The Scandalous Lady W – BBC 2

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I’m not entirely sure what the BBC were trying to achieve with this. Was it supposed to be a moralistic story of how upper-class women in the late 18th century were considered to be the property of their husbands? Or was it supposed to be a load of prurient, salacious stuff about a husband who enjoyed peeping through the keyhole at his wife in bed with other men? Either way, it wasn’t really very good.

For a start, the grammar was appalling. “She belongs to George and I!” – that sort of thing. You would really expect better from the BBC. Also, it came jumping backwards and forwards in time, which was confusing. On top of that, the attempts (shoved in every so often, in between all the bits about lovers, venereal disease, and who was doing what in the bath or outside the bedroom) to make a point about the very shoddy way in which women like Seymour, Lady Worsley were treated in English law at that time didn’t really come across very well in the context of the story. Lady Worsley would no more give up her quest for independence than would the American colonies (the real-life events on which the programme was based having taken place in 1781)!  Quest for independence? She wanted to leave her horrible husband and marry her lover: she was hardly burning her corset and demanding equal rights for women. It all sounded far too 20th/21st century, and it didn’t work.

Then there were all the bedroom, and indeed bathroom, scenes. OK, a big part of the story was that Lord Worsley had “debauched” his wife and she’d had all these lovers, but it went a bit OTT even so … rather like the horrendous “The Tudors” series, which also starred Natalie Dormer, or that programme a few years back set in Ancient Rome.

Overall, not very impressed. It was supposed to be a programme about a real-life Georgian scandal. It came across more like a rather poor Restoration comedy crossed with an equally poor late 20th century tale of a sister trying to do it for herself. Come on BBC – you can do far better than this. Try harder!

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