‘ 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

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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

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