Victorian lesbian drama Tipping The Velvet follows Nan Astley, a young oyster maid from Witstable, becomes enamoured with the music hall performer Kitty Butler who performs a male impersonation act. They fall in love and when the big time beckons for Kitty in London, Nan goes with her and joins the act.
When Kitty betrays her, Nan leaves and becomes a prostitute doing favours for gentlemen while dressed as a boy. She is rescued from this by Diana Letherby and goes to live with her as her tart to show off to her friends at parties. When Diana throws her out for a dalliance with Zena the maid, Nan is left destitute and seeks the help of Flo who takes her in and a loving relationship develops – then Kitty re-enters her life and Nan has to choose between the two.
UK / BBC-2 / 3×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 9-22 October 2002 / 9:00pm
Novel: Sarah Walters / Adaptation: Andrew Davies / Executive Producers: Sally Head, Gareth Neame, Sally Woodward Gentle / Producer: Georgina Lowe / Director: Geoffrey Sax
RACHAEL STIRLING as Nan Astley
KEELEY HAWES as Kitty Butler
ANNA CHANCELLOR as Diana Lethaby
JODHI MAY as Florence
SARA STOCKBRIDGE as Dickie
SALLY HAWKINS as Zena Blake