Prude Brits left red faced over French ‘porno’ TV drama

Steamy French period drama is arousing the anger of the prude Brits and the French are enjoying mocking their "conservative" neighbours.

Prude Brits left red faced over French 'porno' TV drama
A shot from the trailer. Photo: Screengrab/Canal+

Trust the British to get hot under the collar about what the French would probably just describe as a romance.

The multi-million euro French period drama Versailles, which depicts King Louis XIV's life as he builds the Versailles Palace has aroused passions in the UK, but not of the kind the series had hoped for.

The ten-part series hasn't even hit British screens yet, but has already met with backlash from Conservative MPs, family rights activists in the UK and of course the country's right-wing tabloid The Daily Mail.

Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust told The Local: “Public service broadcasting is meant to be for the public benefit, but it is very difficult to see whose benefit is being served by showing such highly graphic and explicit scenes on TV.

“Amid mounting concern about the damaging consequences of pornography for individuals and their relationships, there is no justification for bringing such sexually explicit material into people's living rooms,” said Wells.

UK tabloid the Daily Mail, not exactly the country's moral compass, labelled Versailles as “primetime porn” and said it had “the most graphic sex scenes ever on British TV”.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told the newspaper: “There are channels where, if you wish to view this sort of material, you would have to pay for it. BBC viewers don’t have a choice. They have to pay for it whether they approve or not.”



The newspaper was shocked by the first episode of the €30 million series, which it noted “includes gay sex, a cross-dressing prince and a queen with a penchant for dwarves”.

However, not all of its commenters seemed to agree. One, DeeDee from Chelmsford argued: “There should definitely be a lot more male nudity on TV for female viewers to enjoy” and several readers eagerly asked when Versailles would be aired.

Over on this side of the channel, the French press didn't understand what all the fuss was about, and didn't miss the chance to poke fun at the prudish Brits.

“Versailles is a porno series for the conservative Brits” headlined France's Huffington Post, which added that the British “were grinding their teeth” at all the grinding going on in the period drama.

Le Figaro mocked: “For [the Daily Mail], it's a porno broadcast in prime time. Oh my!”

While website 20 Minutes simply stated the obvious: “Versailles – Nudity shocks the British”

The French have had no such problems stomaching the salacious series, which received positive reviews in the media and filming of its second season is underway.

Le Figaro's review promised that lovers of crime series would enjoy Versailles' “spectacular side”, and only found fault with the historical inaccuracies of the series, while the other main gripe of French viewers was the fact that the king was played by a British actor and the series was created in English.

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France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had ‘marital duty’ to have sex with husband

A case has been brought against France at the European Court of Human Rights by a woman who lost a divorce case after judges ruled against her because she refused to have sex with her husband.

France taken to European Court over divorce ruling that woman had 'marital duty' to have sex with husband
Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

The woman, who has not been named, has brought the case with the backing of two French feminist groups, arguing that the French court ruling contravened human rights legislation by “interference in private life” and “violation of physical integrity”.

It comes after a ruling in the Appeals Court in Versailles which pronounced a fault divorce in 2019 because of her refusal to have sex with her husband.

READ ALSO The divorce laws in France that foreigners need to be aware of

The court ruled that the facts of the case “established by the admission of the wife, constitute a serious and renewed violation of the duties and obligations of marriage making intolerable the maintenance of a shared life”.

Feminist groups Fondation des femmes (Women’s Foundation) and Collectif féministe contre le viol (Feminist Collective against Rape) have backed her appeal, deploring the fact that French justice “continues to impose the marital duty” and “thus denying the right of women to consent or not to sexual relations”.

“Marriage is not and should not be a sexual servitude,” the joint statement says, pointing out that in 47 percent of the 94,000 recorded rapes and attempted rapes per year, the aggressor is the spouse or ex-spouse of the victim.