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Tipping the Velvet
Directed by Geoffrey Sax
Produced by Georgina Lowe
Written by Sarah Waters (novel)
Andrew Davies
Starring Rachael Stirling
Keeley Hawes
Anna Chancellor
Jodhi May
Music by Adrian Johnston
Cinematography Cinders Forsha
Editing by Kristina Hetherington
Distributed by BBC
Release date(s) 2002
Running time 177 min. (3 parts)
Country  United Kingdom
Language English

Tipping the Velvet is a 2002 BBC television drama serial based on the bestselling debut novel by Sarah Waters of the same name. It originally screened in three episodes on BBC Two and was produced for the BBC by the independent production company Sally Head Productions. It stars Rachael Stirling, Keeley Hawes, and Jodhi May.

Directed by Geoffrey Sax, the novel was adapted by acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies. The production was made available on DVD by BBC Worldwide soon after broadcast.

Differences from the book

  • In the book, Nan's hair is described as dull and colourless and Kitty's hair is chocolate brown.
  • In the TV series, it is implied that Tony Reeves, Alice's boyfriend, is bisexual; in the book there is no mention of this.
  • Nan becomes Kitty's sidekick before they admit their feelings for each other in the BBC version.
  • Kitty and Nan, as their act brings in more revenue, move into a home of their own after living at the boarding house for some time.
  • In the BBC version, Florence and Nan kiss for the first time watching the Thames freeze over, but in the book it is Kitty and Nan who kiss for the first time in front of a frozen Thames; Florence and Nan kiss for the first time in her house.
  • The book reveals more of Kitty's motivations for her relationship with Walter: during a performance one evening in a rough theatre, a drunken patron shouts a Victorian lesbian slur at the duo, and Kitty, for the first time since Nan has known her, loses her nerve on stage and flees. Walter takes her home, and it is revealed later that they kiss for the first time that night while Nan is still at the theatre.
  • The BBC version has Diana rescue Nan from an attempted rape by a customer. In the book, Diana pursues Nan stealthily until Nan confronts her about being followed.
  • In the book, the meeting in the tearoom between Nan and Florence Banner does not take place, instead, Nan leaves Florence standing outside waiting, as she passes on her way to Diana Lethaby's in her coach, having already spent the previous night with Diana.
  • There is a scene in the book in Diana's social club where she presents Nan to her friends for the first time that is not included in the BBC version.
  • In the book, it is Florence who tells Nan what "tipping the velvet" means, as she is the more experienced one. In the BBC version, Nan tells Florence.
  • In the book near the end, Nan meets up with Zena Blake again, their differences resolved, they become friends once more.
  • In the novel, Nancy does not return to the stage. Instead she becomes more involved in Florence's Socialism projects. The books ending deals with Nancy and Florence fighting at a Socialist rally, where Nancy also remeets Kitty.


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