BBC One’s adaptation of DH Lawrence classic Lady Chatterley’s Lover has sparked speculation about its sex scenes before it even screens.
The latest screen incarnation of the 1928 novel about an aristocratic woman’s affair with a lowly gamekeeper stars The Borgias’ Holliday Grainger as Lady Chatterley, Happy Valley’s James Norton as her husband, Clifford, and Game Of Thrones’ Richard Madden as her lover, Oliver Mellors.
James Norton filming Lady Chatterley’s Lover (BBC Pictures)
Branded as ‘the new Poldark’ thanks to images of a bare-chested Madden in the trailer, the forbidden love which crosses the gulf in classes is sure to set pulses racing.
“People have sex,” Norton told Radio Times. “In 2015 we are no longer shocked by this, and we are no longer shocked that people in books also have sex.”
Following publication of the full version of Lawrence’s work, Penguin Books was tried under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 for frequent use of the word “f***” and its derivatives. The jury found for Penguin Books and since then Lady Chatterley’s Lover has enjoyed an infamy which remains just as potent today.
In addition to directing duties, Line Of Duty’s Jed Mercurio also wrote the new adaptation, which presents a more rounded picture of Lady Chatterley’s husband.
Constance Chatterley (Holliday Grainger) (BBC Pictures)
“Clifford goes off to war and receives this terrible injury that prevents him having sex. In the book, he’s quite stuffy and set up to be despised, but in our version his snobbery is qualified by his being a young man who is a victim,” observes Norton.
“Clifford suffers horribly from the fact that he’s unable to satisfy his wife. It’s alluded to in the book, but our story slightly pulls the curtains back on that. You see him in bed with Constance and he’s feeling totally emasculated.”
Oliver Mellors (Richard Madden), Constance Chatterley (Holliday Grainger) (BBC Pictures)
Mercurio’s script takes pains to make the viewer understand why Lady Chatterley has her affair.
The Grantchester actor adds: “All three characters are sympathetic. They’re just three young, relatively naive people, each of them trying to do the right thing.”
Norton believes television versions of literary classics can appeal to today’s young people who are more likely to enjoy reading updates on Facebook.
“TV adaptations have a real role to play here. I’m not suggesting Lady Chatterley’s Lover as ideal children’s viewing, but if we make classic stories relevant maybe that will encourage everyone to go back to the original text.”
Lady Chatterley’s Lover screens on BBC One on Sunday, September 6 at 9pm.