War and Peace: screenwriter admits he sexed up BBC adaptation, included incest storyline

'Occasionally I have written one or two things that Tolstoy forgot to write'

Clarisse Loughrey
Wednesday 30 December 2015 10:53
War & Peace - Prince Andrei
War & Peace - Prince Andrei

The screenwriter behind the BBC's newest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic War and Peace, Andrew Davies, has admitted to sexing up the tome for television audiences. 

Davies, responsible also for the BBC's famous Pride and Prejudice series, including that certain 'emerging-from-a-lake' scene, recently spoke to the Telegraph on adapting for television Tolstoy's sprawling tale of five aristocratic Russian families caught up in the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. 

He joked the task actually turned out to be "dead easy"; adding, "I haven’t felt any need to change War and Peace. Occasionally I have written one or two things that Tolstoy forgot to write."

When asked whether those things referred to the series' new sex scenes he answered, "He just didn't actually write the scenes and I couldn't see why. So I thought I would."

Davies has thus elaborated on a very brief reference to Boris (Aneurin Barnard) and Hélène Kuragin, then Countess Bezukhov (Tuppence Middleton), becoming lovers; evolving the union into a full-blown affair, "Well I thought that would make several little scenes: how it started, what happened in the middle, and how she gets rid of him in the end. And so that's something to look forward to in later episodes."

Controversially, the new material also involves an explicit, incestuous relationship between the reckless sibling pair, Anatole (Callum Turner) and Hélène Kuragin; featuring a sex scene between the two in the very first episode of the series. When questioned on its inclusion Davies stated, "It's subtly referenced in the book, absolutely."

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