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Wednesday, 3 February, 1999, 16:59 GMT
Women behaving badly
sex in the city
Frankness in the city: Charlotte, Carrie, Samantha and Miranda
Comedy fans sick of Ally McBeal's angst-ridden crises are in for a treat as Channel 4 shows a raunchy new US sitcom.

Sex And The City features attractive, successful women in their 30s like Ally - but that's where the similarities end.

Whereas Calista Flockhart's character is coy about her few sexual encounters, Sex And The City's central characters Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda are always discussing their dating dilemmas - in intimate detail.

The 12-part series - based on the novel and newspaper column by Candace Bushnell - was a cult hit when first screened on Home Box Office in the US. Now Channel 4 is to show it from 3 February.

In one scene in the back of a taxi, three of the women discuss with the other her boyfriend's intimate sexual demands. In another, two characters caught in a compromising position in a changing room at US store Banana Republic are spotted by an assistant, who complains: "This isn't The Gap!"

'Cynical view' of single life

For all the promiscuity and strong language, the show was dreamed up by Darren Star - the man behind the considerably more innocent Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place.

ally mcbeal
Calista Flockhart: Angst-ridden Ally McBeal
"I read Candace's column and I knew her and I told her I wanted to do something with it - I liked the cynical view she had of about people in New York in their 30s looking for relationships," said Star.

"The show is perhaps less cynical than the column, but I saw it as an opportunity to do something real and funny about relationships among single people in their 30s."

It is rare for US comedies to be so explicit. British hit Men Behaving Badly was toned down when it was exported across the Atlantic, and Ellen caused a furore when the lead character came out as a lesbian - shortly after actress Ellen DeGeneres declared she was gay herself.

Reflecting real life

But Star said his show reflects real life. "It's a lot about talking about sex, thinking about sex. Every third thought is a sexual thought, and I think that's what this show is about - what people are really thinking about is sex."

Carrie - played by Sarah Jessica Parker - justifies her sexual escapades by calling it research for her newspaper column. In it, she asks questions such as "are threesomes the new sexual frontier?"

Topic such as this fuelled Candace Bushnell's New York Observer column.

Parker, who is married to Godzilla star Matthew Broderick, is reported to have insisted her language was turned down, and refused to do nudity.

She said: "For myself, those words just don't roll out of my mouth."

Kim Cattrall, who plays the programme's raunchiest character - PR executive Samantha - quipped: "It's very thrilling for me to have a new boyfriend every week."

The other characters are na´ve Charlotte, played by Kristin Davis, and cynical lawyer Miranda, played by Cynthia Nixon.

See also:

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An evening with Bridget Jones
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