From philandering TV chefs and fallen reality TV stars to disgraced comedians – Anna Paquin's drug-taking, morally dubious PR guru Robyn is out to save their careers and make all their problems disappear.
Flack is a new TV series from writer Oliver Lansley about a PR agency that specialises in crisis management for celebrities who find themselves in a spot of bother.
Joining Paquin in the peek behind the curtain into the sordid world of showbiz are a sizzling cast including Lydia Wilson, Genevieve Angelson, Sophie Okonedo, Rebecca Benson and Rufus Jones. And every week they are joined by a gaggle of dazzling guest stars including Alan Davies, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Abbington, Katherine Kelly and Max Beesley.
Flack airs Thursdays at 10pm on W (BT channel number 311/383 HD)
Here is the cast’s guide to why you don’t want to miss out on Flack.
Writer Oli Lansley is the best in the business
"It's was Oli’s absurdly anarchically funny writing that drew me to Flack," reveals Academy Award winner Anna Paquin.
"I was reading it and thinking, 'I'm either a terrible human being or this is the best thing I’ve ever read in my entire life'. And I think it's the latter."
She added: "I've never had a show give me so much opportunity. The word dramedy drives me crazy, but I wish I could make a reel of just scenes on this show. It refuses to be one thing. It’s a coin rolling on one side without ever being one thing or another."
Co-star Genevieve Angelson said: "I just read it and thought, 'Which theatre is putting this on? What? This is for television?'
"Writing isn't supposed to be this good for TV. It was just the funniest, most surprising and most dangerous writing. I live and work typically in the United States and I don't want to put myself out of work, but you guys are better at TV here. I was thrilled with what this gave me a chance to do."
Robyn is your new feminist hero
"Robyn is a wonderfully human person who is an absolute ****-up in her own life," said Paquin.
"But for all the reasons that she is a disaster, they also make her fantastic at her job. That was very exciting. I think she's someone that myself and a lot of people can relate to.
It's a peek into the secretive world of PR
"I've had the same PR person since I was 12 and I’m now 36. And I'm annoyingly boring. But the world of PR is very fascinating and interesting in the way it spins what you put out into the world and also how you want to be seen by the world. That includes twisting things that are unfortunately not so flattering," said Paquin.
Lydia Wilson, who plays Robyn’s foul-mouthed colleague and friend Eve, spent a day shadowing a real PR agency before filming the series.
"It was completely new to me. I went to a PR agency who opened their doors to me and I was knackered by 10.30am. I arrived at 10am," she laughed.
"They were so generous, but it was exhausting and high octane. It gave me a huge respect for these people."
"Genevieve and I fell completely in love. And I’m not entirely sure how we didn’t come out of the same genetic package," said Paquin.
Retelling the story of how they cast the role of Robyn's sister, the former True Blood star said: “Me and the rest of the producing team were in London, casting for all the roles and over lunch time we were sent audition tapes for the people auditioning for Ruth.
"I watched Genevieve's tape and we just said, 'That's Ruth. We need her. Right now.' None of us met her, we just knew and I knew. I was sold that she was my sister. It was love at first glimpse of footage. I was blessed."
Genevieve joked: "I fooled them."
Eve and Melody
Your new favourite TV double act, Eve and Melody, are the two different perspectives on the dark arts of PR.
Melody (Rebecca Benson) is the shiny newcomer, all wide-eyed and giddy about meeting the stars of stage and screen, while Eve (Lydia Wilson) is the brutal, black-hearted cynic, who has nothing but foul-mouthed insults for her new colleague.
"I have enjoyed playing really nice girls that turn into psychopaths in the last minute, so it was nice to play Melody – a genuine sweet little girl, trying to do her best," said Benson.
"Being very general, she gets more jaded, she gets a little bit sneakier. She’s gets a little bit more daring. And she lets loose a little bit. This is because she has some really interesting role models in Eve and Robyn."
Wilson said: "I think there’s a love affair with Eve and Melody, which is why she treats her so bad. There is a vulnerability to her, I think. But it’s also very exciting to play someone who is a total sass attack. I miss her."
Rufus Jones is hilarious
Men take a backseat in Flack, but Rufus Jones (W1A) makes the most of playing Robyn’s brother-in-law Mark.
"There is a very specific psychological type that describes Mark. It’s a scientific phrase. He’s basically a bit of a d**head. I’ve had some experience playing d**heads, I give good d***head," joked Jones.
"He's a good man that tells a small lie and the lie gets bigger, and bigger and eventually it threatens him and his family. His character in another would be a sitcom character because he’s quite farcical.
"But Oli’s writing is extraordinary and they established early on that the characters weren’t funny. You play the funny stuff seriously and the serious stuff funnily. It’s a credit to Oli’s writing. It’s contrary and unpredictable."
The women are in control
"Of all the people, I’m probably the most qualified to talk about this,” jokes Rufus.
"I owe an awful lot of my career to Julia Davis. I’ve done four shows with her in the last 10 years and she has terribly strong female characters, female crew and I feel like I’ve grown up as an actor in a female-centric environment on screen.
"That possibly makes me in the minority, but this is a continuation for me. Having women in the cast and crew is extremely important and has changed in my eyes in the British TV industry in the last two years. I have two twin girls. They're three-years-old, I'm exhausted. I'm dominated by women is what I’m trying to say. And I couldn’t be happier."
Genevieve Angelson added: "I have been on shows where they are a deliberately feminist show. But this is the most feminist show I've ever done.
"The speech Anna gives in the first episode is so right on and I love that without any of the bells and whistles of being a show about women’s equality, it brings in viewers who might not be drawn to that. And it creates unbelievable roles for women with incredible things to say."
Episode 1 guide
Oliver Lansley’s (Whites) series introduces Robyn (Anna Paquin), a hugely capable American PR executive working in London who specialises in clearing up the monumental messes caused by her hapless and selfish clients. Although utterly in command of her job, her personal life is spinning out of control.
Robyn thrives in the work environment. There she enjoys close relationships with her office “family”: her tyrannical, yet impressive boss Caroline (Sophie Okonedo), her tirelessly hedonistic yet brilliant colleague, Eve (Lydia Wilson), and her endlessly willing intern, Melody (Rebecca Benson). If there is media fire that needs putting out, who you gonna call? Robyn.
Guest stars include: Max Beesley
Episode 2 guide
Robyn’s (Anna Paquin) reverie about taking drugs in a noisy nightclub is interrupted as she comes round and realises she is in fact at an NA meeting in a community centre.
Trying to turn off her persistently ringing phone in her handbag, Robyn inadvertently tips out a cocaine bullet, much to the amusement of Tom (Marc Warren), the man sitting next to her at the NA meeting.
At a crisis meeting the next morning with Summer Bolton, a former BGT winner who is about to be dropped by her record label, Robyn and Eve cook up the idea of making a leaking a lesbian sex tape to keep Summer in the headlines.
As Robyn’s fertility app alerts her that her period is five days late, a desperate Mark calls on her at the office. He discloses that he lost his job three months ago. He hasn’t dared tell Ruth and now needs Robyn’s help. So, she gives him a job leaking Summer’s sex tape…
Guest stars include: Indra Ove (Unforgotten), Holli Dempsey (Emmerdale) and Chu Omambala (Liar)
Flack airs Thursdays at 10pm on W (BT channel number 311/383 HD).
W is one of the 60+ premium channels available on BT TV, including UKTV channels Gold, Dave and Alibi.