TV miniseries review: Between the Sheets (2003), directed by Robyn Sheppard and Jane Prowse
Written by Kay Mellor (who also wrote Jane Eyre ’97), this is a story about a couple, their family and their sex therapist – and the sex therapist and her family and her issues. Reason for getting this DVD: Richard Armitage, a.k.a. Paul, the sex therapist’s hubby.
I’ve heard before that this is a pretty raunchy show, with perhaps a bit too graphic details for most people, so I was expecting the worst. It wasn’t actually as terribly explicit as I feared. Perhaps seeing most of Richard Armitage in the buff was not so much of a shock as I had actually seen most of his appearance in this show before. The non-explicit bits you can find on YouTube, or at least you used to once upon a time, and the other bits you can find as a clip along with photos on another blog. This show is where the term “peaches”, often referred to in fandom, stems from.
But let’s not get bogged down by drooling over said peaches, and instead talk about the show itself. Which is actually a really good one, if perhaps a bit weird at times.
Also starring Dean Andrews as Steve Ashby, James Thornton as Hazel and Peter’s son Simon, Liz Smith as Peter’s mum (who seems to get laid more than he does), and Norman Wisdom Peter’s mum’s boyfriend.
Between the Sheets follows two primary couples: Hazel (Brenda Blethyn) and Peter (Alun Armstrong), and Alona (Julie Graham) and Paul (Richard Armitage). Frigid Hazel walks out on Peter after many years of marriage, because he’s having an affair with someone (Gaynor Faye) at the nightclub he owns. Peter, in turn, is having affairs because his wife, essentially, is scared of sex. They eventually end up in sex therapy, with Alona.
Alona is perhaps the opposite of Hazel, but her partner is withdrawn and, well, can’t get it up. Paul works as a probation officer and has been accused of having it off with one of the probation girls (Vinette Robinson) … which isn’t exactly Viagra in the bedroom. A lot of the story surrounding this situation is a big “did they or didn’t they?” – it kept me guessing all the way to the end. Aside from that, Alona was incredibly annoying as a character.
Hazel, too, got on my nerves, but she won me over. Fantastic acting by Blethyn, even though seeing her naked and getting shagged against a tree was never on my priority list, I have to say. Then again, neither was seeing Armitage’s cute buns (oh, but they are!) and him gettin’ jiggy. Well, thank goodness we didn’t have to see his front bits, or I wouldn’t be able to look at him on screen again without blushing like a tomato. I won’t divulge my thoughts about these scenes prior to having seen it, because I would only be repeating myself. He’s got some moves, though, I tell ya that.
I didn’t think I’d enjoy this miniseries very much, but it’s pretty good. Brings up a lot of stuff that’s kind of engaging to watch, even if I kept wishing we’d see more of Paul. Err, time-wise, that is. Skin-wise, we see quite enough. Okay, perhaps I should point out that I don’t think we see anyone’s private parts, so relax.
Oh, and there’s a cameo by Joe Armstrong (Allan A Dale in BBC’s Robin Hood) as well, and I think I read somewhere that he’s the son of Alun Armstrong?
All in all, if you’re not too squeamish about sex as a subject, you might enjoy it. This is not porn, but it’s still got a good amount of nudity and people talking about sex, not to mention actually having it (not for titillation, mind), so if that’s too much for you, then perhaps you’d want to give this a miss.
But I do say it’s memorable, and for that, it gets a 3.5 out of 5 peaches. (It had to be peaches.)