How I Met Your Mother co-creator Carter Bays has praised Britney Spears for her ‘delightful’ cameo in a classic episode of the show.
The writer, who brought the iconic sitcom to our screens in 2005 alongside co-creator Craig Thomas, has been reflecting on his time on the show as he releases his debut novel, Mutual Friend.
While it’s been close to 10 years since the time-hopping series came to an end, it remains hugely popular amongst fans, and the so-called ‘Britney Spears Episodes’ remaining firm fan-favourites.
The third season saw Gimme More singer Britney, who recently married long-term boyfriend Sam Asghari, play the role of dental receptionist Abby, a sweet, naive woman who falls head-over-heels for Ted (and gets caught up in Barney’s ruse in the process.)
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Carter recalled the ‘circus’ around her cameo and praised her for bringing ‘a ton of eyes’ to the relatively new show.
‘Having Britney was delightful,’ he said. ‘It was really cool.’
‘There was such a circus around that when it happened, it was such a surprise and out of the blue!’
He explained how they had written the episode that introduced major new character Stella, played by Scrubs star Sarah Chawke, who would go on to become engaged to Ted.
‘Then we heard Britney Spears wants to be in this episode. And we thought “Britney Spears wants to play Stella? We’ve never seen her act before, this is a huge part, is she up to this?”‘
They then learned that Crossroads star Britney instead ‘wanted to play the smaller role, this character Abby who had maybe two scenes.’
‘We were kind of surprised by this choice,’ he admitted, adding that he believes she ‘wanted to start small and dip her toes in the water.’
‘But she came in and she really shone in those scenes and we brought her back for another episode.
‘It was wonderful,’ Carter said. ‘It brought a lot of eyes to the show.’
‘We were doing okay in the ratings but we weren’t really exploding, and [Britney] brought a ton of new eyes to it.
‘I’m very thankful that happened to be an episode I was really proud of and that had a lot of funny stuff in it It – was a big turning point in the show, our audience grew sizeably that day.’
Asked if Britney was a fan of the series and had requested the part personally, Carter admitted he had ‘no idea,’ but ‘sometimes the phone rings and you take it and its like “Okay, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth!
“The most famous person in the world wants to be in our show, let’s do it.”‘
Britney’s episodes even included the scene Carter is most proud of out of the entire series: the two-minute date Ted uses to convince busy mum-of-one Stella to go out with him.
‘It’s such a great… showcase of how well everyone on the show did ther jobs, I was so proud of everyone,’ he told Metro.co.uk
‘It was very challenging, it was all in one shot… it required such coordination between the crew and different departments, props, set dressing, everything.
‘Josh [Radnor] and Sarah did such an amazing job playing the whole scene. I remember a feeling of such joy when we finally got the shot and it all came together.’
In June, Carter released his first novel, Mutual Friend, which he dove into after the acclaimed sitcom came to an end.
Like How I Met Your Mother, the novel is set in New York City and revolves around a vast ensemble of unique characters trying to find their way in the world, navigating the dating scene along the way.
‘When it came to the end of How I Met Your Mother there was this overwhelming feeling that I wouldn’t be able to top this or match this experience again,’ Carter admitted, revealing he had initially tried to make Mutual Friend into a TV series but it didn’t work out.
‘I thought, “Maybe I’m chasing something I shouldn’t be chasing.” But I had this story I wanted to tell about Alice, her brother, all these other characters.
‘I found myself wanting to tell the story without having to ask anyone’s permission to do it. And as much as I love makng TV, you have to convince a studio to give you millions of dollars. With a book you sit down, open Word, and write it.’
‘Fiction is something I always loved,’ he said, admitting that writing a novel has ‘always been on my bucket list.’
In writing Mutual Friend, Carter says he ‘really discovered how much I love writing fiction, almost to the point where it’s like this is what I should be doing – or should have been doing all along.
‘I’ve enjoyed the process so immensely. I certainly hope there’ll be more books – all I need is an idea.’
Mutual Friend is out now.