Adult Lives


A major factual series for BBC2 that takes the temperature of contemporary adult relationships with 10 films giving an insightful slice of today’s Adult Lives.

Adult Lives explores the subject of sex through a series of personal narratives in which real people talk about the role that sex plays in their lives. Each contributor adds their own different perspective, drawing out the theme that sex has different meanings for everyone – and how it’s much more about what’s in the mind than what’s happening to the body. The programmes aim to provoke debate and enlightenment rather than sensation.

BBC 2, 1999

Executive Producer: Adam Alexander
Series Producer: Emma Read
Series Director: Colin Luke


“What does sex mean to people today? That was the question Mosaic Films tackled when the BBC asked them to produce Adult Lives, a series of thought provoking films discussing the place sex has in real people’s lives and the issues that people face in their own adult relationships.”
– The Scotsman

“A season of programmes that offer deeply personal, idiosyncratic, honest and often uncomfortable attitudes towards sex. They are bound to incite vigorous debate.”
– Radio Times

“sexy freakshows”
– Polly Toynbee, Radio Times

“Marvellously entertaining collection of documentaries”
– Dominic Smith, Heat

“this is very much grown-up stuff – but then that’s exactly what it says on the tin”
– Glyn George, The Express

“the sheer scope of the subject matter is impressive”
– The Independent

“A series more thoughtful than prurient.”
– Chris Dunkley, Financial Times

“Denounced in advance by BBC old school moral guardian Polly Toynbee as a sexploitative exercise in dumbing down… in fact, rather than being puerile, prurient, or awash with gratuitous nudity, many of the nightly Adult Lives programmes were commendably grown-up, frank, and matter of fact in their recordings of ordinary folks’ feelings about a topic in which many of us tend to have an extraordinary interest: sex.”
– David Belcher, The Herald


Village Vice
A table dancing club has opened in Brackenbury Village, London, and the residents are up in arms. The film follows the story of Secrets as it is forced through the courts by the local council in an attempt to curtail the intimacy of table dancing.

“the most interesting programme…..a paradigm for the series and the reactions to it”
– Chris Dunkley, Financial Times

Mistress Maria
Jenny works as a dominatrix. She does it because it’s what she’s good at and she gets paid. Going behind the scenes of her life as a prostitute, we learn that Jenny’s children are the centre of her world and discover how the experiences of her own childhood inform her adult life.

“Maria herself was a hugely sympathetic character; brave, resourceful, intelligent, yet emotionally crippled by a childhood full of sexual abuse. And it was made sensitively.”
– Brian Viner, Sunday Times

“the most harrowing film”
– Lewis Jones, Daily Telegraph

“a sad and disturbing look at the world of the dominatrix…. difficult but enlightening viewing”
– Dominic Smith, Heat

– Radio Times

How Is It For You?
An open and honest look at the most intimate subject – orgasms. This film reveals much about ourselves, our attitudes and prejudices, in an acutely observed and non-judgemental manner.

“by far the most entertaining and original material concerns the least exotic and most commonplace subject matter – orgasms.”
– Jim Shelley, The Guardian

“just about every opinion and account on view here is different”
– Tony Patrick and Louise Godfrey, The Times

Rona and Barry
Rona and Barry are swingers and anything goes. They’re liberated and uninhibited and happy to share their views with us. Whether one approves of sexual permissiveness or not, their relationship and sexual adventures in swinging and tantric sex make for an entertaining and thought provoking film.

“a wonderfully funny documentary about the lives of an unlikely looking ‘swinging’ couple”
– Evening Standard

Did You Get His Number?
Laybys, public toilets, clubs and parks…gay men can find lots of places for sex very easily and without the heterosexual rituals of courtship to slow them down. We follow several young, single, gay men and discover the consequences of their behaviour for each of them.

“A fascinating account of the gay cruising scene”
– Dominic Smith, Heat

“Touching but never soppy”
– Time Out

Yours Faithfully
People from a wide range of backgrounds in frank discussion on topics such as flirting, jealousy and age; talking openly and honestly about their relationships and their attitudes towards fidelity.

“this engaging episode”
– The Evening Standard

Welcome to Norfolk Mr Griffin
Norma is a 64 year old widow with a penchant for young black men from the Caribbean. She is not one to let age get in the way of an active sex life. We follow Norma and her latest conquest. Despite their differences, can true love win out?

“a poignant study of disappointed dreams, and tricks played by fate”
– Time Out

“….had its own wild, surreal appeal”
– Nancy Banks-Smith, The Guardian

“Adult Lives has been termed a freak show. This is nonsense, but much of the uncomfortable reaction has surely to do with the fact much is about people over fifty having sex….Welcome to Norfolk was quite mind boggling”
– The Birmingham Post

Permission to Love
Two couples with one thing on their mind – to have a loving sexual relationship and live together. The only thing that stands in their way is the fact that they have learning disabilities. This is an honest portrait which shows how the differing attitudes of people around them turns behaving like ordinary couples into an uphill struggle.

“there’s a particular poignancy to the stories of two mentally handicapped couples”
– Lewis Jones, The Sunday Telegraph

Does Your Mother Know?
Sex education for Britain’s teenagers is often rudimentary, so young girls turn to magazines like 19 to find out what they need to know. Although much of the content features fashion, beauty and teenage life, sex has a central place in the magazine. But some mothers find their daughters’ reading matter goes too far.

“I couldn’t help but gasp, not just because I was shocked, even though I was, but because I am now officially very old and every teenager in the land has the right to yell at me: ‘You just don’t understand!'”
– Sarah Moola, The Sun

White Wedding
Mark and Michelle are getting married. As devout Christians, it is a cornerstone of their faith to remain virgins until they are wed. We follow the couple as they prepare for the big day and on their honeymoon – was it worth the wait?

“a tender story of two young Christians waiting until they are married to consummate their relationship”
– Kim Bunce, The Observer

“they may be unfashionable, but they present an attractive picture and seem eminently sensible”
– Tony Patrick, The Times

“rather charming… short and sweet”
– Mathew Bond, The Daily Telegraph

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