Is Netflix’s One Day The Same As The Book? Every Difference Explained

19 February 2024, 13:50 | Updated: 19 February 2024, 15:33

Netflix's One Day is based on David Nicholls' novel how does it compare?
Netflix's One Day is based on David Nicholls' novel how does it compare? Picture: Netflix

By Abbie Reynolds

Netflix's One Day is based on David Nicholls' novel but how does it compare? Here's everything that's the same and what's different between the book and the TV series. Be warned, some of the changes might shock you!

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If, like us, you've fallen in love with Dex and Em in Netflix's brilliant adaptation of One Day you probably want to know as much as possible about their tragic love story.

Well, if you're yet to have reached the final episode of the show be cautious because there will be *spoilers ahead*.

Nicole Taylor created One Day, starring Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod, for Netflix based off of David Nicholls' 2009 novel of the same name. For those super fans you'll know that the book was already adapted into a film back in 2011.

The film starred Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess but because of the nature of Dex and Em's story, the movie - which had a runtime of less than two hours - was critiqued for not being able to capture all of the charm of the book.

Fast forward to 2024 and it seems the charm of the book has been perfectly encapsulated in Taylor's adaptation. But for those who haven't read the novel I bet you want to know how similar the TV series is to the book.

There are a few key changes made in TV series, especially when it comes to last few episodes. So, here are your answers.

Even Emma's friendships are different in the book
Even Emma's friendships are different in the book. Picture: Alamy

What is different about Netflix's One Day and the book it's based on?

Netflix's 14-part miniseries One Day is a pretty accurate adaptation of the 2009 novel it is based on and with the incredible performances from Leo Woodall and Ambika Mod it's easy to see why many have wondered if it is based on a true story.

Both the TV series and the book focus on the same day, July 15th, over the course of 20 years, but including the heartbreaking ending, there are ten main differences between the two. Here they are:

1. The timeline is slightly different

Although both the show and the book begin in 1988 the timeline changes a little in the series. In the novel Dexter's rise to TV stardom happens in the year 1991 whereas in the show it happens a year earlier in 1990. This was likely done to skip out some unnecessary scenes in the book to fit the TV format.

Netflix's One Day is slightly different to the book it's based on
Netflix's One Day is slightly different to the book it's based on. Picture: Netflix

2. The 'one night stand'

The TV series opens with Emma and Dexter meeting at their grad ball before going back to Emma's flat where they end up discussing their futures. However, the book begins with the pair already in bed chatting and it's made clear they already have some form of history. Both the book and the TV series give the couple the same first date though as they venture to Arthur's seat.

3. Emma and Dexter's holiday in Greece

In One Day Em and Dex go on a spontaneous trip to Greece where they spend a lot of time fighting through sexual tension. But the all important 'skinny dipping' scene ends differently in the book compared to Netflix's series.

In the book some pranksters steal Dex's clothes leaving him to have to run back to their apartment nude. This isn't included in the TV show, instead the series focuses on Emma's reflections and how she does not want to fall into Dexter's idea of 'a bit of fun' since he has picked up a party boy rep while gaining TV fame.

In the book Dexter has to run back to their Greek apartment in the nude
In the book Dexter has to run back to their Greek apartment in the nude. Picture: Netflix

4. Emma's career is adapted for the series

In the TV show Emma writes her books about a character called Nisha Halliday who is a clear stand-in for herself. Nisha reflects the South Asian heritage of Ambika Mod who stars in the show but in the book Emma isn't bi-racial and instead the character she writes is called Julie Criscoll.

5. They cut a scene with Emma's publisher

Netflix's One Day also doesn't show Emma meeting her publisher which is a pretty key scene in the book. In 1977 Emma meets with a publisher who mistakenly believed she was applying for the job of the nanny. While an embarrassing and reflective part of the book it's skipped over in the TV series and instead Emma's success as a writer is much more streamline.

The same can be said for Dexter's career timeline as when he is axed from his TV job in the book it's a much bigger ordeal whereas the TV series cuts it down to one phone call from his agent.

One Day's Leo Woodall Was Using His Mum's Netflix!

6. Tilly sleeps with Dexter in the book

In the book Tilly and Emma aren't nearly as close as they are in Netflix's adaptation of One Day. Tilly is Emma's friend who she lived with while studying at Edinburgh University. But in the book the pair don't end up so close.

For instance, Emma doesn't give a speech at Tilly's wedding and even more importantly at one point in the book Tilly sleeps with Dexter despite knowing the history Emma has with him. This traitorous behaviour isn't mulled over much in the book but by missing it out of the show Tilly is a better supporting character for Emma to go to as she navigates her ever-complicated relationship with Dex.

7. Tilly's husband get's an on-screen upgrade

Emma's bestie Tilly ends up married in the show and the book but in the original novel of One Day her husband is pretty irrelevant. Tilly marries a man called Malcolm in the book who is rarely mentioned and blends into the background. However in the show their is more of a focus on Tilly's husband who's called Graham and he even gets a few funny scenes.

Tilly isn't a 'girls girls' in the book
Tilly isn't a 'girls girls' in the book. Picture: Netflix

8. Ian and Dexter's heart-to-heart

When it comes to Emma's tragic death her ex-boyfriend Ian reaches out to Dexter on the one year anniversary of her passing. This is the same in the book and the TV show however, in the book Ian sends a heartfelt letter to Dex but in the show he speaks to him face-to-face, which obviously works a lot nicer for television.

9. Emma lives longer in the book

The novel has Emma's death happen in 2004 rather than 2002 like the TV series. The show could have given us a bit more time to enjoy Dex and Em's happily-ever-after but alas they felt they'd indulged us enough in the 14 episodes of the show.

Emma dies sooner in the show than she does in the book
Emma dies sooner in the show than she does in the book. Picture: Netflix

10. We never meet Dexter's new love interest

And finally, some fans might be happy to know that at the end of the book Dex does find love again. He falls for a character called Maddy, the manager at his café. This is missed out of the TV series and instead looks at how Dexter is able to move on from what has happened by focusing on his memories of Emma and spending time with his daughter.

By not including a sort of rebound relationship Dexter's character is able to feel fully formed on his own rather than needing to seek validation from a partner, a very nice touch from the editors of Netflix's One Day.

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