Sexy, druggy Tory story upsets 'old school'

Andrew Davies's TV adaptation of Booker Prize-winning novel about the Thatcher years ruffles feathers

The BBC2 series, which starts this week, is based on the acclaimed novel by Alan Hollinghurst, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2004. It chronicles the experiences of Nick Guest, a gay Oxford graduate who finds himself lodging with a Conservative MP. He lives a debauched life of wealth, sex and cocaine as he mixes with fellow young Tories at the height of the 1980s boom.

In one scene he dances with Margaret Thatcher while high on cocaine, shortly before taking part in a threesome with two other men. This has outraged those Conservatives who were addicted to nothing more than monetarism at the time. They always had their suspicions about the pinkoes at the BBC, and now they can accuse them of rewriting Tory history with a Blairite spin.

The MP Ann Widdecombe yesterday said the corporation was being "mischievous" in its depiction of the Tories. "The day that the BBC gives the Conservative Party a fair deal will be the day that I fall over in a dead faint ... Anyone who tries to attach today's values to the world of 20 years ago is simply not being historically true. This does not sound to me like a faithful reflection of the Tory party that I knew at that time."

The former Tory cabinet minister John Redwood said: "If you want to see champagne lifestyles, then you want to go to the Blairite government. The programme-makers forget that Thatcherism was all about giving opportunity to people who hadn't had any before."

This is not the work of a left-wing agitator, however. The series has been adapted by the accomplished screenwriter Andrew Davies, who has won acclaim and awards for series such as Pride and Prejudice and Bleak House, as well as films such as Bridget Jones's Diary. It mostly stars newcomers, but features Blackadder and Notting Hill star Tim McInnerny as MP Gerald Fedden.

Some Tories have praised the adaptation. Alan Duncan, the shadow Secretary of State for Trade and the Tories' first openly gay MP, said: "I think it's really enlightened of the BBC to do this. I suppose there are many interesting themes in the book. The repressed sexuality, the allure of Margaret Thatcher, the glory of being in office, the whirl of a time of moral reappraisal all comes out in the book. It is so persuasive and realistic. It was asking to be put on television."He did not believe the work would be offensive to the party. "I can't think of anyone currently in the mainstream of the party who would be the least bit bothered."

A BBC spokeswoman defended the decision to make the drama, which begins on Wednesday. She said: "This is an adaptation of an award-winning work of fiction - we're not presenting it as a reality-based account of what happened at that time. It's up to the audience to take from it what they will. It's a very powerful and important piece of work."

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay lobby group Stonewall, welcomed the adaptation but said there was still more scope to reflect the lives of gay people more generally on screen.

"It is an extraordinarily good book and that is why the space is made for it," he said. "But there is still an issue about the writing and commissioning communities at the BBC feeling able to suggest dramas that include gay people in their normal lives."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Guru Careers: Web Developer / Javascript Developer

COMPETITIVE (DOE) + BENEFITS : Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Backend / HTML ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn