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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Tipping the Velvet: Your views
BBC Two's costume drama Tipping the Velvet is based on the novel by Booker-nominated author Sarah Waters, and adapted by renowned television writer Andrew Davies.
It examines the awakening of a young girl's sexuality as she embarks on a lesbian relationship with Kitty, a music hall impersonator.
"Despite the fine tale and good intentions of Tipping The Velvet's makers, it seems a sad inevitability that people around the land will be picking apart the steamy sex scenes rather than the finer points of this drama," said BBC News Online's Michael Osborn.
But what do you think?
This debate is now closed. Please see below for a selection of your comments.
Oh, who cares about the blasted sex scenes! Big deal. What I found disappointing was the simplicity of it all - visual symbolism laid on with a trowel. Seems to me that, after the feelgood fairytale romance of the first episode, this is going to turn into another angst story.
Were it not for the lesbian relationship involved, surely this story - girl goes to big city from small community and discovers the duplicity beneath the sophistication - would never have been made. It's a slightly sad reflection, both on TV and the audience, that what is (currently) a very basic and frequently-told story gets a great deal of excited attention simply because it contains two attractive actresses in bed together, and the promise of more nudity to come.
Lame, tame & poorly acted. A great disappointment.
Tremendous! Brilliant acting and a fast pace.
The flashback scenes to the rehearsal during the double act were a wonderful touch. The love scenes were tender and well shot (my mind kept thinking of how ITV would have handled this?) My only criticism would be that at an hour it was too short.
I thoroughly enjoyed this drama last night and think that the sex scenes were beautifully done. Congrats to the Beeb for having the courage to show this and to Keeley Hawes and Rachael Stirling for excellent performances.
I was really disappointed last night after the episode. It was not as I expected, the way the BBC advertised it as a highly erotic lesbian sex drama. It is so hard to believe that the BBC can go to this length to disappoint its viewers who pay TV Tax every month but get something so boring and pathetic. Just to win the TV ratings race, the BBC give the wrong impression.
Not impressed at all like so many of my friends. I haven't heard anybody saying that it was sexy enough.
There was nothing gratuitous about it, but it was an appallingly acted and scripted piece of drama. If I were the makers, I'd be relying on the sex to get it any viewers at all. With one of the most predictable cliff-hangers imaginable, it was also totally let down by the worst performance from a leading actress I have ever seen.
It was a really interesting drama, well acted, but it wasn't really gratuitous and to be honest it didn't live up to the hype. I will watch the second part because it had a strong storyline.
Rachael Stirling does an excellent impression of Kathy Burke when she plays Perry on the Harry Enfield show.
I was watching it with my wife and expected it to be terrible... I only came in because I was tired and wanted a lie down on the sofa. I was surprised by how well made it was. Gratuitous is the last thing it was, the sex scenes were utterly tame. I think it was excellent - intriguingly shot and cut together and not full of clichés like I expected it would be.
Well, I'm sure there will be complaints. I actually said to the rest of my family that I couldn't wait to see the reaction on this site! However, as the song says... "it's only human nature after all". Anyone with any complaints about the sexual content in this programme can only be concerned about the amount of it and the time it was shown, not the fact that it was lesbian sex.
Personally I had no problem with this programme as they were two consenting adults who were in love... indeed Nan had even "waited" until the right person came along. Surely this is a very positive message to promote to youngsters?
I found it very refreshing, it was very tastefully done. I think for a change it showed lesbians in a different light to how they are usually protrayed, it gives the viewer someone to relate to as they appear not that different, well done to the director. It might have been slightly shocking at first but such an eye opener!!
Absolutely wonderful, with so much passion and beauty attached to the love scenes, I was captivated. I think it is a beautiful thing to see the love between two women and the beautiful glow of the intimate scenes mixed with the reality of the attitudes of that era came across as an unspoken love. I can't wait until the second part.
On last night's showing it was poor. It failed to capture any of the magic I imagine you're supposed to feel about Nan's developing love for Kitty. Neither did you really have any sympathy for her when she discovers Kitty with Walter. It was boring really. And to top it all off, very poor sex scenes, unconvincing and not enough flesh!!
Firstly it's really about a voyage of discovery for a young woman in Victorian times trying to understand what life is about and where she fits in. Something that each and every one of us go through. As for the sex scenes, they were quite tame by today's standards. It certainly wasn't overtly glorified or dwelled upon and was really a part of Nan's self-discovery. Overall though I was left with a sort of empty feeling about the characters, I never felt I warmed to either of them. Kitty came across as obfuscating and Nan a little too naive and esoteric and you were just left with a feeling of ambivalence towards both of them.
I felt that the portrayal of lesbian sex in last night's episode was entirely justified and, indeed, integral to the plot. More of the same please BBC!
Hardly gratuitous - as my wife said, "That was about as rude as an advert for perfume". I thought it suffered from over-the-top, arty direction, for which I blame Moulin Rouge.
I enjoyed Tipping the Velvet a great deal. It portrayed the uncertainty and strength of emotion well, and it was refreshing to see something such as this on BBC Two rather that Channel 4. I'm really looking forward to the next episode: a BBC triumph!
I read the book over the summer and thought it was fantastic and thus have been eagerly awaiting the drama ever since. And last night I was not disappointed. Keeley Hawes is perfect as the enthralling yet closeted Kitty and Rachael Stirling gives the impression that she is going to portray Nan's journeys very convincingly. There are a few discrepancies with the novel, mainly detail that's been left out and I don't think it stressed Kitty's fear of being outed enough. However, it looks great and I can't wait for the next episode - well done girls. P.S. It would be interesting to know who the audience consisted of.
I thought it was very enjoyable. The two lead actors were brilliant.
Very well acted and tastefully done.
A very interesting tale, but there was no need to show the sex or even nudity. It attracts people to watch for the wrong reasons, thereby mitigating one of the thrusts of the story.
We liked it, done with taste the acting was good and the costumes etc. excellent.
I perferred Pride and Pejudice but then it has got Colin Firth in it hasn't it?
I watched this show last night and thought it a good period drama. The sex scenes were very limited and extremely tasteful. I'm sure the tabloid fuss was probably just a publicity ruse.
Although set in the Victorian era, it is a tale I am sure many girls and women can relate to even in the 21st century. And despite what the reviewers wrote, the sex scenes were not that steamy nor were they gratituous. At the very least, it is about the experience of falling in love.
This to me signified a shift in the BBC's output policy. It seems more and more intrinsic to the BBC that it has to resort to titilation, voyeurism et al previously the realm of the sub channels i.e. ITV and Five.
The way this programme has been marketed says it all really - two young fanciable lesbians each tasting forbidden fruit for the first time!
I loved it! I have a very loving and devoted boyfriend, but oh, I wish he'd sometimes say the nice things Kitty said to Nan yesterday. Men: listen and learn. I've got gay friends of both sexes, and to me that story was a beautiful love story spiced up with humour and warmth. And human nature. The story itself is a rather classical one, though; naive country girl meets more experienced city lover - the difference is that the lover is a girl. But love is love, and who cares what sex the object of love is?
I think the media should put their sensible heads on for once and stop trying to make something out of nothing. Their fascination with a bit of flesh was exemplified by Richard and Judy's inept interview of Rachael Stirling yesterday.
I thought the first episode was a very enjoyable hour's entertainment, well directed, a nice story and a welcome change from the normal stuffy period dramas such as Pride and Prejudice. It is, however, neither gratuitous nor an intriguing tale.
I watched Tipping the Velvet with no preconceptions and found it an engaging love story. Nan's emotional and sexual awakening were sensitively handled - and you can see more graphic sex scenes in pre-watershed soaps!
I don't know if it is gratuitous or intriguing, as I got bored after five minutes and turned over. Certainly the most over hyped TV drama in a long time.
Karen Hall, England
Excellent drama, funny, well acted, very watchable. The sex scenes were probably necessary but if anything detracted from the drama as a whole.
Don't know what all the fuss was about, have seen far raunchier and explicit scenes on Channel 4's Sex & the City.
It does not matter if Tipping the Velvet is gratuitous or intriguing because that is someone's subjective view. If you like it - great. If not, turn it off. I think a wide range of programmes on the BBC is essential and let people make up their own mind about what they watch. I personally believe that the BBC should make programmes to appeal to a wide audience and not accept moral shackles that appeal just a majority
Good drama, nice accents, only a bit of sex, it is the 21st century, so no big deal.
I switched on half way through and was rivited as much by the dark-haired girl's yokel accent as anything else. I thought it was excellent and the sex under the silk sheets was appropriate to demonstrate their discovery. I definitely plan to watch the next episode.
H Smith, UK
I thought it was very tame and a bit dull; nothing to get excited about in any way.
For too long now we have had gay men protrayed on the television, it's about time we saw the other side. This drama was excellent, an eye opener
A big let down, where was all the sex promised? It seemed to comprise of a few scenes showing ladies bare backs! Not exactly ground breaking.Will continue reading my Mills and Boon for a bit of excitement.
I must admit the thought of the steamy sex will be the reason why a lot of people will switch on, however I'm hoping the content and quality of the production and acting will keep them watching regardless of the subject it covers.
Jenny-Anne Dexter, UK
I think so far it's a story well told. There is an obvious theatrical flair to the editing and the set pieces are executed brilliantly. Not to mention the acting is spot on. The twist at the end of the programme last night was something you expected, but from the vantage point of Nan you did feel your heart sink. I'll be watching the next hour with relish.
What a great drama. Can't wait to see the next showing.
Keep up the great work.
Great feeling of the times gone by.
I enjoyed this drama which seemed to capture the spirit of the time and milieu very well indeed. The sex scenes weren't any more graphic than many similar productions where a heterosexual relationship is the central theme (possibly less so) and were so joyous in their depiction that only the most prudish (who should have switched off at the pre-broadcast warning) could take offence.
I believe the programme was superb and sensitively portrayed. The performances by both actresses were brilliant.
Another excellent period drama from the Beeb. The exploration of the developing relationship was well done and, in my opinion, not in the least gratuitous. Looking forward to the next episode. I intend to watch out for the book too.
Tim Metcalfe, UK
I thought the drama was enthralling. As an "out and proud" lesbian, I was pleased to see the subject tackled honestly and candidly. Obviously, there are those members of the public which will watch for cheap thrills but then they are the ones that quite often victimise lesbians. It is sad to see that double standards are still alive and well, a legacy from Victorian times which would have been better left there. My only critiscism is Nan's accent, she obviously went to the Dick Van Dyke school of Cockney and had Mo Slater (EastEnders) as a teacher. Carry on the good work BBC, this one will be a classic.
To be honest, I think the story line is pretty weak, so far, even though the concept is interesting.
What was gratuitous was the fast-cut, sudden slo-mo direction that masked the slenderness of the story. Andrew Davies, so excellent at bringing to life the subtleties of the classics, has here struggled to find any depth in an over-hyped book. The girls look pretty, though.
Complete and utter dross. Terribly acted...especially the accents. If anybody has seen Legz Akimbo's acting prowess from the League of Gentlemen, you'll understand this¿
It's a story about love and sex, so the sex scenes cannot be gratuitous, can they? They are inevitably a neccesary part of the story. If anyone is upset by a series about sex they ought to go and have some themselves and stop being so uptight. Generally I thought it was a good story well handled: my only objection was the "fast-forward" through towards the end gave the treatment of the sex scenes a "Carry On" feel.
I thought Tipping the Velvet was wonderful! It was funny, moving and beautifully acted and its basic subject matter is love and its passions and confusions - something we can all identify with. Congratulations on making such an excellent drama!
It was well acted, had a good pace and was generally very watchable. The plot struck me as somewhat implausible though. But I'll be watching next week (just for the acting quality of course - nothing to do with Keeley Hawes naked or anything, oh no.)
"The drama deals with the underbelly of Victorian society." Clearly someone has written that with tongue in cheek. The sex scenes are very valuable to a minority, and entertainment to the majority. Very well done!
For once I totally agree with the BBC's spending of my licence fee.
Rachael Stirling's voice is one of the most irritating ever heard on television. Her accent and delivery are so obviously artificial, disbelief cannot be suspended.
Delightful, intriguing, love story, which was not gratuitous. On the contrary, the sex scenes were presented delicately and are absolutely essential to the tale in creating atmosphere and developing the viewers' understanding of the women's relationship.
I was relaxed about my 14-year-old son watching with me and we discussed how, although society was so intolerant (and ignorant) of alternative lifestyles at that period in history, that so much intolerance, prejudice and ignorance still exists. We shall certainly be watching the rest of the series.
I had been looking forward to this programme, but the moving hand-held camera images made me feel uncomfortable, and I turned off after only three minutes.
It was a really good show, tastefully done and edited. Well done to all concerned on such a good performance. I look forward to the second and third parts.
A nice show but raunchy? I don't think so...
Tripe and nonsense, not unlike the vast majority of BBC's dumbed down output these days. Yawn.
It seemed initially sympathetic towards lesbian women, but the storyline eventually gave way to gratuitous drama - much the same as an every day soap opera.
I thought it was brilliantly acted and very gripping. I am looking forward to next week, and think if people don't like the lesbian scenes - they shouldn't be watching it in the first place. It's not like they haven't been warned!!!!! Also thought Nan was the image of Martin McCutcheon.
If people were expecting a lesbian porn fest, they would have been disappointed by the first episode. Personally, I thought it was the most thoughtful and innocent love story told with the BBC's usual flair for a great yarn. I loved it, and cannot wait for part 2!
Like a slow burning wick to a powder keg; sparks and fizzles that lead inevitably to a possibly predictable end - but where next? I want to know and will be watching.
Sara Sabir, UK
I thought it was very good, very well directed and shot. I admit that l started initially watching it because l thought it would be erotic, but l was surprised that it was more of a sensitive period story.
Good drama, interesting story, good camerawork and direction. Enjoyable to watch. Nice to see people shown "making love" rather than just the usual aggressive bonking sessions where love does not enter into it.
Apart from Nan's slightly annoying, deep voice, Tipping the Velvet was the most fantastic period drama I have ever watched. The scenes of intimacy were extremely artistic and beautiful. I can't wait for the next two episodes.
I enjoyed the drama and am looking forward to the next two parts - I didn't think it was steamy at all - just a frankly told story.
A well acted excellent drama. Of course it was going to be seen as gratuitous. It was clear before it was shown what it contained and was marketed as such. To then argue its artistic merits is a case of trying to have your cake and eat it.
Revd Tisdale, North Herts
The young girl "awakening her sexuality" sounded like she was doing a poor Frank Spencer imitation with that appalling accent. The story lacked depth & did not draw you in, relying on the sex scenes to try & generate any drama. This seemed like lightweight Music Hall entertainment itself, not the usual high standard costume drama that the BBC can produce.
I don't know what the intentions of the makers were, but I thought this first part of the drama was very fine. The photography was beautiful; the portrayal of Victorian life was refreshingly unfussy; the evocation of sexual and romantic awakening was electric. Yes, the sex scenes were also excellent, but also dignified and restrained given the potential scope for straightforward titillation. An excellent and unusual drama, for which many thanks.
I spent several years studying costume drama as part of my studies and I do not think this is a particularly good or well written story. The notoriety that this drama has gained through the sex scenes will assure good ratings, as is normally the case. No one would be in the least bit surprised if this was being shown on Channel 5.
I was actually more impressed by Tipping the Velvet than I'd expected; the sex scenes were tasteful and central to the story, and the acting was first-rate.
The only thing I disliked was the pointless, obtrusive voice-over. The subtlety of the acting in some scenes was obscured by the narrator's statements of the obvious. Perhaps the audience should occasionally be trusted to do some of the work?
In typical British fashion, commentators are picking apart the steamy sex scenes while at the same time criticising the drama for being too raunchy. What a bunch of hypocritical old men. You can bet they're all secretly salivating at the mouth over the thought of two women together, while outwardly complaining about the lack of family values on TV today. If anyone's perverted, it is these old farts.
Why do you have to put "raunchy drama" as the strapline for a TV drama that includes lesbian content? It reduces lesbians solely to the sex they have, and connotes depravity. This is unfair, sensationalist, and I would expect better of the BBC....
Tipping the Velvet is a very finely crafted drama. What else is there to say?
The worst thing about it was probably the music - it was dire! Didn't fit the period at all, and the Moulin Rouge style bits were very pointless and irritating.
Even so, I think there should definitely be more of this sort of thing on the BBC!
I think this has to be one of the best programmes ever broadcast on the BBC as it was an "in yer face" drama about life back in the day. I am male and did not "get off" on the lesbians but it did go to show that women are good lovers.The direction was spot on as I could easily tell this was not filmed pornographically. I'm not too sure about other males who watched it. Good on you BBC for showing this, and don't spend stupid money on Harry Potter and the like. We need to know our TV licence money is going into good British programming such as period dramas and comedy such as The Kumars, My Family, My Hero, etc.
I don't think it was gratuitous at all. It just seemed to convey what its about - love. Irrespective of what sexes the two people involved are.
Sure the sex scenes were good considering the time they were broadcast and the channel it was shown on, but I've seen more passion on seedy cable channels at 10pm. The writers should have at least extended those scenes a bit.
The acting was very good, though set over a century ago, its ideals haven't lost their meaning today. And it was a surprise to see Johnny Vegas on the programme, he's one of my favourite comics and I didn't know he did drama, so that made it all the better.
Overall, a great programme, but it'd be even better if the lesbian sex scenes were extended a bit and had more definition.
Laura K, UK
The acting was dreadful. Absolutely appalling. Every time Nan opened her mouth I couldn't stop wincing at the "accent" and her look seemed startingly reminiscent of Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummage.
Without a doubt, the best thing I have EVER seen. A triumph! I can't wait for next Wednesday...
Totally and utterly formulaic. Every plot piece was predicatable, there were no surprises, it insulted the intelligent viewer. Enjoyed every minute.
I thought the love story between the two girls was sensitively handled and brilliantly performed by Keely Hawes and Rachael Stirling. The direction was a bit clunky and self-conscious in places though, but it was a well paced and entertaining first episode. I'll continue to watch, not for the love scenes, as like any love scene between any combination of gender, they can be very boring to watch and only serve to get in the way of the story and plot.
I loved the recreation of the Music Hall, a great period in British theatre and entertainment. I also liked the way the characters were never judged, ie, men bad, women good. They were just human.
Marie Cameron, United Kingdom
Congratulations Beeb on a wonderful drama! We see plenty of sex scenes of this intensity in other dramas all the time - why such as fuss because it is two women? Surely we are not still clinging onto our Victorian values! It is so important for gay people to have intelligent and entertaining representation in the media. Perhaps one day gay actresses themselves will feel no need to hide their sexuality - then we will be making real progress!
Overall, last night's episode was good enough to kill time when there's nothing else on telly. For my liking, not enough time was spent on the development of the characters, e.g. the storyline from the point Nan felt unsure about the relationship to her boyfriend to her decision to move to London just seemed hurried in order to get the love scenes going. The acting was reasonable, no outstanding performances at all. I might watch it again whenever I get bored.
I thoroughy enjoyed it for the period and for the story. The acting especially from Rachael Stirling (Nan Astley) was excellent. It's programmes like this that help to make the TV licence fee value for money so I can't complain. I must say that it is far from gratuitous, in fact I found it a rather beautiful story.
The quality of the programme is superb.The acting is magnificent.The subject is all too human. It's about love between two souls and how society views people who fall in love with the same sex. But also it is about people who worked and lived in Victorian times. And it goes to show that over a hundred years later people still have a problem with this subject. Strange concidering the same people don't mind watching violent war films on TV Keep up the good work and make more of them.
Didn't live up to its billing. I suppose Aunty Beeb might see it as racy.
It was an engaging enough hour of television, but the pace of the opening was too quick, the direction was hackneyed and what on earth can you say about the terrible over emphasis of the voice-overs? I think the BBC are just going to have to be disappointed that this programme is not going to be as controversial as they hoped.
Within 10 minutes I had switched over to Faking It (which was quite enjoyable) as Tipping the Velvet was just pretty boring images with a dull story. My Japanese wife could hardly follow the words, and we saw nothing in the slightest bit arousing or stimulating in that first 10 mins.
How pleased I am to see men like Raj (above) turning off from Tipping the Velvet. When such a fantastic book was going to be turned into a BBC Drama, I got very excited, but for different reaons to Raj et al. It was really well done, and very true to the book. It's just a shame that the BBC had to lower themselves to marketing it as some sort of substitute for porn. Perhaps now we've got the first episode out of the way, all the tourists can go back to watching ITV, or in some cases their "private" video collections!
It was excellent. A refreshing, simple, feel-good drama. I will certainly be buying the book.
The negative comments above seem to be from people over-analysing it.
I thought it was superb. Excellent acting, very moving and looking forward to the next installment. The only disappointment was when it ended!
I think that this show is brilliant!
Great sensitive acting and directing. One of the best BBC dramas to date.
Nan's voice is awful. I thought she was putting it on!! She gets increasingly annoying to listen to. Other actors were good - pretty good adaptation so far.
The BBC drama Tipping the Velvet was absolutely brilliant, as a university student it was rare that me and my friends were in to watch it, we are very glad we did, the acting was excellent, the view into the underbelly of victorian life was spot on, and as a History student I was very impressed. Every Wednesday night is our staying in night thanks to this wonderful drama from the BBC! Thanks!
What was that taxi driver thinking? Charing Cross to Brixton (which I do often) via St. Pauls and one of London's parks? They was robbed!
What a fantastic piece of drama. The classic filming style and lighting was brilliant. The acting class A, BBC quality proves itself once again.
Why do TV producers make these sad soft porn dramas? People who object to porn hate them, and people who like porn hate soft porn!
This programme was very disappointing indeed. The story line was linear and predictable. As a love story it was second rate and very Mills & Boon. Clearly the drama was relying on the lesbian angle to carry the audience.
The characters were very flat and were not fleshed out enough. Nancy was supposed to be this woman who discovers her sexuality, but there seemed to be no personal struggle in the character tryng to come to terms with her sexuality. This seems very unlikely considering the social pressures of the period in which the drama was set.
However the camera work was good as was the costume and makeup.
Overall however it was a poor piece of drama, my wife and I will not be watching next week.
Both Rachael and Keeley performed brilliantly. There was a real conveyance of the passion the characters felt. It was also shot well with clever cinematography and taste for what was needed to tell us the audience EXACTLY what was going on. I look forward to next week.
Frankly I thought the drama was disappointing, especially the poor acting.
Tipping the Velvet, based on seeing just episode one, is superbly faithful to the Sarah Waters novel which I have read several times. The acting by Rachael Stirling and Keeley Hawes is superb; the love-making is beautiful; the period recreation believable is and the overall quality of production as high as the BBC achieves in its finest dramas.
I wanted the drama to go on and on because I cared so much about the characters. Well done to everyone concerned.
How obvious was that storyline? And I'm sorry, but what was with all the "Matrix" style camera shots? The only good thing was that both main characters are acted beautifully. Was that Johnny Vegas I saw on stage?!
Whilst I quite enjoyed it, the accents spoit it, coming from Whitstable, we are not cockneys !
I'm just interested to see the large proportion of men who have commented on this site compared to the relatively few women. Can't help feeling that some men just like the site a bit of female flesh, whatever they might be doing. Personally I chose not to watch the film.
I feel this drama has given me an incredible insight into the culture of the Victorian times that I would never have even known existed. What makes this so compelling to watch is not the cheap thrill of yet another prospect of lesbian sex scenes, but how refreshing it is to see a character that so many people can relate to. The plight of Nan is one we can relate to only too well. Desperation to find our place in the world, desperation to love and to be loved, and desperation to fit in.
It was not the love scenes that I felt made this programme what it was, but the character's inspiring quest to find herself. Rachael Stirling's conveyal of Nan's betrayal by Kitty was heartfelt, and I will definitely be among others in anticipating the dramas return next week. Well done.
I enjoyed the programme and tuned in only by accident. I thought it was all very tastefully done and enjoyed the story - I thought Rachael Stirling was superb - even if she did remind me of Janine from EastEnders, (whilst Miss Kitty was a dead ringer for Kristen Scott-Thomas!)
More fuss should have been made of the production than the sex scenes which were - let's face it - lame; but then only a part of the piece as a whole. Will try and watch the next episode - although notorioualy bad at missing things I want to watch on TV! My only criticism would be that the style in my mind was that of Moulin Rouge, but without the after effects of digital imagery added in post production to really finish the pictures look and feel. Congrats to all involved - well done!
Competent BBC period drama, yes! Well directed and shot and well acted by all the cast but a rather dull simplistic story that wouldn't make it in to a soap.
Why did the simple oyster girl have such a silly voice?
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