Sex on the Telly

If I wanted to be ‘turned on’, I would have tuned into the adult preview on my free digital TV package. Or waited for something naughty on Channel 4 or Five. The thing is, in the debate about whether there is too much sex on the telly, the question tends to centre on whole programmes devoted to the subject.

Certainly, at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, in August, in a discussion about sex on the telly – hosted by Richard Bacon and featuring Abi Titmuss – it was only in the context of whole programmes, or – in the case of the abortive Channel 4 Wank Week – whole series.

Everyone ought to attend an Edinburgh International TV Festival at least once, if only to be struck at all these decent, intelligent, middle-class people trying to second-guess what it is that the people want. And as Shakespeare was wont to chuck in a bawdy scene, so it’s casual fellatio slipped into an otherwise mundane drama.

It’s barely possible to negotiate one’s way through an ordinary night’s TV without having smut unexpectedly come your way (fnrr, fnrr) – not via the clearly billed ‘sex’ programmes, but smuggled into almost everything else that would like to call itself entertainment. We are a nation being constantly invited to be aroused.

Your granny wouldn’t know where to look, nor your eleven year-old child who has committed the cardinal sin of not going to bed by 9pm. Of course, their eyes have already been corrupted by the casual killing that comprises an average television advert for the latest video game. Or the passionate embrace that comprises an average TV ad for perfume.

And if it’s not a shagging scene in your next Stephen Poliakoff play, it’s blowjobs in a trailer for Fanny Hill. On the BBC. For sake of emphasis, let me write that just one more time: blowjobs on a trailer for a BBC costume drama.

Did you not notice? I did. Last night. While wondering whether the programme maker (or the Corporation, for that matter) was really wanting me to reach across for the tissues.

Mike Wilson

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