‘ We need to see Women having sex on screen’ Wanderlust hit British TV screens last week and was readily labelled the ‘raunchiest’ series to air in BBC history. Its star, Toni Collette, talks to Hannah Flint
We are undoubtedly living in the Golden Age of TV, but last week many wondered if we’re entering a new dawn: the Golden Age of sex on TV.
Keeley Hawes was shown in steamy sex scenes with Richard Madden in BBC’S Bodyguard ( it was subsequently named the most-watched TV show on the channel in 10 years). Then, days later, the Hollywood star Toni Collette fronted Wanderlust, a drama that follows a middle-aged couple who decide to sleep with other people after they realise their sex life has become… a little stale.
Cut to scenes rapidly branded the ‘raunchiest’ that have ever been seen on British screens, leading one newspaper to wonder, ‘ Why has TV gone sex mad?’ The drama is said to include the first ever female orgasm shown on the BBC, acted by Toni when her character Joy – a psychotherapist whose clients ironically often talk to her about the lack of passion in their own marriages – meets a new man at her local swimming pool.
But the furore surrounding the show has somewhat baffled Toni, 45. ‘ Wanderlust is about a woman owning her sense of self, making her own rules, carving her own path,’ she says. She’s making a life that suits her and I find it really inspirational.
‘I don’t know why people are nervous to look at or discuss sex. The sex in the show is in no way gratuitous. The very fact that there has been such a fuss about it demonstrates that there needs
to be more attention to real women and their complex wants and needs on the whole in storytelling, so that this isn’t an anomaly.’
Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine whether such scenes would provoke this much attention if the show was male-led. Plus, it’s not actually that jaw-dropping: yes, there’s sexual tension in almost every scene, between almost every character in it. But for anyone who hasn’t seen the show yet, it is warm, funny and will certainly stir debate about the state of our own sex lives, as well as the rules we all place on our relationships.
‘Some may clap, some may feel emboldened, some may be silenced,’ says Toni. ‘Some may be relieved to view some unslick and awkward encounters rather than the smooth, glossy version we’re usually fed. But Wanderlust is honest, fresh and original. I seriously doubt that anyone will turn it off.’
Above: Joy’s wish to wander has raised some questions. Left: Keeley and her bodyguard