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Chatterley Affair, The (BBC-4 2006, Rafe Spall, Louise Delamere)



The masterly Andrew Davies turns his attention to a notorious trial that occured in October 1960 in the drama The Chatterley Affair.

After publishing the first unexpurgated edition of D H Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in England, Penguin Books was prosecuted for obscenity. In October 1960 at the Old Bailey in London, a jury of nine men and three women were sworn in for the most famous and sensational obscenity prosecution ever to take place. It could be argued that the outcome changed England for ever, ushering in what we now think of as ‘the sixties’, with everything that that phrase implies.

All the details of the trial are on record, except for what the jury said, thought and did. In this film Davies gets out the raunchy pen and focuses on two of the jurors who are headily swayed by the prose of Lawrence and begin a steamy affair. Before the trial could begin, the jury were ordered to read the book together, but silently, in the jury room. Imagine the strange, overheated atmosphere there must have been. If someone looked up from a steamy page and met another juror’s eyes.

Keith (Rafe Spall, Cracker, The Rotters Club) works as an invoice clerk. He’s quite humble, a respecter of authority, but he has his own inner core of steel. He’s married to his childhood sweetheart, Sylvia, who is pregnant with their first child. Helena (Louise Delamere, No Angels, Dirty War) is divorced, middle-class, rather brittle and cynical on the surface. She’s more experienced than Keith, and less easily shocked.

As they read the passionate descriptions of Constance Chatterley’s affair with Mellors, her husband’s gamekeeper, an affair develops, which is inter-cut with key moments in the court case and novel, archive material and ‘documentary’ interviews with the older Keith and Helena, forty-five years on. Their relationship becomes both a celebration and a critique of the novel.

Also featuring David Tennant in a cameo role, Pip Torrens, Donald Sumpter and Karl Johnson.

production details
UK | BBC Four | 1×90 minutes | Broadcast 20 March 2006

Writer: Andrew Davies
Script Editor Helen Raynor
Music: Nicholas Hooper and The Beatles
Production Design: Maurice Cain
Executive Producers: Julie Gardner, Bethan Jones
Producer: Karen Lewis
Director: James Hawes

Rafe Spall as Keith
Louise Delamere as Helena
Mary Healey as Vera
Gerard Horan as Jocular Juror
David Fairweather as Timid Juror
Antony Carrick as Older Educated Male Juror
Paul Antony-Barber as Superior Juror
Kenneth Hadley as Court Official
Donald Sumpter as Mr Gerald Gardiner
Ron Donachie as Sir Allen Lane
Karl Johnson as Judge
David Annen as Clerk of the Court
Kenneth Cranham as Older Keith
Claire Bloom as Older Helena
Pip Torrens as Mr Griffith Jones
Alyson Coote as Sylvia
Shaughan Seymour as Graham Hough
Selina Cadell as Helen Gardner
Anna Barry as Joan Bennett
Graham Seed as Bishop of Woolwich
David Tennant as Richard Hoggart
Nicholas Pritchard as Hector Hetherington
Montserrat Lombard as Bernadine Wall