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Flack: Insults, lies and hiding from Conor McGregor - Lydia Wilson's secrets from the set
Lydia Wilson, star of cut throat drama Flack spills the beans on celebrity spin.
Lydia Wilson’s TV character, foul-mouthed celebrity PR Eve, is the ultimate scene-stealer in W's dark and hilarious series Flack.
Starring opposite Hollywood star Anna Paquin, Wilson's Eve is a morally bankrupt character, oozing privilege and stinking of money.
But despite issuing some of the most humiliating and dirty put-downs to junior members of the PR company, there is something simultaneously horrifyingly and endearing about the person hidden beneath the dark heart and jagged tongue.
BT TV caught up with Lydia to get five secrets from the set of the unmissable show, which started in February 2019.
Playing a character with no filter is a hell of a lot of fun
"It was so relaxing to have no filters. She's really cool," says Lydia, reminiscing about her first series as Eve. "I miss her."
It was tough being dastardly to new PR recruit Melody, played by Rebecca Benson, but Lydia said that the harder challenge was everyone on the set keeping a straight face.
"Rebecca set her stall out early, she's an incredible tough woman who you do not mess with. So it was really fun, because nothing I could say would hurt her. It was really delicious," said Lydia.
"She's such a great actor. I forgot how vile I was being because I just loved her timing, her responses and it was really fun."
Reflecting on why viewers might enjoy Eve so much, she said: "On the one hand, you want to crack her open and see why she’s so vile. On the other you just want to let her wear the crown."
Lydia really hopes Conor McGregor has a sense of humour
The show regularly blurs the lines between reality and fiction by creating characters such as bed-hopping celebrity chefs or troubled teen reality stars for the central storylines and throws in references to real life figures – such as notorious UFC star Conor McGregor.
Eve has a running storyline in the first episode about the infamous brawler wanting to launch his own line of children’s books.
"I was so freaking scared. Conor, if you’re reading this, don’t come for me. Oh God!" she laughs.
"When I was reading it, I asked, can we not just use someone else just in case?"
Writer Oliver Lansley is the 'Shakespeare of insults'
The brutal put-downs that Robyn and Eve deliver to their unfortunate clients and colleagues are reminiscent of the coarse dialogue in The Thick Of It.
The man behind the Malcolm Tucker-esque flurry of foul-mouthed gags is writer Oliver Lansley and, according to Lydia, some of his even ruder jokes were left on the cutting room floor.
"Olly is like the Shakespeare of insults," she said.
"He’s so creative and disgusting. We would be telling him, ‘you can’t say that, we need a clean version’. There would be things that are so filthy, we’d worry about his health.
"It's like a sport. Watching Olly come up with them is hilarious.
"He looks like a little angel and his eyes would drift up to the corner of the room and you knew that he’d gone really, really dark."
Anna Paquin’s Robyn made everyone stand up and take notice
"I've always found her captivating as a performer,” said Lydia, praising the True Blood star who also worked as an executive producer on the series.
"Anna has always walked an independent line. I knew that she would bring a depth to it and watching the show back I was really amazed how she portrays the toxic part of the character in a really dangerous way.
"She could have reduced it down and played it for laughs, but she really goes for it and has been quite dangerous with it. My respect for her just goes up and up."
In the first episode, Anna's character Robyn confronts a sleazy celebrity chef with a fiery and brutal speech, after he claims that women get away with a lot more than women.
The unforgettable scene made a big impact on all the cast from the first read-through.
"It stood out because strikes a chord with what so many people are thinking and feeling right now," said Lydia.
"With this [MeToo] movement right now, people are still searching for the words still. There is a lot of anger, but I don’t think the vocabulary is quite there yet.
"To have it all laid out in one lovely speech, it really resonated with me. It’s delicious to have something voiced that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
"It also goes one step further and shows that women don’t have to be perfect to deserve equality and respect. The women aren’t angels, they are complicated and flawed. That message is close to everyone’s heart."
Celebrities should be running scared
Viewers will probably enjoy attempting to guess the real life celebrities that Flack’s misbehaving characters might be based. Lydia believes that they are more likely to be “hybrids” of real public figures, which is probably a relief for a few famous sleazeballs, but argues that what happens in real life might be even more sordid than fiction.
"Flack is like a cordial version, undiluted,” said Lydia. “But I asked my friend who does some personal PR and she said that anything you can imagine, it is very possibly happening.
"I met a PR guru, who let me shadow them, and he sat me down and explained to me the narrative arc of a British tabloid story. It was really mathematical, explaining exactly what the PRs do and what the tabloids do. The example was of an ordinary person that does something extraordinary and then how they have a fall from grace.
"It was all about this precise timing. It was amazing to see how these things are almost pre-ordained."
Did you base Eve on anyone you have met?
Oh yeah. But I can’t say. Definitely one person I know, blended in with a few more iconic people, but I can’t possibly say.
What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?
I play it so safe. I’m so paranoid, so I wouldn’t. I can’t do it. I couldn’t steal a free CD from a magazine.
Have you ever lied on your CV?
Acting. I say that I can act.
Most actors lie that they can ride a horse…
I didn’t do that for my fear of being cast as a jockey. Life is scary enough, don’t do that.
If you could PR your own life what would you do?
Oh my god. All my fantasies are about… I do just sit and read Luke Rhinehart who pretended he died and disappeared. All mine are about disappearing.
Do you mean like making up a story about rescuing a baby from a burning building? I think I’ll stick to the truth. I take it all too seriously.