In the wake of the #MeToo scandal which swept through Hollywood, many people have hoped that the notion of the ‘casting couch’ was out, while ‘intimacy co-ordinators’ (who make sure everyone is comfortable with what they are being asked to do while filming sex scenes) are in.
But just how much has really changed in the industry, and can romance still blossom on set?
Those are some tricky subjects for a comedy drama to tackle, so Sarah Solemani and Steve Coogan arguably deserve plaudits just for having a go in their new series Chivalry, which they co-wrote and co-star in.
Solemani, who has previously starred in Him and Her and Barry, is up for the challenge, saying: “Chivalry was born through a series of fiery debates with my comedy hero and renowned feminist, Steve Coogan. I am thrilled to be working with him… on bringing this timely story to the screen.”
Coogan, who to some viewers will always be Alan Partridge, added: “I am delighted to be working with the very funny, clever Sarah Solemani in the landscape of what in less enlightened times was called ‘the battle of the sexes’.
“Chivalry is more of a painfully honest, funny fencing match. We will attack, riposte, lunge, parry and counter-parry and perhaps, when the bout is over, take off our masks revealing our true selves.”
It seems plenty of other people have faith in their ability to bring this to the screen as Chivalry boasts an impressive supporting cast, including Sienna Miller, Aisling Bea, Adjani Salmon, Lolly Adefope and Wanda Sykes, who was recently seen co-hosting the Oscars.
However, the lead roles are taken by the show’s creators. Solemani plays Bobby, an indie filmmaker who scored a critical hit with her low-budget debut movie. A studio promises to fund her follow up, a feminist Biblical biopic, on the condition that she steps in to help with the reshoots on a controversial thriller first.
In the first episode of the opening double bill, she meets the film’s producer, Cameron (Coogan) a “ladies’ man” who has enjoyed huge success in the past but fears that this could be the project that ruins his career – unless Bobby can ‘detoxify’ it.
Together, they have to convince a key player to come onboard, but the more Bobby learns about Cameron, the more she doubts her decision to work with him.
In the second instalment, Cameron is questioning his own past actions, especially after astute studio executive Jean (Sykes) confirms his worst suspicions. He also clashes with Bobby over the appropriateness of his relationships with women, but eventually they both come to the conclusion that they are here to reshoot the film, not to be friends. Unfortunately, it’s the actors who become the problem when Bobby tries to reclaim a controversial sex scene.
If two episodes just isn’t enough Chivalry, the full series will be available to stream or download for free on All 4 from midnight on Thursday 21 April.