LONDON — Dolly Alderton peered through the window of her old house in Camden Town, squinting to see contained in the kitchen. She had last visited the tree-lined street in London the yr before, “with my mates after we were drunk,” she said. When she asked the present tenants if she could look inside, “they said, ‘Did you write a book about living here?’” she recalled. It was, apparently, the very first thing the owner mentioned when promoting the property.
On that visit, the 33-year-old author had been within the midst of turning that memoir, “The whole lot I Know About Love,” right into a TV show, which premieres in the USA on Peacock on Aug. 25. Each iterations are set on this area of North London — known for its wealthy rock ’n’ roll history and graffitied canal — where Alderton lived for nearly 10 years, and which she jokingly described as “the second-most visited tourist destination in London after Buckingham Palace.”
During that decade, Alderton worked as a story producer on the British reality TV show “Made in Chelsea,” wrote a dating column and created a success podcast, “The High Low,” with the journalist Pandora Sykes. But what defined the period for Alderton was being single, in her 20s and living with friends.
When it got here to adapting her memoir for the screen, Alderton realized that readers connected with how she had framed her relationship with Farly Kleiner, her childhood best friend, as “epic and grand and romantic” — a love story. Within the series, the 2 are fictionalized as Maggie (Emma Appleton) and Birdy (Bel Powley). With the show’s “ups and downs, tensions and silliness, surprise and excitement,” Alderton said, the seven episodes plot the narrative arc of their relationship like a romantic comedy.
Working Title Movies, which made rom-coms like “Notting Hill,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Love Actually” — acquired the film and TV rights for the memoir in 2017, when the book was still on the proposal stage.
Eric Fellner, the production company’s co-chairman, also optioned “Bridget Jones” from Helen Fielding’s book. When he read “The whole lot I Know About Love,” he “thought, this author has got an analogous connection to an audience that Helen Fielding had all those years ago,” he said in a recent phone interview, “and perhaps that is the millennial version.” Each writers, he added, “can take a look at their generation in a brilliantly humorous way.”
At a restaurant in Primrose Hill, Alderton said that for her generation, “sincerity has grow to be retro” and that coming of age within the 2010s meant growing up in “a really cynical time.” It’s against this backdrop that “The whole lot I Know About Love” is about, in 2012 — “literally the yr Camden stopped being cool,” Alderton added.
Rebecca Lucy Taylor, higher often known as the pop star Self Esteem, was in an indie band at the moment. She contributed three songs to the show’s soundtrack, and said the episodes were “so evocative of the ever-competitive alt scene, where everyone seems to be attempting to appear to be they’re not trying.”
Birdy, Maggie and their two housemates, Amara (Aliyah Odoffin) and Nell (Marli Siu), are all “provincial or suburban” and “on the fringes of every little thing — in not way,” Alderton said. Once they arrive in Camden, all 4 are ravenous for some big city experience.
This lack of urban initiation is what distinguishes Alderton’s characters from their more aspirational forebears in shows like “Sex and the City” and even “Girls.” Alderton once pined for the glamour of the massive city, too, she said. She grew up in Stanmore, a “comfortable” and “beige-carpeted” suburb of North London, she said, where “the buses are slow and infrequent.” As children, she and Kleiner would circle a single cul-de-sac on their scooters, and wander across the shopping center without ever buying anything. “All we did was talk and dream,” Alderton said, adding that the shortage of stimuli gave her brain “an Olympic workout for imagination.”
Now, Alderton is one in every of Britain’s best-known millennial writers. Between her memoir, podcast, a recent novel and her gig as an agony aunt for a British newspaper, many young British women see her because the trusted voice of an in depth friend.
“There’s at all times women running as much as her wanting to confer with her,” said Cherish Shirley, a author and story consultant on “The whole lot I Know About Love.” Most days, Alderton said, she meets “amazing, generous, lovely girls” in bars, bookstores or bathrooms who need to talk. “Because I opened up a channel of communication,” she said, “they speak very intimately back to me.”
But after the paperback edition of “The whole lot I Know About Love” got here out in 2019, the quantity of attention began to feel “unmanageable,” she said. Alderton moved back to her parents’ house for six weeks to spend a while being “really small and really quiet and really hidden away,” she said.
For the primary time in her profession, she also began putting more distance between herself and her work. In adapting her memoir for television, she said she chiseled the show’s protagonist into a personality who was less self-aware, and fewer precocious, than herself.
“I see Maggie as someone who’s 10 tracing paper copies away from me,” Alderton said. One other divergence from the book is the addition of characters of color, including Amara, a Black British dancer. “Criticism of the book — that I fully accept — is that it was very white,” she said. This was another excuse she made the show “semi-fictional,” she said, and Shirley added that Alderton was intentional in bringing together “a mixed group of girls from all types of backgrounds” to form the show’s writers room, and fill out its world with authentic, diverse characters.
In March, three months before the show premiered on the BBC in Britain, Alderton had “a giant wobble” about being thrust into the highlight again, she said. Surian Fletcher-Jones, an executive producer on the show, instructed her to get “match fit.” Alderton said she stopped drinking for some time, and likewise began a course of cognitive behavioral therapy, billing the sessions to the production.
Simon Maloney, a producer who also worked on Michaela Coel’s “I May Destroy You,” emphasized the importance of providing support for female showrunners who draw heavily from their personal experiences, Alderton said. “You possibly can’t drag the story out of a lady like that, after which leave her alone,” she remembered him saying.
Alderton described herself as “an oversharer,” but today, she thinks rigorously about how that sharing should happen, and posts less on social media. “What I now realize,” she said, “is people don’t must go into forensic detail of their emotional lives to get people to love, after which relate, to them.”
Fellner revealed Alderton had a studio deal for a movie adaptation of her fiction debut, “Ghosts.” She can also be researching a novel about heartbreak and loss. “The work I do in fiction remains to be very exposing,” Alderton said, since it continues to reference her life, even when she isn’t any longer the principal character.
“That’s enough of my heart, and soul, and brain and life spilled out in every single place,” she said.