Viewers were enthusiastic about the debut of Georgian bonkbuster drama Harlots on BBC Two, with many on social media wondering how they hadn’t seen the racy historical drama before.
Harlots premiered on the now defunct channel ITV Encore in 2017 and was shown in the US on Hulu, but that network in June decided against renewing it for season four and the BBC swooped to pick up the three seasons from ITV Studios for broadcast on BBC Two. Star Lesley Manville was hopeful that season four might yet happen.
Great that hidden away shows (like #harlots on @BBCTwo now) are getting reshown on bigger channels. The energy that clearly goes into making all these programmes deserve these slots. I bet there’s still loads of hidden gems to uncover from many channels & moons ago! ????????
— ????Matt P-T ???????????? (@mattpt) August 5, 2020
Some viewers were big fans of Harlots already, having seen it on ITV Encore. This fan said “Get ready to fall in love with some amazing women.”
So happy that HARLOTS has a home on BBC2, with the first two episodes coming out tonight.
— Bronwyn James Official (@bronwynjames41) August 5, 2020
Harlots stars Downton Abbey actress Jessica Brown Findlay, Band of Gold’s Samantha Morton and Manville in the tale drawn from a historical book from 2005, The Covent Garden Ladies, by Hallie Rubenhold.
Besides the female dominated cast, Blackadder star Tim McInnerny caught this viewer’s attention.
Bit of a punch the air moment just now in #Harlots when Tim McInnerny turned up as a perverted old fop. It’s not the 18th century till he gets here.
— Mitch Benn???????????????? (@MitchBenn) August 5, 2020
Another simply tweeted: “Well, #Harlots is rather good.”
— Darren Lacey ????️???? (@dazlarrr) August 5, 2020
The ribald humour of the first episode was echoed on social media.
Samantha Morton’s knockers should be on the cast list #Harlots
— Traylor Holmes (@TraylorHolmes) August 5, 2020
Another viewer commented that the first episode was “a rip rollicking 50 minutes of rich and delicious language and performances”.
Well that was a rip rollicking 50 minutes of rich and delicious language and performances #Harlots
— SuzeCY (@festinagirl) August 5, 2020
Harlots’ wordplay and numerous gags was continually referenced on social media.
Calling your daughter Charlotte when she’s going to grow up to be a harlot #harlots
— Sally-Anne Tarpy (@SallyTarpy73) August 5, 2020
As much as Harlots was a social media sensation, however, not everyone was in love with the first episode.
One is that the women of the day spoke like middle-class stage school kids doing their best cockney.
— Hank (@Hank_redux) August 5, 2020
Elsewhere, this viewer was preoccupied with the historical accuracy of the drama.
I do wonder wether we'll get to see some secondary and tertiary syphilis in #harlots or a cleaned up picture of what prostitution entailed
— Irina (@Wer_ko_der_ko) August 5, 2020
All three seasons of Harlots will be broadcast on BBC Two after they were acquired from ITV Studios.
Sue Deeks, BBC Head of Programme Acquisition, said in a statement: “Aided by a truly magnificent cast, Harlots brings 18th Century London to life with enormous style, wit, intelligence and humour. BBC viewers will become immersed in the gripping lives of business women Margaret Wells and Lydia Quigley as they make their way in London’s grimy, decadent world.”
Harlots returns to BBC Two next Wednesday with episodes three and four. You can stream the entire first season on BBC iPlayer now.
If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.