The Sexy Unbelievable True Story With Doctor Who Star You Can Watch Without Netflix

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

Back in the early aughts, an anonymous blogger became popular in England, writing as “Belle de Jour.” She chronicled her life as a high-end London call girl. The blog led to book deals, and the book deals led to a series, Secret Diary of a Call Girl, from ITV that, in a major deal at the time, landed Doctor Who’s Billie Piper as Belle.

Billie Piper Stars In Her Own Series

Billie Piper had just wrapped up her stint as Rose, the first companion of the new Doctor Who revival, and as you can tell from the subject matter and the title, Secret Diary of a Call Girl is not as family-friendly as Doctor Who. While promoting the first season, Piper made certain, in every single interview, that it was not a series for fans of Rose.

Instead, the series is a surprisingly comedic take on the world’s oldest profession that critics compared to a British Sex and the City. Billie Piper manages to walk the line between being sexy, awkward, confident, and wracked by anxiety, so if you’re coming to the series expecting a Cinemax throwback, look elsewhere, as Freud would be proud of this series in which sex is never about sex.

Breaks The Fourth Wall On A Regular Basis

Secret Diary of a Call Girl is similar to Sex and the City, but I kept comparing it to Burn Notice because I’m damaged from watching so many mid-tier procedurals. Just as Jeffrey Donovan’s Michael Weston would do the same about tricks of the spy trade, Billie Piper’s Belle, or her real name, Hannah, will often turn to the camera, shatter the fourth wall, and explain some aspect of her job, living in London, or her personal life.

Complicated Characters

Season 1 follows a basic format as any procedural does: there’s a new client or two, a loose, over-connecting story of Hannah juggling her personal and secret work life, and the star of a romance with her best friend, Ben (Snowpiercer’s Iddo Goldberg). It’s fun, but it’s such a breezy watch that it’s easy to remain disconnected from Billie Piper’s performance, which has to be by design. After all, Hannah states early on that her idea of the perfect relationship is one in which she never has to be herself.

Recognizable Stars

As Secret Diary of a Call Girl moves into its later seasons, the story shifts from client encounters to being more focused on the life of Hannah and the love triangle she finds herself in with Ben and Alex (Callum Blue, who will forever remind me of Dead Like Me). Hannah also becomes a best-selling author, but even Billie Piper admits it’s okay to bail after Season 3, as the fourth and final season goes right off the rails.

While Season 4 brings in Lily James (Pam and Tommy) and Gemma Chan (The Eternals), it also lacks the charm of the earlier seasons.

Based On A Real Person

While Secret Diary of a Call Girl was airing, the author of the original blog came forward and revealed herself as Dr. Brooke Magnati, a forensic scientist originally from Florida who worked as a London call girl to pay for her schooling. Magnati and Billie Piper appeared in a broadcast special and have worked together for various charities and social causes.

Streaming For Free


If you enjoyed Sex and the City, but the glorification of designer brands got to be a little too much, then Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which starts with Billie Piper calling herself “high class” while sitting on the toilet, might be your new favorite series.

Secret Dairy of a Call Girl is surprisingly unsexy in its frank portrayal of sex. While the titillating hook draws people in, Billie Piper’s standout performance as Belle/Hannah keeps the show interesting (and is wildly different from her time on Doctor Who). You can judge the show for yourself; every episode is free through Tubi.