Part 2 of “Tipping The Velvet,” the first film in the alternative lifestyle genre to feature an instructive message.


We give “Tipping the Velvet” four stars (Excellent)

Tipping the Velvet has a wonderful cast and presentation, and its message about innocence, desire, passion, betrayal, empathy, change, independence, resourcefulness, vision, love, happiness while maintaining a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem makes it a film worth seeing.

A film celebrating a nonconformist way of life has a happy conclusion much less often than you might think.

Because of the importance of relationships in everyone’s lives, I tend to evaluate contentious films.

The relationships I have with my wife, my kids, my grandkids, my extended family, and my friends are more valuable to me than any amount of money or material possessions I could ever hope to acquire. Long-term, it does not matter if we approve or disapprove of someone is lifestyle choices as much as it does that they are happy with their lives.

The BBC has done a great service by airing this film, as it has all the hallmarks of a high-quality BBC production: excellent scripting, sound mixing, cinematography, direction, and acting.

British screenwriter Andrew Davies, winner of an Emmy, adapted Sarah Waters’ critically acclaimed debut novel Tipping the Velvet. Davies is also responsible for the screenplays for such classics as “Doctor Zhivago,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “Vanity Fair,” and “Pride and Prejudice.” Davies is a heavyweight powerhouse.

In the 1890s, at her father’s seaside restaurant in Victorian England, Nan Ashley (Rachael Starling, the real-life daughter of Diana Rigg) shucks oysters and serves guests.

The remarkable performance of Kitty Butler, a beautiful touring male impersonator, causes Nan’s boring life to be turned upside down (Keeley Haws). When Kitty, who is performing in Whitstable, asks Nan to be her dresser, Nan’s curiosity is piqued.

To help her look her best, Kitty begs Nan to travel to London with her when she follows Walter Bliss’s (John Bowe) advice and leaves for a career as a famous performer. After falling for Kitty, Nan secretly begins performing alongside her in her act. For Nan, the relationship is blissful, and her happiness is genuine—until she returns from a trip home and learns that Kitty and her manager Walter have fallen in love and are getting married.
Betrayal and rejection have met Nan’s naiveté and yearning head-on. Despite her loss of hope, Nan eventually comes out of her lethargy and asserts her autonomy by engaging in oral sex for money on the streets of London while disguised as a young guy. After a wealthy widow rescues Nan from an attacker, the two engage in lesbian sex while enjoying the luxuries the widow can afford. The need to please and be pleased consumes Nan, making her a prisoner and slave to her desires.

After an argument with the widow Diana Leathaby (Anna Chancellor), Nan is kicked out and left to her own devices in the street with only the clothing on her back. Nan is determined to make it through this ordeal. After learning about the condition of the poor, Nan seeks the aid of the one person she can recall from happier times, Florence Banner (Jodhi May).

Nan is fatigued and battered when she is taken in by Florence and her brother Ralph (Hugh Bonneville), but she is determined to reform her ways and stay with them for the night. Cleverly, she manages to persuade Florence and Ralph that she can help them with the baby they are raising if they give her a chance to clean, cook, and monitor the child.

Nan’s plan is to make herself so valuable to the Banner family that they will keep her around no matter how far she is come in the past seven years—from naiveté to unrestrained desire to debauchery to sobriety to acceptance. Nan and Florence end up in a romantic relationship. Then, when Kitty finds out that Nan is back on stage, she decides to reenter Nan’s life in an effort to restore their tumultuous relationship.

So, Nan has to choose between the alluring and fiery Kitty and the dependable and doting Florence. By choosing to remain with Florence, Nan finally finds the love and happiness she had always sought but never before experienced. Tipping the Velvet is a great film thanks to its satisfying conclusion. When it is all said and done, Nan and Florence make it through their relationship as two healthy, independent people who finally discover each other and move forward with their lives together.

The critics, and notably Hollywood, ignored Tipping the Velvet, with the exception of a few honours from lesbian theatre groups. That is why I write reviews—to weed out the fluff and give credit where credit is due when it comes to good filmmaking.

The sooner we realise that no matter our differences in colour, culture, mores, or way of life, we all share a common humanity, the greater our appreciation for these similarities will be. When we are denied love and acceptance, we suddenly realise how precious they are. We often choose the ease of opinion to the effort of reflection. I put my faith in what John F. Kennedy said.

And what exactly does it mean to “tip the velvet”? Watch it not to learn the meaning of “tipping the velvet,” but because it is a fantastic movie on non-mainstream ways of living. Back movies that help people connect with one another and the world.

(This is Part 2 of a 2-Part Review, Editor’s Note.)

Protected by copyright 2007 Bagley, Ed

Ed Bagley’s Blog Features Unique Content Analyzing and Commenting on the Following Five Areas: Sports, Film Reviews, Life Lessons, Employment, and Online Marketing. It is my hope that you will find this piece to be interesting and inspiring.



2022-10-12 23:15:00