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Man-mad Moll's bed and bawd; TV REVIEW.

We can't say we weren't warned. Her heaving bosom had been keeping our eyes off the road for weeks.

The shameless wench stared down from advertising hoardings with a glint in her eye that said whatever passed for "Hello Boys" in the 18th century.

I can only assume that TV bosses spent a small fortune plugging Moll Flanders (ITV) because they didn't want people to think they were in for yet another dose of Jane Austen.

Any fears of that were dispelled in the opening seconds when a jailer took local gentry to meet the lusty lass among the rats and the lowest of the low in Newgate Prison.

"I know who you have come to see. The wickedest woman in the world,"" he said.

I suspect he was exaggerating a tad to justify his tip but Daniel Defoe's bawdy heroine is certainly no Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse.

If the Olympics had existed, she could have bonked for Britain and brought home a trunk full of gold.

Granada Television must have thought they had won the Lottery when Andrew Davies blew the cobwebs off the infamous story of love, lust, sex and seduction.

You can imagine drama bosses rubbing their hands with glee when he handed them a classic excuse for lots of bedroom scenes and nudity.

Not content with man-mad Moll's five husbands and countless suitors, Mr Davies threw in a lesbian relationship that somehow Mr Defoe overlooked.

It makes a change from all those giggling girls going weak at the knees whenever someone in breeches touches his hat in the normal run of costume dramas.

Moll, who is aptly named, is made of stronger stuff than that. Separated from her mother at birth and raised by gypsies, she escaped from a life on the road because she fancied a future as a gentlewoman.

She used her wits as a child to secure a place in the household of the Mayor of Colchester, and her naughty bits when she blossomed into womanhood to make sure she stayed there.

And, 'pon my soul, 'twasn't easy for the poor girl. She fell for the rogue son of the family and was forced to marry his drip of a brother.

She couldn't believe her luck when he died five years later and immediately decamped to London to play the merry widow. Before you could say "loosen me corsets" she found another rich husband to marry and when she was not spending time in bed she was spending money like a future Duchess of York.

Flame-haired Alex Kingston set pulses racing as mucky Moll who thinks nowt of using her sexuality to advance her fortunes. She looked purpose built for bed-hopping and impishly talked to the camera like Michael Caine did as 20th century chancer Alfie in the movies.

The sex scenes were cheekier than most, in more ways than one. But it was in the best possible taste, as Kenny Everett used to say, and made a glorious romp.

Tonight Moll sets sail for New England and new conquests and I, for one, will be on bawd with her.

EVEN when he is not in Father Ted, Ardal O'Hanlon can be a bit of a dummy. For some reason he allowed ventriloquist David Strassman to take over The Stand Up Show (BBC1) when the best bits of his act had already been seen on this year's Royal Variety Performance.

The outrageous Yank went a step further with the comedy club audience by allowing his puppet, Chuck Wood, to throw up as well as spit and hurl insults.

Sick is the word.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Purnell, Tony
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 2, 1996
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