The Crimson Petal And The White was recently shown as a four-part adaptation of Michel Faber's 2002 best selling novel. As the website dedicated to this fantastic production says,
A tale of love, lust, desire and revenge, it reveals the true sexual politics of Victorian life. In the words of the heroine, Sugar: "If you dare enter this world, you had better tread carefully."
Director Marc Munden on The Crimson Petal And The White: "We filmed in the courtyard of Manchester Town Hall - a Victorian gothic cathedral-like space - and brought in tons of mud, built slums and open sewers within it."
Sugar is a sexually adept prostitute whose reputation for sensuality precedes her; alluring and highly sought after she ‘never disappoints’. Her intelligence and wit sets her apart - self-educated and ambitious, she’s able to engage in heated discussion whilst satisfying her clients.
Having spent years at the mercy of men, Sugar yearns for a better life and craves the freedom to make a living using her brain rather than her body. When not at work Sugar pens a dark, gothic novel in which a prostitute enacts revenge on all the men who have wronged her - a theme that has threatened to seep into reality. With the arrival of William Rackham, this escape becomes a tangible prospect - and one that Sugar is keen to exploit.
The inimitable Mrs Castaway runs the celebrated brothel in St. Giles where Sugar has worked all her life. Her walls are plastered with images of her favored saint Mary Magdalene and she keeps an unyielding grip on the girls she employs. When William falls for Sugar, Mrs Castaway hesitates at granting him exclusive access as it would mean taking the brothel’s most desired property off the market.
An egotistical perfume magnate who is loathed to join his father’s business, William is a failed writer and deeply in debt. His luxurious house in Notting Hill offers modest comfort for him, despite the strain of looking after his increasingly unstable wife.
As Sugar becomes increasingly integral to William’s success, it seems he will stop at nothing to keep her by his side. He moves her into her own house.
William’s delicate and disturbed wife, Agnes spends her days writing her memoirs, conveying her misguided notions to the world. Fiercely religious, Agnes is buoyed by the belief that she has a guardian angel, and will one day escape her caged existence to live in the ‘Convent’ that she visits in her dreams.