Well, I didn’t see much birching going on in BBC4’s Fanny Hill last night. Presumably they’re saving up all the bottom fireworks for the second episode. But I’m not at all hopeful. I think we are going to see Mr Barville being submissively beaten by Fanny (see right), but the scene in which they switch, will be conveniently overlooked.
If this is the case, then it will be similar to ITV’s Belle de Jour, in which Billie Piper played a modern day Fanny Hill. The S&M scenes consisted of a man being ordered around on all fours by her, and made to lick the toilet bowl, before being whipped. The whipping was excessive, as Belle took out her personal problems on the poor man’s backside, by continuing to lash him even after he had used a safe word.
Showing a man being flogged unreasonably is more acceptable than showing a woman undergoing any kind of spanking, it would seem.
In the U.S., the post-Secretary climate has produced spanking scenes in 5ive Girls, Californication, and now a new sexed-up spanking in the teen drama Normal Adolescent Behavior. Haven’t British directors woken up yet to the fact that m/f spanking is hot, fashionable, fun, and there’s a broad spectrum of people out there that want to see it? Including women.
Still, I enjoyed the show, especially Rebecca Night’s performance as Fanny. She is just the kind of woman that would have been truly appreciated in the Eighteenth Century. She would have made a great model for one of Thomas Rowlandson’s drawings such as The Exhibition Staircase in which a procession of curvaceous women tumble down the notoriously steep staircase at Somerset House, revealing all to the delight of the male spectators.
She also looked a lot like T.V. presenter Kirstie Allsopp.
I once posted a list of the U.K.’s sexiest larger celebrities which included Kirstie. If you haven’t got a clue who she is, the picture above left might at least help to explain some of her appeal.
It’s good to see actresses and presenters challenging barriers regarding body shape. On the other hand, it’s a shame that established directors such as Andrew Davies haven’t also got the guts to challenge outdated notions of political correctness in their depiction of kinky sex.
It will be particularly ironic if Davies, who is notorious for ‘sexing up’ the classics, actually sexes down this one. Are we still not ready to embrace some of the things that John Cleland wrote about nearly three hundred years ago?
Of course, it’s possible the second episode will include a graphic depiction of Fanny’s rotund Allsoppian butt-cheeks being bared, and lovingly tingled with a birch rod until they turn a beautiful shade of rose pink.
But it’s looking about as likely as Kirstie Allsopp being asked to present a new series called Flagellation, Flagellation, Flagellation!