41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Queering the Period Drama,
This review is from: Tipping the Velvet : The Complete BBC Series  [DVD] (DVD)
I didn't get the chance to watch "Tipping the Velvet" when it was first screened by the BBC in 2002, and have only recently had the pleasure. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't such sumptuous sexual and gendered liberalness - thankfully, the BBC took the book (beautifully written and themed to the teeth) and gave it the scriptural freedom it needed to express itself properly.
The product is "Tipping the Velvet", an unashamed exploration of gender and lesbian sexuality in Victorian England that deliberately questions manhood and womanhood, and the space between the two. We follow the protagonist, Nan Astley, on a bildungsroman from innocence to experience, through love and betrayal, from cross-dressing entertainment halls to dildo-wielding dominatrixes to proto-socialist paradise. If it sounds at all crude, it isn't - "Tipping the Velvet" *is* explicit, but the focus of the adaptation is not Nan's sexual initiations but her emotional trials. Her sexual explorations are part and parcel of this, but at no point does it degenerate into gratuitous displays. On the contrary, the sex scenes are accomplished with a commendable grace and poise, removing the usual aura of sordidness that surrounds the portrayal of same-sex relationships. The themed imagery comes thick and fact - the title itself being a euphemism - and begs us to think about the implications of acting, queerness, femininity, moral norms and love.
Furthermore, the overall standard of production itself is high, while Andrew Davies' script is spot-on for tone and characterisation. A few anachronistic slips can be forgiven I think. :-)
Overall, excellent thought-provoking entertainment for people of all sexual persuasions.