Andrew Scott as the "Hot Priest" in Fleabag
(Prime Video/BBC)

What Do You MEAN Amazon Execs Almost Robbed Us of ‘Fleabag’s Hot Priest?!

What kind of world would we be living in had Andrew Scott not been cast as Fleabag’s “Hot Priest”? I don’t think any of us can imagine it, and yet, that world genuinely almost existed.

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As revealed by Radio Times, “there were calls to remove Scott just days before filming” of Fleabag season 2 was meant to start. Former BBC Director of Comedy Shane Allen, who originally commissioned the series, told Radio Times that, when Amazon co-financed the second season of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s groundbreaking traumatic sitcom, the company’s executives just couldn’t keep their terrible opinions to themselves.

According to Allen, a whole host of Amazon’s American execs showed up at season 2’s readthrough, demanding that Andrew Scott be recast with just four days left to go before filming was due to commence. Apparently, that wasn’t enough, as Allen also mentioned that the suits “[tore] the show apart” in its entirety, too. Interestingly, Allen made a point of mentioning that all the execs were male, making their criticism of Waller-Bridge’s creative choices—including Scott’s casting—all the more egregious given the show was an intimate and personal exploration of a young woman’s grief and relentless self-destructive tendencies.

How could these U.S. execs possibly know what was right for this story? Why couldn’t they just trust the process? There must have been a reason for Amazon to invest in the show in the first place. They must have seen the potential. Executives are not creatives for a reason.

Clearly, not casting Andrew Scott would have been a colossal mistake, and Shane credits Waller-Bridge with standing up for her show and Scott’s casting. “Anyone less effervescently charming and smart than Phoebe would have buckled,” he told the magazine.

Why mess with perfection?

Fleabag and the "Hot Priest."
(Prime Video/BBC)

Let’s be honest, Waller-Bridge and the casting directors absolutely knew what they were doing. To this day, Scott’s portrayal of the unnamed Hot Priest remains a firm fan favorite, so much so that Scott himself jokingly pointed out earlier this year during a red carpet interview with Entertainment Weekly that fans still watching and “crying” over Fleabag should go outside and “get some fresh air.” There’s no denying the impact his portrayal had on the series, though. His chemistry with Waller-Bridge and his innate charm and charisma made Fleabag’s Hot Priest hotter than he had any right to be.

Who could the Americans have possibly wanted to replace him with? (I shudder to think). This strange insistence that someone else needed to portray Scott’s character feels like a perfect example of the differences between American and British television, too. As Allen mentioned, when the BBC first commissioned Fleabag, it was funded in such a way that the show was given a lot of creative freedom. As soon as the Americans got involved financially, they tried to strip that creative freedom away and impose their frankly unwarranted opinions on a show that was fundamentally British in nature and execution. Different countries and cultures approach storytelling differently! And that’s okay!

With how in-demand Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been since Fleabag’s roaring success, it’s hard to imagine this ever happening to one of her projects again. Thankfully, she stood up for her story, and the TV landscape was all the better for it.


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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.