Emma Appleton and Bel Powley on Everything I Know About Love: 'We were standing in the street in pig costumes!'

A studio shot of Bel Powley in a white and blue Breton top as Birdy, and Emma Appleton in a black leather jacket as Maggie. Maggie has her arm around Birdy's waist
Bel Powley and Emma Appleton as Birdy and Maggie. (Image credit: BBC)

When best friends Maggie (Pistol's Emma Appleton), Birdy (Bel Powley), Nell (Marli Siu) and Amara (Aliyah Odoffin) move into a London houseshare together in new drama Everything I Know About Love, the foursome have a few shared hopes: brilliant careers, wild nights out, and maybe a few passionate love affairs as well. But childhood friends Maggie and Birdy find their relationship put to the test when Birdy gets her first steady boyfriend.

Adapted by Dolly Alderton from her best-selling memoir and set in 2012, the seven-part series follows the young women as they cope with the many challenges of millennial early adulthood, including dodgy landlords, toxic boyfriends, mental health issues, and the struggle to be taken seriously by... well, just about anyone.

Here Emma and Bel reveal why they think the show will resonate with viewers of all ages — and what it was like dressing up in inflatable pig costumes...

Emma Appleton and Bel Powley on Maggie and Birdy

Emma: "When we first meet Maggie, she's just finished her university gap year and she's moving to London, starting her adult life in a big city with her friends, and just figuring out what that looks like and what direction she wants to go in. She wants to dive in head-first and experience all of the things that she's going to experience in her twenties."

Bel: "Birdy is Maggie's childhood best friend, they've known each other since they were 11 years old. Birdy is quite an anxious and nervy person - she's the meekest of the group!"

Izabella Cresci as young Birdy and Daisy Jacob as young Maggie, in their school uniforms in a classroom, doodling in their schoolbooks and smiling at each other

Birdy and Maggie (played in flashbacks by Izabella Cresci and Daisy Jacob) have been best friends since they were at school. (Image credit: BBC)

Had you read Dolly's book before you got your roles?

Bel: "I read the book when it came out. My best friend — my Maggie! — gave me the book to read, which I thought was a nice and beautiful thing, and I was completely obsessed with it. I remember reading it and thinking 'if this gets turned into a TV show, I want to play Farly' — who then became Birdy!"

Emma: "I didn't read it until I got the job! I had heard of it, and I had lots of friends who said Dolly Alderton is amazing, then I auditioned and got the job and I was like, 'okay, I need to read it now!' And I loved it instantly."

What was it like working with Dolly?

Bel: "It was incredible, we were so lucky. She was with us every single day of filming, so she was there if we had any thoughts or queries or ever wanted to change a line or had any ideas about our character. She was really collaborative and gracious in handing over her story, which is based on her life and inspired by her book, so she couldn't have been more incredible with that."

Emma: "I second everything Bel just said — she was an absolute dream to work with!"

You filmed a lot of the series in Manchester, but you also got to film in London, didn't you?

Bel: "We built sets in Manchester, so we shot all of the interiors of the house there, and a lot of interiors of pubs and bars and stuff, but we did do a couple of weeks in Camden to make sure we were making it authentic. It was really hectic, shooting in Camden! We were like, 'oh, we wish we were shooting the whole thing in London', and then we went to shoot in Camden on a Saturday night and we were like, 'this would never have been able to happen!' But we were definitely really lucky, and really glad we did those two weeks there. We shot on Primrose Hill at dawn, that was really magical."

Nell (Marli Siu), Maggie (Emma Appleton), Birdy (Bel Powley) and Amara (Aliyah Odoffin) walking down the street at night, a bright streetlight illuminates the road behind them. They are all dressed for a night out in colourful dresses, with jackets over the top of them

Girls' night out: Nell, Maggie, Birdy and Amara explore London's nightlife. (Image credit: BBC)

Your characters get leafleting jobs where they have to dress in ridiculous outfits. What were they like to film?

Emma: "So much fun! When they brought the oufits out, China [Moo-Young] the director was like, 'obviously I'm going to go for the most ridiculous one, we're not going to play it safe'. So yeah, we were standing on the street in an inflatable pig outfit, or a massive pancake costume. I think people did genuinely think we were leafleting!"

Bel: "It was so ridiculous, and so much fun. The pig outfit, especially, I found so funny because it came deflated, and you had to put it on and one of the costume people had to go inside and inflate it with a sort of backwards vacuum cleaner! We were shooting in a normal street in Manchester that they hadn't locked off, on a Monday morning — people were going to work and we were just there in these pig costumes, it was ridiculous!"

The series shows the fun side of being in London in your twenties, but also addresses subjects like body dysmorphia — do you think it's important to show that?

Emma: "It's so important, because it's only been the past few years that we've had programmes showing that on screen, and it is relatable for all of us, it makes us go 'oh my God, I'm not the only one thinking that'. If it's shown on screen, maybe that opens up a discussion about those things with your friends."

Bel: "I hope we've made a show that's really true to the general female experience. Hopefully women of all ages — even my mum, she was in her twenties once! Those themes of love, heartbreak, friendship, sex and dancing I think are universal for women, so hopefully everyone relates to it."

  • Everything I Know About Love launches on BBC One on Tuesday, June 7 at 10.40pm and as a box set on BBC iPlayer
Steven Perkins
Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com

Steven Perkins is a Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com, who has been writing about TV professionally since 2008. He was previously the TV Editor for Inside Soap before taking up his current role in 2020. He loves everything from gritty dramas to docusoaps about airports and thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest all year round.