Love was many splendoured in this week’s TV

TV Choice: What to watch on TV and Streaming this week

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We’re familiar with stiff-upper-lipped period dramas all about restraint in romance.

So the impassioned and impulsive protagonists in DH Lawrence’s Women In Love (Thursday, BBC4) might not appeal to those who prefer their smouldering to be done beneath the surface Austen-style.

But sisters Ursula (Rachael Stirling) and Gudrun (Rosamund Pike) Brangwen are much easier to identify with than many a period drama heroine. Their concerns and characters seem much more akin to modern day women.

Set in early 20th-century Nottinghamshire – a time of technological innovation and enlightenment – the two sisters search for love and passion.

Teacher Ursula suffers a miscarriage and is then raped and stranded miles from home by her former lover, after she returns his engagement ring.

Meanwhile, artist Gudrun runs away to Brighton for a dirty weekend with her married lover. He leaves part-way through ending the affair, before going home and also leaving his wife who then publicly accosts Gudrun for being a home-wrecker.

The sisters’ parents, Anna (Saskia Reeves) and Will (Ben Daniels), are much more likeable and interesting, deciding to revive the spark in their marriage.

In a separate plot strand, a magnetic relationship is developing between Rupert Birkin (Rory Kinnear) and Gerald Crich (Joseph Mawle).

Those who have seen Ken Russell’s big screen adaptation of DH Lawrence’s novel will tell you there’s one scene that overwhelms the rest. It involves Oliver Reed wrestling naked with Alan Bates.

Though it’s impossible to get away from the sex at the centre of Lawrence’s source material, William Ivory, who adapts the story and its companion piece, The Rainbow, for this new, two-part drama, has decided to steer clear of titillation and concentrate on conveying the complex, sensual relationships between the Brangwen sisters and friends Rupert and Gerald.

Next week the quartet head abroad, but the trip ends in conflict and tragedy.

Elsewhere on the box this week the gamut of love and marriage was covered with Panorama’s My Big Fat Fake Wedding documentary and the end of BBC3’s How To Live With Women series.

At the same time as BBC4 was screening Women In Love, BBC One was revealing that an estimated 600 sham weddings take place across the UK every year, with some experts predicting they will soon become even more common.

But those couples on How To Live With Women, which came to a close on BBC3 on Monday, were certainly in it for the long-haul, committing to co-habitation classes.

What a fabulous idea, and one that the characters in Women In Love could certainly have done with.

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