Harlots

Series 1 - Episode 1

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Review

It’s London in 1763, where a woman’s only opportunity for economic advancement is to marry well or be a prostitute. The city’s bawdy houses are teeming with shrieking harlots and run by canny, cruel businesswomen such as Margaret Wells and Mrs Quigley (Samantha Morton and Lesley Manville).

Mrs Wells plans to auction her youngest daughter’s virginity to the highest bidder, just as she did with her oldest daughter (Downton’s Jessica Brown Findlay with a “cor blimey” accent).

But there’s a new morality in the air as religious crusaders demand the closure of brothels and the constables are only too happy to launch brutal raids.

It all adds up to a noisy, very colourful (the clothes and production design are magnificent) and of course a very bawdy boobs-and-bums romp that feels a bit like Desperate Romantics, though with women and without the paintings.

Summary

Period drama set in London in 1763 following a woman as she struggles to reconcile her roles as mother and brothel owner. Samantha Morton and Lesley Manville star.

Cast & Crew

Margaret Wells Samantha Morton
Lydia Quigley Lesley Manville
Charlotte Wells Jessica Brown Findlay
Florence Scanwell Dorothy Atkinson
Daniel Marney Rory Fleck Byrne
Nancy Birch Kate Fleetwood
Lucy Wells Eloise Smyth
Director Coky Giedroyc
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Drama