Fanny Hill (BBC-4 2007 with Rebecca Night and Samantha Bond)

UK / BBC Four / 2×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 22-29 October 2007

Writer: Andrew Davies / Book: John Cleland / Script Editors: Devora Pope, Gillian Clarke / MUsic: Rob Lane, Rohan Stevenson / Production Design: David Roger / Executive Producer: Eleanor Moran / Producer: Nigel Marchant / Director: James Hawes

Even before he made waves for infamously sexing up the BBC’s classic take on Pride and Prejudice, writer Andrew Davies was never one to shy away from the more carnal aspects of life, so when it came to writing this adaptation of John Clelands notorious 18th century erotic novel, Davies was obviously first choice.

The gorgeous Rebecca Night, in her first leading role, stars as Fanny, who takes us into her confidence as she makes her way in the world. Left an orphan after her parents both die of smallpox, Fanny moves from the country up to the big city of London where she quickly falls under the tutelage of a brothel madam. Realising that prostitution is in fact the key to her survival Fanny wholeheartedly embraces her new role as a lady of pleasure, her problems only begin when she meets a man she falls in love with. At its heart though FH is the story of a woman’s fight for her independance at a time when that was virtually impossible.

Made for BBC4 (with a repeat screening on BBC Two a couple of months later on 14 and 19 Dec) and given a big budget and excellent cast, including the likes of Alison Steadman as Mrs Brown and Hugo Speer as Mr H. This, like the earlier Davies adaptation Tipping the Velvet, is lavishly sprinkled with nudity and sex scenes and like TTV it is also incredible watchable.

TRIVIA: Cleland actually wrote Fanny Hill in 1748 whilst in debtors prison and the book itself was banned for three centuries but thrived on the black market.

Rebecca Night as Fanny Hill
Samantha Bond as Mrs Cole
Alison Steadman as Mrs Brown
Alex Robertson as Charles Standing
Hugo Speer as Mr H
Ruth Sheen as Mrs Jones
Emma Stansfield as Esther Davies