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TV Preview: Secret Diary of a Call Girl

Watching Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which starts tonight on Showtime, is like getting let in on the juiciest piece of gossip ever. The show is sly and slick, pulling back the curtain on the world of sex-for-money in London and leaving you feeling like the ultimate insider.

The show stars Billie Piper as Belle, a high-class hooker — and the alter ego of Hannah, an everyday gal who prefers jeans and books to corsets and stilettos. In the first couple of episodes, Belle explains, in blunt and clever language, the mechanics of her job: Keep two closets and two cell phones, take the money first, give the client what he wants — and don't be afraid to enjoy it.

There's surprisingly little sex in Call Girl (and some of it is more funny than salacious, like when Belle puts a saddle on a particularly dorky, heavily sideburned client who has a thing for horses). The real seduction comes from Piper, who's eminently watchable as the confident, sassy Belle. Belle often speaks directly to the camera, not unlike Carrie in the early episodes of Sex and the City, but the narration doesn't seem forced or awkward. Indeed, it's all part of the fun, with Piper tossing her hair, cocking an eyebrow, and looking — it seems — right at you as she reveals another trick of her trade. It's clear, from the first few episodes, why people seem to fall in love with Belle left and right. I know I did.

The series premieres tonight at at 10:30 p.m. EDT and PDT. No Showtime (or can't wait)? You can check out the first two episodes online right now. To watch a preview with Belle talking about her life as a call girl, just read more.

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