BBC launches raunchy rival to Bridgerton with The Pursuit of Love – starring scandal-hit Lily James and Dominic West

HOLD on to your bloomers, there’s a sexy new drama to rival bonking smash Bridgerton.

The Pursuit Of Love is set to get us all hot under the corset – and is so sensual it even led to a real-life fling among the cast.


In October its leading stars Dominic West and Lily James were seen kissing passionately on a romantic Rome break.

It came just weeks after Dominic, 51, and Lily, 32, filmed the three-part adaptation of the Nancy Mitford novel, which starts tomorrow on BBC1.

It would seem that romance blossomed on the set despite the fact their characters, Matthew and Linda Radlett, are actually uncle and niece.

But just how does it match up tp the sex-soaked drama of Netflix’s Bridgerton. Here we take a look at the similarities between the two shows, and how it could have inspired such passionate abandon…

LUSTY LILT V SEXY SOPHIE

The Leading Lady

Like Bridgerton’s Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, The Pursuit of Love’s leading lady Linda has one clear goal: to find a husband and start a new life away from her family.

But whereas Daphne is initially motivated by social status and pressure from her family, Linda is a hopeless romantic who goes on a sexual journey of discovery with her cousin Fanny, played by Emily Beecham.

It’s a path which infuriates her abusive, fiercely xenophobic father ‘Uncle’ Matthew, played by Dominic.

Particularly when she pursues impulsive marriages with German-descended toff Tony Kroesig, played by Freddie Fox, and penniless communist Christian Talbot, played by James Frecheville.

In episode one Linda sets out her mission statement: “I want to have fun and wear high heels and have sex and be adored by a man.”

HOT DUKE V HOT DUKE

The Dishy Duke

Both Daphne and Linda experience sexual awakenings after falling for a hunky toff.

Fans of Rege-Jean Page, who played Simon Bassett in the Netflix epic, are set to fall just as hard for French actor Assaad Bouab, who plays another duke, Fabrice de Sauveterre.

He swoops in to save a cash-strapped Linda in Paris, showering her with gifts and fancy clothes – but the similarities don’t stop there.

Both women initially have major reservations about the men they fall for. In Bridgerton Daphne is wary of Simon’s reputation as a ladies’ man.

And in The Pursuit of Love Linda has substantial reservations about her duke who is branded “one of the most wicked men in Europe.”

But both fall for their respective aristocrats – and can’t wait to get into bed with them.

THE STATELY BACKDROPS

Bridgerton used the grand backdrops of 18th Century pile Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, which was also the location where seminal Eighties drama Brideshead Revisited was made.

They also filmed in Somerley, a stately home on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire, as well as The Reform Club in London and Lancaster house, which also doubled up as Buckingham Palace in Netflix’s The Crown.

Meanwhile, the list of grand homes is equalled in The Pursuit of Love. The Jacobean Rousham House in Oxfordshire is used as the family home of Linda, called Aconleigh.

Baroque Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire was used for its stunning gardens, as was Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire, Badminton House in Gloucestershire.

Not surprisingly the Royal Crescent in Bath was used in both Bridgerton AND The Pursuit of Love.

THE COSTUMES

BOTH shows are period dramas, but while Bridgerton focuses solely on the 1813 social season in Regency era London, The Pursuit of Love stretches across multiple time periods and locations.

The action hops between Oxfordshire, London, Paris and the Pyrenees, taking in the Roaring Twenties, the Spanish Civil War in the Thirties and the Blitz in the Fourties.

But despite the differences, both shows are filled with lavish outfits that are distinctive to their age and the upper classes who wear them.

Both sexy and sophisticated, they provide the perfect attire for balls, grand dinners, and high society receptions where women were showcased to potential male suitors.

Though The Pursuit of Love offers the most ostentatious events – particularly the scenes where Lord Merlin, played Fleabag’s Hot priest Andrew Scott, is seen snogging androgenous groupies in outrageous outfits.

THE SEX SCENES

OTHER than getting a tutorial in self-pleasuring from Simon Bassett, chaste Daphne doesn’t really discover the full joy of sex until the couple marry.

But Linda is obsessed with bonking from the start, confesses to masturbating over Lady Jane Grey and pins Fanny to the bed while role-playing a romp with her celebrity crush, the Prince of Wales.

She even ditched her newborn daughter for wild nights out that end with her draped across hordes of men in bed and stumbling home at midday in the previous night’s outfit.

Daphne got plenty of action herself, but nothing compared to lascivious Linda when she meets her duke. She is described as “experiencing a physical sensation unlike anything she’d known before” and being confused as to “how after only five minutes of acquaintance she could yearn so desperately to be in bed with this man.”

Viewers are treated to scenes of them writhing between the sheets and a naked Linda straddling Fabrice.

THE IRONY

WHEN the equally attractive Rege Jean Page and Sophie Dyvenor were seen sending sparks flying during their sex scenes, everyone naturally wondered if that continued when the cameras stopped rolling.

But she was quick to dispel and rumours saying: “I’d love to say there was really something between us, but no, it has always been strictly professional.”

In contrast, Lily and Dominic’s characters may have been related but that didn’t stop a romance developing.

The drama will make for particularly uncomfortable viewing for married Dominic. But it won’t be easy for Lily, who once dated The Crown’s Matt Smith and is now believed to be in a relationship with Stone Age rocker Michael Shuman, 35.

Some of the lines will be particularly cringeworthy, particularly a scene where Linda describes a 45 year-old man as too old to date. Dominic is 51.

And his character in The Pursuit of Love is seen saying: “An adulterous woman is the most disgusting thing.”

Awkward.

THE SISTERS

THE Pursuit of Love’s racey storyline is eclipsed by the real life experiences of the woman who wrote the novel – and her five younger siblings who were the Kardashians of their day.

The book, first published in 1945, is actually semi-autobiographical and reflects the author’s own experiences of finding love and lust against a backdrop of being raised by eccentrics in stately homes.

Nancy was born in 1904 and died in 1973, and became one of Britain’s most acclaimed writers, also penning Love in a Cold Climate in 1949, which has been adapted twice for TV – in 1980 for ITV and in 2001 for the BBC.

Only Pam Mitford kept a low profile, preferring a quiet life on a farm than the spotlight of high society.

In stark contrast was her sister, Diana Mitford, became “the most hated woman in Britain” when she married Oswald Mosley, head of the British Union of Fascists.

Unity Mitford was a total fascist who was with Adolf Hitler but shot herself when World War Two broke out, hile Communist Decca Mitford eloped with Winston Churchill’s nephew to the Spanish Civil War.

Perhaps the best known was Deborah Mitford who became the Duchess of Devonshire, and was the last of the six siblings to die, aged 94. in 2014.

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