VIDEO: Effy And Rose Fall In Love In The BBC’s “True Love”

The BBC’s “True Love” is an improvised drama series featuring five overlapping love stories set in the same town.

Monday’s episode starred Billie Piper (Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Doctor Who) as a teacher going through a rough time emotionally and Kaya Scodelario (Effy from Skins) as her admiring student. If you live in the UK, I imagine you’ve already seen this or could’ve watched it on the BBC website.

If you live in the US, like me, then you’ll be overjoyed to know that my 48 hours of compulsive youtube searching has finally paid off. I have found the program for us all to watch together as a family. Ta-da!

Part One:


Part Two:

What do you think?

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3177 articles for us.


  1. I didn’t know it was improvised, that makes it more impressive. I thought that both actresses said so much through their eyes alone. The attention to detail and specially the shots of their hands together were beautiful. Plotwise it was a bit unsatisfactory but at least it had a happy-ish ending, sort of?

    They’re both great actresses and now I’m super attracted to Billie Piper.

  2. Great! but i think it lacked a bit of improvisation between the sheets :p

    Or maybe thats just me, coping with exams and single life.

  3. I’m hoping this starts a trend for former Doctor Who companions to go gay. Because, srsly, you don’t understand what I would do to see Karen Gillan get down to some lady-loving action. Preferably with me. And preferably in the pirate outfit from Curse of the Black Spot. Phwoar etc.

    • Well, it’s not much, but she did do that little sketch thingy a few years ago where she married another woman. There was brief snogging. But you may already know about this ^^

      Also, yes, seconding so much – Karen needs to go play a gay character, and something long term not like that sketch thingy :) I’m sure she will though, some day ^^

    • your comment literally made my day. AND ALEX KINGSTON. that would be so awesome i would die. doctor who foreverrrrr <3

      • Miss Kingston played a bit of a lady lover in one of the episodes of “Moll Flanders” on UK tv many a ear ago….

  4. It was good, however I think it was a shame that the idea couldn’t have been fully developed into something with a longer time frame.The storyline would have suited a television series or film rather than a short tv episode, as I felt much of the action seemed to be squashed into half an hour. They did well to make it brief enough for one story of the series, but it made the lack of development into the characters’ relationships, backgrounds etc a disappointment.

    Another problem I had with the episode was now I have to deal with a great let down…that Billie Piper isn’t really gay. Not that I would have ever had a chance anyway, but one can dream dammit!

  5. Not sure how I feel about the series, as a uk-ite I’ve seen the entire aired series so far. It seems to be mainly centred on straight men cheating on their wives with BBC style “graphic” sex scenes, that is until the “lesbian episode” where it was a cut to semi naked women in sheets to imply they had sex… total wimp out, so even at 10.30pm it’s not appropriate on the main BBC channel!?… I had high hopes after BBC3’s Lip service. Also not sure how I feel about their decision to centre it on a teacher pupil relationship… “those gay’s are all about sex and scandal they can’t even control themselves around minors” hhhhmmmm

    • haha reading my comment back, I’ve realised how terribly British it is “not sure how I feel” polite code for “are you kidding me?! This is as painful as scooping my scandalous lesbian eyes out with a rusty teaspoon”

  6. !NOOOO!
    Kaya’s playing a character who’s taking mock GCSE’s, and is wearing a school uniform, so she’s got to be under 16. If this was a series about a depressed bloke who started screwing a 15 year old student it’d neeeever make it on air.
    I mean, I liked the storyline and the acting was amazing…I just wish they could have made her a 6th former…I dunno…it was just a bit creepers for me to watch. A bit ‘Mr Peterson’ like.

    • Ohhh wait, never mind just finished watching it properly. She’s 16. Legal. Not as awful. Fine. :D

      • Actually its still very very illegal as its a teacher and pupil who is under 18 – there’s been quite a few cases in trials recently and even if the pupil is over 18 the teacher will probably get struck off and never allowed to teach again. Breach of trust/abuse of authority, etc. V creepy. I’m sad that this was the story, because Billie and Kaya playing gay is like a dream come true but not in such a dodgy storyline. I thought they did well though, they’re both great actors.

        • I kind of agree with you, but when I watched this as it aired me and my sister were talking it out and we sort of came to the conclusion that it’s the balance of power and stuff that makes things so creepy and wrong in a student teacher relationship, and Billie’s character is such a vulnerable little wreck, without any power over the Kaya’s character. We ended up coming to the conclusion that that was why the storyline didn’t bother us as much, or feel as wrong as it usually would.

          • yeah, i had the same train of thought about the power imbalance between the student and the teacher. But then i realised that i was equally creeped out by the idea that a teacher (and grown adult) was so easily drawn in by a student, because her self esteem was so low.

            i also think that (despite what stage of their lives the law regards them as) a 16 year old is still a child, and that’s enough to give me some serious creeped out feelings.

          • I totally agree. The teacher/student relationship should have been more like the that in Loving Annabelle: student-falling-in-love-with-teacher-teacher-knows-her-boundaries-student-is-very-persistent-teacher-tries-to-hold-back-teacher-falls-in-love-teacher-give-in.

        • I’m with Sophia – I don’t understand why this is acceptable. A teen having sex with an adult – man/boy, girl/woman, boy/woman, etc. – is not okay.

  7. I loved it. I thought it was really sweet. Their chemistry was really great and the crying scenes just felt so real and raw that they actually made me cry. Kaya & Billie did great, especially since it was improvised. That takes skill.

    The story line itself though was a bit.. weird. Well not weird, just not my taste lol. I know the age of consent here in the UK is 16, but it still doesn’t make it less weird.

    But Kaya playing gay was something I’ve wanted for a long time and it came true! And did she say during her Skins days that she was to “kiss a girl… for a job.” so her wish came true too.

  8. I scoured the internet for literally an hour trying to find this last night, and here it is all nicely placed in front of me. Autowin.

  9. I really initially only watched and was interested in it for Kaya and Billie playing gay, like hello, yes please! But it was actually really good and I was surprised. Kaya’s definitely grown as an actress since Skins and she’s still as strikingly beautiful as she’s always been.

    The parts in the school class room annoyed me though because that is exactly what most British schools and pupils are like, and it takes me back to my school days of being bullied *shudder*

    But Kaya’s tweet after the episode about her turkey run cheered me up. Hilarious!

    • Yeah the schoolroom scenes were so awful/well done/traumatising. I ended up putting my fingers in my ears while they chanted, ‘lesbian’

  10. Fitting improvised sequences with a plotted structure is a gamble. Television comedies such as “Curb Your Enthusiasm” may be the best known of contemporary examples but drama occasionally gives it a shot. The legendary Robert Altman was known for starting with detailed screenplays which soon metamorphized into improvisational master classes. More recently, “Like Crazy” both succeeded and failed employing such a style. The lasting impression was inconsistency that kept the film from reaching it’s full potential.

    What makes “Holly’s Class” even more susceptible to failure than it’s improvisational style is it’s storyline of a teacher and a student falling in love. The hit show “Pretty Little Liars” has tended toward a glamorization of such subject matter without either dealing well with the fallout among everyone or, for that matter, depicting a relationship that seems more than a contrivance. Reactions can often come down to a mix of heightened fan love or intense moralizing that overlooks that most important element – is it good.

    With the first two episodes of “True Love” not being entirely successful, the surprise is not only that “Holly’s Story” is the best episode so far but that it is both a sublime example of both style and genre.

    At one point, Karen and Holly lie in bed. Karen is holding Holly’s hand but then begins caressing the shoulder of the worried Holly. Holly asks Karen to keep holding her hand which an attentive Karen immediately does It is an authentic moment that is rare in any format. The physical language throughout extremely strong. Holly’s hands fiddle with pencils as she looks at Karen, Karen’s trembling anxiety is apparent as she waits for Holly so she can ask her to an exhibition, Karen consoles Holly as she cries and then moves to the floor so she can look up to Holly, the kisses are not pecks or tonguing but laced with intimacy and desire.

    The concern here is not whether Holly and Karen are right or wrong to enter a romance. It is neither a condemnation of or a tribute to such romances. It neither glamorizes the romance nor does it present it as monstrous. If the students are filled with anger and hostility, motivated by their own jealousy, Holly’s Mom is fearful and worried, motivated by concern for her daughter.

    In other words, this is neither Afterschool Special or ABC Family. It is not a grand melodramatic tragedy. It is about two people that feel disconnected from everyone. Scodelario captures Karen’s innocence and empathy. Piper captures the depressed state Holly is in and the joy and fulfillment that Karen brings into her life. Ultimately the concern is the act of finding true love. The show is the perfect length for it is about specific moments. When Karen confesses she has never felt attraction to boys it sets up a more impactful moment when she tells Holly the depth of feelings Holly brings out of her. The scene is ripe with a want for emotional connection as well as sexual desire. However it is details another important facet of love – the devastation of seeing the person we love in pain. This emotion comes up later when Holly is taunted later by her students. We see Karen crying and we know it is not because Karen fears being outed. It is instead solely about Karen being devastated by Holly being hurt.

    Ultimately the episode lives up to the program’s name. In less than 30 minutes, “Holly’s Story” conveys something rarely presented with such touch and dexterity. It conveys the sense of true love blooming between two people. If plenty of movies and tv tell the audience characters are deeply in love, “Holly’s Class” does something much better. It shows two characters deeply in love.

  11. Thank you! What a great find! Sitting here wanting more and thinking of my first true love…I should call her. Intense, sweet, passionate without having to do much at all. I love that it was improv too. I felt a little void after Lip Service ended and needed a little something to tide me over. This was perfect.

  12. I am stuck in bed with an unknown but brutal virus and going crazy.

    Thank you Riese, thank you. YOU ARE A GOD.

  13. can you please keep us updated on this story line!!?? that would be amazing!!!!! uwehwrcefdsxej they are so cute!

  14. I agree with the others who find it inappropriate and creepy. Perhaps my age is showing, but I’m always amazed that more of us aren’t upset by this sort of thing. We should expect better IMHO.

    • Isn’t that a bit condescending? You imply that something is wrong with those viewers that do not share the same moral absolutism you do. This is especially confounding when one considers this is work of fictional media and not a documentary. It is one thing to debate it even if such a debate seems to be of more interest in terms of discussing social mores than discussing the quality of the episode on a aesthetic level. It is another to take not only a dismissive attitude but a condemnatory attitude to viewers that liked the work.

      It is not my responsibility to keep you from being amazed that I enjoyed an episode of television or that I found it to be filled with an emotional honesty. That does not mean I condone teacher/student romances no more than it means that by enjoying The Deep Blue Sea I condone adultery.

      The episode touched me because it captures vulnerability, desire and the want to protect the person one loves in a manner that was authentic and truthful. Sorry that I am a heathen though I would far prefer to be one instead of someone who is such an absolutist they reject any filmed fictional scenario that does not fall within the parameters of accepted social mores.

  15. Holy eyebrow porn. Thanks for finding this, Riese. Better than ‘Loving Annabelle’ for sure.

  16. The acting was truly fantastic. I’m amazed it was improvised but really… the teacher-pupil storyline. Gross. There’s nothing romantic about an adult having a sexual relationship with someone who is not an adult. It’s exploitation. You can play “True Colors” over and over in the background all you want – that ain’t love.

  17. so adorable! two great actresses who improvised very natural, intimate interactions between a couple (loved the element of the hands too!)

    • oh god, the video!! totally made me think of TLCs waterfalls somehow and now it’s stuck in my head.again.

    • Upon a second viewing I realized that they both had short nails. For some reason that made me ridiculously happy :) Maybe because half of the lesbians in TV/Movies have long nails that aways remind me of that one Autostraddle article that gives everyone nightmares…dun dun dunnn. You know which one I’m talking about.

  18. It’s a shame that these videos cut out the scenes with her male lover. I think it adds a bit more to the story.

  19. Great find. Loving the storyline and Kaya. Not really loving the “Time After Time” cover song that kept creeping in. Sorta threw me out of the moment Bah

  20. this looks cute but teacher/student relationships make me so uncomfortable. i spent the whole time going “how old are they this is so unprofessional at least wait until she’s not your student doesn’t anybody read the RULES?”

    on the other hand, I love this hair color on billie piper.

  21. Time to break out the tinfoil hats because apparently the BBC employs mind readers! But seriously I would cut off my left tit for a chance to do some missionary work with either of these two smoking hot ladies.

  22. I don’t get why the one non-heterosexual storyline, in a series with 5 episodes, had to be about a teacher/student romance. I don’t think it does us any favours, y’know?

    • There was a certain amount of moral ambiguity to all of the stories though, lots of adultery, lots of lies. I’ve really enjoyed this series, aside from the occasionally weird music choices, and I think it’s because they’re improvised and told in a way that tries to completely immerse you in this feeling of falling in love. When I was watching it it wasn’t like passing judgement or moral standards went out the window or whatever, because objectively I still feel like that was a bad thing to be involved in, but what the character’s were feeling sort of took priority, which felt really true, sometimes thinking things through and being sensible goes out the window.

        • UGH the last episode was the worst, they used the most inappropriate, cheesiest george michael tracks ever and it wasn’t a cheesy story you know? I think the weirdest thing has been how they’ve repeated the same song over and over within the course of an episode, and how the lyrics seem to be smashing you over the head with what the characters are thinking. “I’m a fool to want you” while David Tennant contemplates having an affair with Lol from This is England for example. Or Mumford and Sons “Awake My Soul” while Jane Horrocks gets out of a stifling marriage. I actually think Billie and Kaya got the best of a bad deal.

  23. perhaps the storyline was a bit squished, and i mean, really? i HAD to be a teacher and a student? but i think that i indeed like it in the end because the emotions that were portrayed were so real and almost tangible. billie and kaya did an absolutely wonderful job!

  24. I really liked the improvised dialouge. Especially when Karen said she wanted somebody to love her despite/because of her “nerdy little things”. That’s something a real person would say, you know. Still, am I the only one getting tired of lesbians falling in love over a mutual interest in art? Oh, and I looooved the awkward hugs between Holly and her guy.

  25. I LOVE teacher/student relationships and this was okay but it could have done with a bit more… sexual tension. Too much “sweet little kiss then hug” for me. It’s a fucked up scenario and that’s what could have made it brilliant television but they didn’t really go for it.

  26. Yes yes, but can Effy sleep with Belle de Jour? Because that is something I’d REALLY like to see.

  27. did somebody point out yet that this isn’t actually the whole episode? there are like five minutes missing between holly and her married beau

  28. Really though, will these two still be together in a year after Holly can’t get another position due to the whole sleeping with a student thing and Karen can’t get a decent job or go to university because she left school without any GCSE’s or A-levels? I was left thinking, stay in school girl!

    Also I agree with everyone who thinks that student/teacher relationships are morally grey. What if it was a male teacher/female student?

  29. Not sure who I’m more jealous of here. Nggh.

    I liked that it was a bit morally questionable. It makes it interesting. It makes you think.

  30. I really needed more from the sex scenes because I couldn’t quite figure out… I dunno. I get the impression they’re both bambi-sexuals. They were both so passive. I dunno.

  31. I can’t. I cannot. I am incapable of canning.

    I don’t care how attractive they are, the fact that they are “lesbians”, or that they are great actresses – this is so ethically wrong that I could not support or enjoy this at all. It’s nauseating every time I watch PLL to have to suffer through the romanticized crime of Ezra and Aria, so nope, pretty women can’t paint a pretty picture over the fact that this is not an affair to be glorified.

  32. God they are both so gorgeous. Hope this isn’t Kaya’s only foray into the whole gay-for-pay television thing, b/c it doesn’t quite count for me, given the whole ick-factor. I found it truly tragic/nauseating when her character said “No, no, not at all, it’d be weird, she’s my teacher, that’s it.” So messed up. I don’t think, as opposed to some other commentors, that the show is 100% glorifying their relationship (as opposed to on PLL, for example, when Aria and Ezra act shocked and outraged that her parents would be against their relationship, my god), because the episode in general has a sort of sad, fucked up tone to it and…idk, I think we were supposed to feel sorry for the teacher b/c she’s so miserable, but not think her choices were right at all (and maybe feel more sorry for her b/c she couldn’t seem to see that and be the adult she really needed to be?).

  33. so it was kinda cheesy and terrible but still adorable and cute?

    wow i think i just described every lesbian movie ever

  34. I am in total agreement with @Paper0Flowers. I wish I could watch this because the actresses are gorgeous and the music is beautiful and the filming is lovely but just, NO. No no no. The concept of a teacher/student romance being anything other than completely reprehensible (and illegal) is so, so gross. Just like Aria and Ezra are gross. (Even though he gives her absolute autonomy and treats her as an equal and a peer I don’t care, it is just terrible).

  35. “If you have not lived my life, suffered my pain, enjoyed my happiness, walked my path, seen what I have seen, then you can’t judge me.” This is for ones who think a student/teacher relationship is not ok. I mean yes, it;s ilegal, but trust me, I’ve been’s amazing! And it’s also as normal as it could be. When you love, you simply love. Especially a teacher/student always being build on something special..with incredible chemistry. It’s unexplicable. Unless you’ve been there, you can’t imagine it.

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