Lady Chatterley's Lover
Richard Madden as Mellors and Holliday Grainger as Lady Chatterley in the BBC's new productionBBC/Hartswood Films

A new BBC adaptation of DH Lawrence's banned book Lady Chatterley's Lover, is said to be so explicit that they are almost not suitable for broadcast. The 90-minute drama retells the story of a passionate love affair between Lady Chatterley and her gamekeeper, Mellors.

Producer Serena Cullen told The Sun: "I was quite shocked reading the script, and when I saw the film, watching one sex scene. I have never seen anyone do the things Mellors, the gamekeeper, does to Lady Chatterley.

"I'm not sure what more we could have shown unless it was for porn. I've watched lots of Hollywood films where the girl wears a bra in bed – we didn't do that. So apart from them having sex starkers, which you wouldn't be able to put on any channel, I think we are quite rude."

Writer Jed Mercurio added: "It was very important that as many scenes as possible were about drawing out the love affair."

The new version stars Richard Madden, best known for his role as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, as the gamekeeper Mellors. Holliday Grainger, who was in Disney's Cinderella, is cast as Lady Chatterley.

In one scene, Mellors strokes his lover's thigh and tells her: "You've got a real soft sloping bottom. It's a bottom that could hold the world up."

Banned book

In Lawrence's book, first published in 1928, there are more than 30 f-words and 14 c-words spread out over 12 sex scenes.

In 1928 a heavily edited version was published in America. In 1930, US Senator Bronson Cutting declared: "I've not taken 10 minutes on Lady Chatterley's Lover, outside of looking at its opening pages. It is most damnable! It is written by a man with a diseased mind and a soul so black that he would obscure even the darkness of hell!"

Another censored version was published in the UK in 1932. When the full, unedited version, was released in a cheap paperback format by Penguin in 1960, it caused a sensation. Bookshops all over England have sold out of Penguin's first run of the controversial novel Lady Chatterley's Lover – a total of 200,000 copies – on the first day of publication.

The publication led to Penguin being charged for obscenity, under the new Obscene Publications Act 1959. During the trial prosecution counsel Mervyn Griffith-Jones became the figurehead for an out-of-touch establishment when he asked: "Is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?"

The jury found Penguin not guilty, freeing the book to be published. The trial led to more freedom for publishing explicit material in the UK.

The second edition of the book, published in 1961, contains a dedication to the jurors of the 1960 trial: "This edition is therefore dedicated to the twelve jurors, three women and nine men, who returned a verdict of 'not guilty' and thus made D. H. Lawrence's last novel available for the first time to the public in the United Kingdom".

Return to TV

The new adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover will air on BBC One on 6 September.

A BBC source said: "Downton Abbey is hard to compete against but we think Lady Chatterley's Lover will do the job. Downton is very tame compared to this classic story. It is one of the hottest stories of the past century."