Sex Story: 50 Shades of Grey

UK broadcaster Channel 4 is airing a special on ’50 Shades of Grey’ at 22.00 on Sunday 29th July. From the details so far released about the programme (below), it sounds like it will make interesting viewing! 

Sex Story: 50 Shades of Grey looks at the phenomenon that is the UK’s fastest selling paperback of all time. Has Fifty Shades of Grey really transformed us from a nation of prudes to one of happy spankers? It may have brought bondage into the mainstream, but are we Brits really ready to take the plunge and embrace a spot of sexual experimentation?

From visiting a spanking class where novices are trained in the art of a good caning to exploring the world of an S&M couple, who have written sex contracts with each other and have honed their more extreme practice to perfection. This documentary will uncover what the Fifty Shades of Grey craze tells us about 21st century Britain. The sociological and cultural effects it’s having in the UK will be tested, as sales of obscure classical music and bondage gear are found to be on the increase. A book club from north Yorkshire read the bestseller for the very first time and share their verdict whilst the UK’s leading adult retailer Ann Summers reveal what steps they are taking to exploit this latest trend. Psychologist and sex columnist Pamela Stephenson and Brooke Magnanti, writer and author of Belle De Jouralong with others also tell viewers their reaction to the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.

The book has crossed continents, class barriers and even the context in which porn is actually read – on the train, in book groups and even at the hairdressers. This cultural phenomenon could only have happened in the digital age, as the book that began online as free fan fiction has turned into a publishing spectacle, making an epic journey from online to Kindle to paperbacks selling out in supermarkets.

Using archive footage, we’ll compare this latest spectacle with the other S&M books and films that have made a cultural splash – does this particular book really go further than any mainstream erotica has gone before? This documentary will place the Fifty Shades of Grey in the context of a well-established tradition of erotic writing that’s long been getting us hot under the collar and making us wonder what everyone else is really getting up to in the bedroom.

Victoria Coren’s hilarious column in this week’s Observer is also all about the novel – it’s worth a read. Click here.