TV review: Fleabag Series 2, BBC One (4 stars)

TV review: Fleabag Series 2, BBC One

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's despicable creation returns for more cringeworthy awfulness

The opening scene to Fleabag's return is certainly eye-catching. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is in a fancy bathroom wiping blood from her face before handing a towel to a woman crouched on the floor. In a reference that will delight followers of the theatre life of Fleabag, the other woman is played by Maddie Rice, who performed the original play when it started touring.

We move from the gory scene back in time a couple of hours (and '371 days, 19 hours & 26 minutes' after the end of series one) to a restaurant gathering which you just know is doomed from the beginning. In attendance are Fleabag's father (Bill Paterson) and her subtly wicked godmother (the Oscars-anointed Olivia Colman), sister Claire (Sian Clifford) and her unhinged and now wildly bearded husband Martin (Brett Gelman) who seemed pretty much done as a couple in the last series, but are hanging on to each other like a pair of desperate threads. Alongside Fleabag herself is a new character, a sweary, smoking priest (Andrew Scott) who is soon to bring dad and godmum together in unholy matrimony.

As you can imagine, it doesn't take any time at all for events to take a dip into their passive-aggressive worst, with 'needy waitress' (Rice) putting everyone on extra edge with her fussing about (for the record, and in case you were worried, 'arsehole guy' remains in the closing credits). Trapping the entire episode in one room is an excellent flourish to a show that already has a cloying claustrophobia in its DNA, with the likelihood of ill-will and chaos in the 'dead cert' category.

Happily, Waller-Bridge has toned down on the to-camera gestures, nods, winks and soliloquies that often bordered on the irritating, letting the terror unfold without the same level of fourth-wall breaking interventions. Alongside Scott, other big names to show up this time around include Kristin Scott Thomas and Fiona Shaw, no doubt playing individuals whose awkwardness or monstrosity will try (with little success) to put Fleabag in the shade.

Episodes watched: One of six

Fleabag Series 2 starts on BBC One, Monday 4 March, 10.35pm

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