Heads up: The Crimson Petal and the White
Lashings of lust and bawdy romps – it's the Victorians' secret
Sunday 20 February 2011
What are we talking about?
A four-part BBC drama adapted from Michel Faber's 2002 novel. Charting the relationship between a smart, scheming prostitute and a wealthy businessman, the Beeb promises it will reveal the underbelly of Victorian life in a way never before seen on screen. Expect lashings of lust, ambition and revenge.
The secret sex lives of the Victorians.
Michel Faber's novel was widely acclaimed and Lucinda Coxon should be up to the task of adapting (her plays include Happy Now?). It's directed by Marc Munden, responsible for Iraq war drama The Mark of Cain.
Quite the who's who of the British period drama: Romola (Emma) Garai and Chris O'Dowd (The Boat that Rocked, The IT Crowd) star, while Gillian Anderson – presumably channelling Bleak House not The X-Files – plays brothel owner Mrs Castaway. Richard E Grant, Shirley Henderson, Amanda Hale and Mark Gatiss all crop up too.
The Early Buzz
Tim Oglethorpe got a bit hot under the collar at the mere thought of all the bodice-ripping, writing in The Mirror: "Phew! Get set for steamy romps from the BBC with a bawdy new period drama packed with prostitutes and punch-ups." The Arts Desk website focused more on the drama as a highbrow jewel in the commissioning crown of a BBC that is "keen to boost its credentials".
A Hollywood version was in the pipeline back in 2002 when it was reported that Faber had sold the rights for $1m (£615,000) to Columbia. Laura Ziskin, executive producer of Pretty Woman – perhaps a fan of the prostitution theme –then got on board, and apparently had Kirsten Dunst in mind. But everything went quiet.
It's great that...
The adaptation may already have sparked new interest in the novel: Canongate reissued the book with a sexy cover, the title inked on a naked back, with book-club notes included.
It's a shame that...
It's only a mini-series; recreating nearly 900 pages might be a bit of a squeeze.
Given recent enthusiasm for costume dramas, the starry cast and the seedy sexiness of it all, this should be a hit. But only if handled right: there's a risk the show could be too raunchy for the safe Sunday-night slot, yet still too starchy for the Skins generation.
The Crimson Petal and the White will begin on BBC2 in March.
The best TV shows and films coming to the servicetv
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
House of Cards season 3: Claire Underwood is based on an eagle, says Robin Wright
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut