feels really exciting to think we could carry on with these characters and see what happens to them next.

AE: You mentioned being in rehearsals for your new production — tell us a little about that?
FB: It a production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband and is on at the Vaudeville Theatre. I play Mabel Chiltern who Minnie Driver plays in the film. It will be nice because I’ve been doing quite a lot of telly recently and I’m looking forward to getting back to the theatre for a while.

An Ideal Husband is at the Vaudeville Theatre from now until February 19. And as if Fiona is not enough incentive to see it, the play also stars Tipping The Velvet’s Rachael Stirling.  Info and tickets from:

The final episode of Lip Service Season 1 will air on BBC3 on Tuesday 16th November.  Follow us on Twitter for live updates from the Finale Party that night @greatlezbritain.

"Great LezBritain" authors Sarah, a Londoner, and Lee,
a Glaswegian, met in a gay discotheque one bleak mid winter, eight
years ago and have been shacked up together ever since. When not
Tipping The Velvet,
they find time to write, run a PR company, DJ at their own club
nights and love a bit of jam on toast. Follow them on Twitter at greatlezbritain.

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