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
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss