It certainly pays to be a couch potato this month – there’s an embarrassment of riches on our TV screens right now, with gripping dramas left, right and centre. And embarrassment of a more literal kind too – I’m writing ahead the eagerly anticipated second episode of BBC One’s Wanderlust, which one TV reviewer warns us not to watch “with your parents or offspring” because it’s so saucy. Blimey! Starring Toni Collette and Steven Mackintosh as a middle-aged couple who attempt to jazz up their sex life by sleeping with other people, it kicked off last week with a festival of, um self-pleasure, including a wince-inducing scene of Collette’s teenage son walking in to the parental bedroom at an especially unfortunate moment.
Embarrassing, yes, but progress I say – it finally seems that TV makers have cottoned onto the fact that it’s not just buff, 22-year-old Love Island contestants who like having sex. Remember Apple Tree Yard last year? The BBC thriller about an adulterous relationship that spirals dangerously out of control was notable for its frequent scenes of midlife shagging, often al fresco, between leads Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin. Watson said at the time that she was drawn to the script because usually as an actor “as the years go by you get laid less and less on screen and then you sort of stop”.
Meanwhile, Bodyguard, the compelling BBC One Sunday night thriller that’s triggered a mandatory 9am Monday morning meeting by the Muddy HQ kettle to dissect, also doesn’t shy away from midlife sex – Keeley Hawes’ buttoned-up, steely, fortysomething Home Secretary doesn’t stay buttoned up for long when her thrusting, young police protection officer, played by Richard Madden, is around. (And can you blame her?) Although it looks like that all may well be over if last Sunday’s episode is anything to go by – I’ll say no more in case you’re yet to watch it.
And heading our way this Wednesday, 12 Sep at 9pm on BBC2, is Trust, a Danny Boyle-directed 10-parter based on the true story of the kidnap of young heir John Paul Getty III in 1973. Famously, his grandfather, John Paul Getty, refuses to pay the ransom. Played by Donald Sutherland, 83, JPG is depicted with his decades-younger girlfriend, prancing around naked, in a state of, er, extreme excitement, yelling, “I AM MAGNIFICENT!” On reflection, maybe we could do without seeing that. But people over the age of 40 being shown to enjoy a healthy sex life? Bring it on. Just not when the kids are in the room obvs.
What do you think about the spate of midlife sex on TV? Long overdue or cringey? Any, ahem, favourite scenes of late? (Keep it clean, people!) We’d love to know your thoughts – pop ’em in the box below.