Is Tuppence TV's naughtiest star? Bed-hopping antics of War and Peace's outrageous Helene (and her SEVEN lovers) have shocked viewers... but they haven't seen anything yet
- Tuppence Middleton plays the amoral aristocrat Princess Helene Kuragin
- The BBC's adaptation of War And Peace sees her in many steamy scenes
- Portrayal of incestuous relationship with her brother has been criticised
- She also gets hot and heavy with a Tsar, an army officer and her husband
Scheming: Tuppence Middleton as Princess Helene Kuragin
The bed-hopping antics of the scheming Helene Kuragin in the first episode of the BBC’s lavish new adaptation of War And Peace sent viewers’ temperatures soaring.
The fortune-hunting aristocrat was shown sharing a bed with her brother Anatole before going on to tantalise Pierre Bezukhov, the hapless hero of the show, into an unlikely marriage.
And, as The Mail on Sunday’s exclusive pictures from episodes two and three show, the Russian princess has no intention of letting wedlock get in the way of her sex life.
As the series progresses, she will take a seemingly endless stream of lovers.
It all leaves rising star Tuppence Middleton, 28, the actress who plays the amoral aristocrat, with a rather questionable notoriety.
Andrew Davies, the show’s writer, who is known for sexing up his literary adaptations, said: ‘I think she probably is the naughtiest woman on TV at the moment.
‘I don’t know what Tolstoy thought of Helene but I instantly took rather a liking to her. I was quite sympathetic to her. It was one way of dealing with being a woman in an age when men made all of the decisions.
Married: Tuppence as Helene with her husband Pierre
Brother: Davies’s decision to make the relationship between Helene and her brother Anatole incestuous upset some Tolstoy purists, who accused him of going too far
‘Tuppence completely got what I was after when I was writing it. She actually makes more of it than I actually dreamed of.’
And Edward K. Gibbon, the show’s costume designer, said: ‘Helene is very decadent and gives the impression that she is going to wear a dress once and it’s going to be abandoned on someone’s bedroom floor. She has incredible sexual confidence.
‘And Tuppence gives it everything she has got. Her clothes look as if they are about to fall off her back and we played with that and tried to accentuate it.’
Middleton, who appeared in the films Trance and The Imitation Game, is now in danger of stealing the thunder of the show’s more established stars, including Downton Abbey’s Lily James and heart-throb James Norton of Happy Valley fame.
Conquests: Helene and her lovers army officer Drubetskoy and Tsar Alexander
Davies’s decision to make the relationship between the Kuragin siblings incestuous upset some Tolstoy purists, who accused him of going too far.
But the writer, whose adaptations of Bleak House and Pride And Prejudice won acclaim, insisted Tolstoy had hinted at such a relationship in the original novel and he was only expanding on the original idea.
He said: ‘Helene and Anatole are just so cool about it. It’s just another thing to them. You think, “My God, these people are quite amoral, aren’t they?” Yes they are. But they see themselves as fine.’
Shameless: Tuppence as Helene appears nude and 'beds' family friend Dolokhov (right)
The buzz surrounding Middleton is being helped by the fact that she is also starring as Miss Havisham in another BBC drama series, Dickensian. But in that show she is a naive woman who has been exploited by a handsome cad.
Not all viewers have warmed to Davies’s version of War And Peace.
Tolstoy scholar Andrew Kaufman has been critical of the incest scenes, and said some of Helene’s sexual conquests in the drama were ‘hilarious’ and not in the actual novel.
He said: ‘It makes you ask what is valid for an adaptation. Is a drama supposed to be faithful to the novel, or is it supposed to communicate the essential elements or themes of the novel?’
- Episode two of War And Peace is on BBC1 tonight at 9pm
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You know you're old when Tolstoy stars start getting younger
The director of the 1972 TV production of War And Peace has fired a fierce volley at young star James Norton, who plays the brooding Prince Andrei Bolkonsky.
Norton, 30, is one of a very youthful cast in the new production.
And though Norton is just a year younger than Tolstoy made the prince in his book, John Davies, who cast much older actors in his 1970s version, says he is too fresh-faced to convey realistically the world-weary character created by the author.
Mind the gap: Alan Dobie, 40 (left) and James Norton, 30, as Bolkonsky
Davies said: ‘Andrei is not a young romantic lead, which is what he is in the new version. He is disillusioned and a strange, cold individual.
‘That only works if he is much older and has achieved that much cynicism.’
Norton is ten years younger than the man Davies cast in the role. His choice, Alan Dobie, was 40 when he delivered an acclaimed performance as the dour Russian aristocrat.
Other critics have also questioned the youthfulness of the new cast, pointing out, for example, that the Prince is meant to be much older than Natasha Rostova – played by 26-year-old Lily James – yet they look the same age.
Not all are younger than the originals. At 47, Gillian Anderson, who plays hostess Anna Pavlovna Scherer, is 11 years older than Barbara Young was in the role in 1972.
Time warp: Anne Blake, 64, left, and Rebecca Front, 51, as Anna Drubetskaya
New generation: Barbara Young and Anthony Hopkins, left, in the same roles as Gillian Anderson and Paul Dano
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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3392060/Is-Tuppence-TV-s-naughtiest-star-fans-War-Peace-s-outrageous-Helene-SEVEN-lovers-haven-t-seen-yet.html#ixzz3wsTRhjc2
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