Many a woman has swooned over Mr Darcy as he emerged from Pemberley's lake, his billowing white shirt clinging to his shapely torso. But screenwriter Andrew Davies has revealed that he originally intended actor Colin Firth to bare a whole lot more when he climbed out from the water.
"The wet shirt scene was intended to be a total full-frontal nudity scene," he said, speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival.
"Darcy was an actual man but he spent all his time being constrained by demands of society. He'd just spent weeks and months in London being polite with a group of stuffy people. He would have had a few hours in which he could be blissfully alone. It's a hot day, he arrives at this lake - so I thought he would strip completely off and dive down and just become a creature, an animal, just for once."
Obviously, the scene never made it to screen for reasons unknown to Davies. "I don’t know the reason why – maybe they felt it would have taken too long to get him undressed. They could have always cut to him standing on the bank diving in naked so it might have been something about Colin’s anxiety about love handles or something."
Either way, the sequence remains one of the most iconic in television history, even if it was not always intended that way. "The following scene where he talks to Elizabeth was just going to be a funny little scene about social embarrassment," admitted Davies. "Here’s two people having a little conversation. One of them is wet and neither of them refers to it, but infact it seems to have affected women in quite a different way, but who am I to complain."