The Secret Diary of a Call Girl Reviewed (Part 2)

Wednesday 06th January 2016

So did our review of The Secret Diary of a Call Girl whet your appetite and make you want to hunt down the series? Or would you like a little more input from some of the people who've already watched Billie Piper in the leading role as Belle the high class London escort?

Let's stay with some of the positive reviews for starters.

One very positive review comes from a guy in the UK who described the first series as 'cheeky, sassy and sexy'. That seems to sum up perfectly many men's idea of escort girls in London. They want them to be sexy, but to also have an confident attitude and exude the feeling that they just love what they do. It appears that this reviewer was particularly enamoured from the very first episode, as he said that he found it 'fast, raunchy and jaw-dropping'. As the series was first aired way back in 2007, that's probably an indicator of the fact that television was becoming much more liberal in what it chose to show at peak viewing times, although it is true to say that it was aired on ITV2 rather than the mainstream channel. The reviewer confirms that Billie Piper was an excellent choice for the role of Belle, and praised the way in which the story unfolded, allowing us to see her progression in the profession and the strategies she used to keep her double life secret, an issue that still remains for many escorts in London and indeed elsewhere even today.

Another viewer from the United Kingdom describes the series as 'a revitalising eye opener into the mysterious secret world', claiming that while prostitution is a topic that we all talk about, in some ways we're afraid to delve too deeply, and that there are still many taboos attached to the profession.  It appears that this particular reviewer didn't watch the series when it originally aired on ITV2, but caught the series almost 6 years later. Describing it as 'brilliant', he rated it far more highly than the recently released '50 Shades of Grey', although to be fair, while the common denominator of both stories is sex, they don't exactly deal with the same issues. He concludes by saying that while, at first glance, you may think that it's going to be sleazy, with plenty of sex and degrading remarks and one liners, it's actually intimate, dramatic and funny. Once again, he praised Piper's performance, saying that her confidence shines through, throughout the series. 

Without giving away too many spoilers, this reviewer found the portrayal of the life as a high class call girl fascinating. He was intrigued by the clients' revelations and fantasies, by how money changed hands, the interactions between the escorts, and the fun that they had with their clients. Maybe that is something that has surprised some viewers as, far from being sleazy, it portrays escorting as a fun activity and suggests that many escorts do have a genuine interest in their clients' lives and in finding ways to help them to fulfil their fantasies, and well, make their lives a little better. However, far from being just about the physical aspects of sex, the series explores our desires, how we deal with sex and relationships, how we deceive others, how we crave exotic fantasies and how visiting escorts can give you a brief feeling of freedom from the mundane reality of life.

A male reviewer from Brazil watched all four series, comprising 42 episodes in total. He admits that his initial motivation for watching it was the lovely Billie Piper but that once he started, he actually enjoyed it. In fact, so much so, that he spent every spare minute he had over three days watching it. He found it light-hearted, funny and interesting.



As you can see from the positive reviews so far, many viewers started watching The Secret Diary of a Call Girl with preconceived ideas, but that those ideas where actually turned around the more episodes they watched. One female reviewer from New Zealand actually admits to being surprised by how good the series actually was. This particular viewer had already read Belle's Diary several years prior to the TV series, and was intrigued to see how the book would be adapted for television, especially as she believed that the British tend to tackle more controversial topics better than the American media. She also admits that at first she was a bit sceptical about Billie Piper taking on the role of the main character, however this scepticism soon disappeared as she watched the professionalism with which Piper handled playing Hannah/Belle.  In fact, she was so impressed that she ended up watching all 8 episodes of the first series in one night! How's that for a recommendation?

It seems that women in particular were attracted to and enjoyed The Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Perhaps it's because they believed that it gave them an insight into the world of prostitution, showing it in a glamorous light, rather than the hard edged reality of the street prostitutes. Lucy from Australia absolutely loved the series, finding it funny and entertaining with plenty of romance and drama. She particularly liked how the show explored the effect of being a high class call girl on Hannah's love life, and the reactions of the men she dated when they found out what she did for a living. She also commented very positively on the way in which Hannah narrated her story, citing it as one of her favourite things about the series.

Another female viewer, this time from England, gave the show a resounding 10/10 admitting that she had watched three series in a row over one weekend. She describes it as being down-to-earth, gritty and real, although she doesn't appear to have any real life experience of escorting, so we can't really take her word for it.

David, another viewer from the UK reviewed both Season 1 and Season 2, giving them a score of 7/10. While he did enjoy the show for what it was, he was of the opinion that the first series succeeded mainly because it was a 'piece of seedy voyeurism' rather than an intelligent portrayal of the sex industry. However, he did concede that there were some successful comedic moments, one in particular where Belle was required to play the role of a dominatrix. He also suggests that the original author of the diary, was a 'bit fantastical with her claims' about her life as a sex industry worker, and doubted whether any escorts really lived in such a swanky apartment, or led such a glamorous and exciting life.

Moving onto Season 2, David talks about an episode where Hannah attempts to experience a 'normal life of dating and relationships', a situation which forces her to explore and question what it is that she actually wants out of life. However, he does sound rather disappointed that the racy sex scenes that dominated the first series are not so frequent in this series, and that it tended to focus more on the human dramas faced by Belle. He also predicted that there wouldn't be a Series 3 - a prediction that was totally wrong as the producers went on to make two more series.

While many reviewers did find the series to be both entertaining and enlightening, as with any show, film or book, there were others that didn't have an entirely positive experience. One viewer from the UK, presumably male, found it 'irredeemably passé', saying that while ITV thought that they were breaking new ground by airing this TV adaptation of Belle de Jour's diary, in reality it was just a re-hash of a mixture of programmes, and that it wasn't in the least bit controversial. In truth, he does have a point, but the series was never meant to be anything more than a light-hearted romp. He also rates the sex scenes as lacking in any kind of eroticism, saying that none of the cast members or indeed the production crew seemed comfortable while filming them.

As you would expect, the vast majority of viewers hadn't read the original book on which the series was based. One particular viewer was disappointed that the original character of Belle had been changed quite dramatically for the TV series. Rather than coming across as a raunchy, funny and extremely in-control woman, the character portrayed by Billie Piper was a 'nice, but flat Ann Summers girl'. The relationship with Ben was also given a different slant. In the book, he has long conversations with Hannah about different aspects of sex, whereas in the TV series he doesn't even realise that she is an escort.

One reviewer found that while the series was funny and entertaining, it didn't actually lead the watcher anywhere. But isn't that what diaries are all about? They just document life as it happens, they don't necessarily have a conclusion. He talks about there being a semblance of a longstanding plot, but that at the end you're back where you started. However, he still managed to give it a 7/10 rating, stating that it has an addictive quality, in that once you start watching you just have to see what happens next. In common with other viewers, he didn't find the sex scenes erotic, and agreed with other reviewers that they had a slightly awkward edge to them. Once again, this is possibly an accurate reflection of sex between escorts and clients. It's not always going to be erotic or comfortable. Many of them are meeting each other for the first time, and we all know what can happen in those situations don't we?

Perhaps the most negative review came from a viewer in France who found it to be 'one of the biggest piles of rubbish to be shown on TV in a while', giving it a measly 3/10. Despite the fact that he only actually watched 3 episodes of the show, he found it extremely dull, with no actual plot. Furthermore, while he thought that series was supposed to show that prostitution isn't all about drugs and violence, he felt that this viewpoint didn't come across well enough and consequently, the series ended up being nothing more than soft porn.

So what do we make of The Secret Diary of a Call Girl? Well, you could say that it's a light-hearted and fun portrayal of life as a high-class call girl in London which shouldn't be taken too seriously as it tends to over glamorous the good bits and gloss over the negatives. However, if you're looking for an insight into the ways in which men seek pleasure from escorts, and how escorts view their clients, then you could be in for a very pleasant few hours. Just don't take it seriously. The series was never intended as a 'bare-all' portrayal of the sex industry. If you want to know what really goes on in the London escorting scene, you'd do far better to watch or documentary, or why not find out first hand by booking a meeting with one of our London escorts yourself?