The BBC’s Sunday night dramas are getting raunchier by the week; what started with Aidan Turner taking his top off in Poldark has lead to raunchy affairs in War and Peace, Tom Hiddleston showing off his body in The Night Manager and now what one headline has called "the most graphic sex scenes ever on British TV".
Costume drama Versailles - which depicts the lavish life of France's Louis XIV and was recently aquired from Canal+ by the broadcaster - has been accused of being ‘porn dressed up in a cravat and tights’ by MPs and family rights campaigners.
In the first episode alone - which has already aired in France - “gay sex, a cross-dressing prince, and a queen with a penchant for dwarves” are all shown. To The Daily Mail’s horror, there’s also a scene in which “the king, played by English actor George Blagden, is seen burying his head between his mistress’s thighs”.
According to the paper’s report, while the French were annoyed that the producers ‘dumbed down’ Louis’ lifestyle, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen is outraged by the series.
“There are channels where, if you wish to view this sort of material, you would have to pay for it," he said. “BBC viewers don’t have a choice. They have to pay for it whether they approve or not.
“Is this an example of the BBC dumbing down and seeking more sensationalised programming? That’s an arms race to the bottom – quite literally in this case.”
As well as the numerous sex scenes, there is also reportedly ‘gratuitous violence’ depicted on the show, including scenes of torture. Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, said: “Public service broadcasting is meant to be for the public benefit, but it is very difficult to see whose benefit is being served by showing such highly graphic and explicit scenes on TV.”
Ironically, Culture secretary John Whittindale has previously stated that he would rather see the BBC producing more “high-end shows like Game of Thrones” than talent contests like The Voice, Game of Thrones, of course, being best known for primarily being about “tits and dragons” as one cast member recently said.
Shocking Game of Thrones scenes
Shocking Game of Thrones scenes
1/9 Sansa/Ramsey rape scene
Season 5, episode 6: Fans were outraged as the episode ended with Sansa Stark being brutally raped by her new husband, Ramsey. The camera soon panned to Theon as he watched on, terrified.
2/9 Shireen burns at the stake
Season 5, episode 9:Stannis burns his daughter Shireen at the stake after Red Priestess Melisandre advises him to make a sacrifice to gain more power
3/9 Theon gets his penis chopped off
Season 3, episode 10: While being tortured by Ramsey, Theon Greyjoy goes through all sorts of pain. The most horrible though is when his penis is cut off and then sent to his family.
4/9 George Bush’s head on spike
Season 1, episode 10: According to the directors, they couldn’t get enough prosthetic heads made up for the show and ended up using the spare one’s lying around. One of those just happened to be the fake head of George Bush, which eventually ended up on a spike.
5/9 Joffrey murders two prostitutes
Season 2, episode 4: In one of his most violent moments, Joffrey finds himself with two prostitutes in his room and the most disgusting thing he can think to do with them, uses them as living targets.
6/9 The Red Wedding
Season 3, episode 9: It was the turning point for the entire show. Just as everyone thought it was going the Starks way, they nearly all end up murdered in one of the bloodiest episodes of any TV series ever.
7/9 Rat torture
Season 2, episode 4: Torture is a pretty common occurrence on Game of Thrones, but none were quite a bad as this. In the scene a bucket of rats is put to a man’s chest and then heated up with a flame so they must eat through the man to escape. Terrifying.
8/9 Mountain head explosion
Season 4, episode 8: Just as everything was going Oberyn Martell’s way, it all literally blew up in his face. The warrior ended up looking like a squashed watermelon in one of the most awful scenes in the entire series.
9/9 Theon botched beheading
Season 2, episode 6: Beheadings: In one of the more gruesome beheadings, Theon strikes Ser Rodrick Cassel not just once but four times in the neck, finally taking it all the way off with a kick.
The BBC's Head of Programme Acquisitions, Sue Deeks, believes Versailles will be a “delicious treat” for viewers, adding: "the historical setting is magnificent, the costumes are stunning and the series tells a fascinating story with intelligence, wit and stylish Gallic flair". The show has yet to receive a release date but will air on BBC 2 past the watershed. A second series has already been comissioned by Canal+.