Lawrence's erotic classic to be dramatised by BBC

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The Independent Online
THE BBC is to dramatise Lady Chatterley's Lover on television - with toned-down sex scenes to ensure it is not banished beyond the 9pm watershed.

The pounds 3.7m series about the lusty affair between Mellors the gamekeeper and a married aristocrat is being brought to BBC 1 by the maverick director Ken Russell. It is likely to be screened next January, starring Joely Richardson and Sean Bean. D H Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover was the subject of a famous obscenity case when it was published by Penguin in the early 1960s.

Barry Hanson, executive producer, said: 'It's a sexy series but it's not all bonking.

'It's a great narrative, a classic novel, it has a lot of dimensions apart from the notoriety. We are treating this with the integrity it deserves. We have a sense of discipline and style and taste.'

But he said Mary Whitehouse had already been in touch to complain. 'She wrote to me 18 months ago when the idea was first mentioned. I replied saying she was a bit previous because I wasn't even sure the series would get off the ground.'

There will be a big jump in the amount of drama the BBC screens in the coming year, starting from September, one of the first signs of its new objectives in redirecting funds away from overheads and into programmes. Airtime given to drama, which includes soap operas, rises by 125 hours to 400 hours. The cost is pounds 147m.

The BBC's 25,000 broadcasting staff have accepted a 4.3 per cent pay rise.

BSkyB is installing a powerful computer system at its subscription centre in Livingston, Scotland, to handle the launch of pay- per-view on an experimental basis next year. This will be marketed for one-off events such as boxing matches and concerts. The knowledge gleaned will be used to smooth the introduction of pay- per-view for football matches, probably in 1994.

The channel, which is now provided free to homes equipped with an Astra-compatible satellite dish, switches to a scrambled pay channel from 2 September.