Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge appointed official global champion for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has agreed to become a global champion for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – to help it fight back from its cancellation last year.

Phoebe Waller Bridge won a Scotsman Fringe First Award for the stage version of Fleabag in 2013.

The multi-award winning actor, writer and producer, who launched her character in a one-woman show at the festival in 2013, has become the Fringe’s first ever honorary president.

Vowing to leading a fightback for “its much-needed survival and glorious return”, Waller-Bridge described the Fringe as “the beating heart of an industry that has been crushed by the pandemic.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Waller-Bridge, who went on to win BAFTA, Golden Globes and Emmy awards with the TV adaption of her Fringe show, is expected to appear at special events and speak on behalf of the Fringe, which she described as “an annual cultural revolution” and “a global symbol of artistic freedom and experimentation.”

Her ambassadorial role is expected to see her become a worldwide representative of, and advocate for, the Fringe.

London-born Waller-Bridge is one of the most successful performers to emerge from the Fringe over the last decade.

Her show at a 60-capacity Underbelly venue in the Cowgate was turned into a comedy-drama for BBC 3 in 2016. Waller-Bridge went on to write Killing Eve and also work on the long-awaited new James Bond film No Time To Die.

She joined forces with Olivia Colman last year to create a fund which raised more than £1 million for theatre workers affected by the pandemic.

Waller-Bridge has been unveiled as Fringe Society president amid ongoing uncertainty about what form the event will take this year.

The plug was pulled on the 2020 Fringe last April although performers and venues did go ahead with online shows and initiatives.

Waller-Bridge said: “The Fringe has staged an annual cultural revolution for decades. It’s where thousands of writers, comedians, performers and artists cut their teeth and put their most raw work out into the world.

"Whether it’s a two-hander in a shoebox, a gig in a van, a promenade through the streets or a mammoth musical epic, this festival is a global symbol of artistic freedom and experimentation.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the first ever president of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society.

“It relies on its audiences and it relies on its artists. It’s where the relationship between the two is consummated, passionately, sometimes with great success, sometimes with awkward fumbles behind an inflatable cow, but always with unbridled passion and creativity.

"From leaking caves to cobbled streets, to the glamour of the Traverse Theatre up to Arthur’s Seat, this festival is a beating heart of an industry that has been crushed by the pandemic.

“I’m proud to be a part of the fight for its much-needed survival and glorious return.”

Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy said: “We’re so delighted to have Phoebe come on board as our first ever president.

"Her work, her legacy and her passion for the Fringe is truly inspiring, and her journey since bringing Fleabag to the Fringe in 2013 has been nothing short of remarkable.

“We know we’ve got serious work to do to overcome the challenges that Covid has brought to our


"The Fringe Society is here to keep advocating for the Fringe and the thousands of amazing

creatives who make it happen every year.

"I am absolutely thrilled to have the fantastic Phoebe in our corner, championing those calls.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.