How 80 melted sex toys played a crucial role in the BBC’s Dracula

Yes, you heard

Dracula (Claes Bang) and Sister Agatha (Dolly Wells)

The new adaptation of Dracula from the team behind Sherlock has been touted as one of the darkest, goriest and generally weirdest versions of the classic vampire story – but as it turns out, we didn’t realise quite how weird it was behind the scenes as well.

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Speaking at a recent screening of the drama’s first episode, it was revealed that a crucial practical effect – a special interactive prosthetic that we won’t spoil here – could only be achieved by melting down and re-moulding some rather… adult material.

“The great terrible revelation of this whole thing is that the [effect] is literally made from melted-down sex toys,” series co-creator Mark Gatiss told the crowd. “Not, I hasten to add, used ones.”

“It was melted flesh-lights or something,” added star Dolly Wells, who plays Sister Agatha in the horror drama.

Apparently, to achieve the desired effect – which required tough but breakable and slightly translucent plastic – only the material from so-called “flesh-lights” (nicknamed because of their hollow interior and the flesh-like latex that lines the tube) could do the trick, and the production team duly got to work re-shaping the material for its appearance in the finished episode.

“Dave and Lou Elsey, who did the brilliant prosthetics, said the only latex which is sort of flexible enough is that!” Gatiss explained.

“In case anyone was wondering, it was 80. It takes 80 of those flesh-lights to do that,” series star Claes Bang, who plays Count Dracula, informed the crowd.

“There might be someone out there thinking, how many do I need to make something like that? 80 is the number.”

“It’s not going to look good on [our] accounting, is it?” joked executive producer Sue Vertue.

Still, perhaps this bizarre production detail is all-too appropriate for an adaptation that Gatiss describes as particularly “transgressive”.

Mother Superior (Joanna Scalan), Dracula (CLAES BANG), Sister Agatha (DOLLY WELLS)
Mother Superior (Joanna Scalan), Dracula (CLAES BANG), Sister Agatha (DOLLY WELLS)

“I think horror should not be cosy, and I think there are some really, really weird things in this. And I’m very proud of that,” he said.

“I think horror should be transgressive. Horror, over time, becomes very cosy. It’s an interesting cycle – Dracula and Frankenstein within 10 years were meeting Abbot and Costello.

“They become burlesque,” he concluded. “It seems to happen like that.”

Based on the sex toy bill alone, we doubt that anyone will be calling this particular Dracula “cosy”…

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Dracula comes to BBC One from Wednesday 1st January at 9pm