Tipping The Velvet (BBC Drama, Rachael Stirling, Keeley Hawes)

Period drama Tipping The Velvet set in Victorian times, follows Nan Astley (Rachael Stirling), a young oyster maid from Witstable, who becomes obsessed with the music hall performer Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes) who performs a male impersonation act. The pair fall in love and when Kitty moves to London Nan follows and joins the act.

When the relationship falls apart Nan ends up working as a prostitute but is rescued by Diana Letherby (Anna Chancellor) only for Nan to spoil things by having an affair with Diana’s maid Zena (Sally Hawkins). Once again back on the streets she eventually finds love with Florence (Jodhi) but then Kitty reappears in her life…

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Rachael Stirling as Nan

Tipping The Velvet notched up a veritable media frenzy when it aired in 2002, the more salacious tabloids really embracing the admittedly frank nature of the lesbian scenes in the three part drama. It was the first of Sarah Walters’ novels to be adapted for TV.

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Cast: 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

Writer: Andrew Davies / Novel: Sarah Walters / Executive Producers: Sally Head, Gareth Neame, Sally Woodward Gentle / Producer: Georgina Lowe / Director: Geoffrey Sax

UK / BBC-2 / 3×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 9-22 October 2002

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.