Writers and performers Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson’s hit live show Britney which tells the true story of enduring friendship amidst a brain tumour (called Britney) diagnosis has now been made into a BBC Three show starring Charly, Ellen, Omid Djalili, Tony Gardner and Lia Williams.
Charly and Ellen have been best friends ever since a shared moment of transformational theatre in Year eight Drama Club. 10 years on, Charly is leaving New York and a dubious career in Broadway leafleting to visit Ellen back in their home village of Cumwell. Neither of them can wait to relive the glory days of their friendship: a non-stop romcom of hair crimping, MmmBop and an unhealthy level of co-dependence. But Ellen soon discovers that Charly isn’t planning on moving back permanently, crushing the dream they’d always shared of living in London together.
Now at odds and no longer as inseparable as they’d imagined, Charly discovers that her mysterious lack of periods is a result of something much bigger and scarier. Their world is suddenly tipped upside down as they fight to make sure their friendship romcom has a happy ending. We caught up with Charly and Ellen to talk about the show…
Funny Women: Tell us about your show Britney.
Charly & Ellen: Britney is the true story of our friendship and this quite mad thing we both went through in 2016, when Charly was diagnosed with a brain tumour called a pituitary adenoma.
FW: You wrote and performed a brilliant live version of Britney for a while, how does it feel to now have a TV version of the show?
C&E: It’s an incredible feeling. We love the live show so much and for a while we thought that stage version was the only way we could tell the story the way we wanted to but then Drama Republic were like ‘guys, make it for TV however you want. No really’ So we did and we’re very grateful and proud of the TV version because it wasn’t just the two of us in our living room thinking this could be a cool thing, it was lots of people we admire in an office in Holborn saying this could be a cool thing and now it’s quite a cool thing.
FW: Alongside the difficult subject of a brain tumour, Britney seems like it contains a love letter to the intensity of teenage female friendship. Was that intentional?
C&E: Yes, that’s definitely the heart of the show. Not just teenage friendship either but the intensity, necessity, and hilarity of female friendships as they migrate into adulthood. Our friendship is an amazing and quite all-encompassing thing and it was always something we were going to mine for attention.
FW: You’ve maintained a professional relationship on top of a friendship for some time now, do you have any tips on balancing these aspects of your relationship?
C&E: Make time for both
Celebrate the small stuff as often as you can
Share your snacks/wine
FW: Who are your favourite funny women?
C&E: There are so so many but to name a few: Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, Lolly Adefope, Heidi Regan, Jayde Adams, Emma Sidi… and of course the funniest woman of all time, Sarah Palin.
Britney is available on BBC Three from 30th November