Holdingit’s The central mystery of the corpse in the center of a quiet town gave way to a much more tender moment this evening when Brid and Sergeant PJ spent an evening making love together.
The couple, played by Derry Girls‘ Siobhan McSweeney and game of thrones‘ Conleth Hillend up in the bedroom after PJ saves Brid from a noisy party drinking alone.
Proving to be someone the other can confide in, their sweet friendship quickly turns into something more, and the next afternoon they undress and go to town. Embarrassed and nervous, this isn’t your classic Hollywood sex scene – they actually turn out to be something much more. It’s the kind of on-screen representation that isn’t often afforded to older actors, let alone those who circumvent typical stereotypes of what has been portrayed as “sexy” for years.
Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy, Siobhán explained why the scenes are so important to her, addressing the fact that it was rare to see “normal-looking” people having sex on screen – they were always, without fail, to be considered generically appealing to a general public.
“‘Normal people’ rarely lead normal lives on TV, do they? That was one of the main reasons I wanted to play Brid, because of that,” she said. . “It terrified me. The thought of it terrified me. Given that it’s all about lack of shame and being fed up, as an Irish woman I think it’s a very powerful topic. Any woman in general really – but we have our own flavor of shame in Ireland.
“I felt as an actor, and as a very talkative person, it was time for me to step up to the plate. I spoke, it’s time to step in.”
Sex scenes in general have become an integral part of the mainstream television zeitgeist, with some shows even going out of their way to be deliberately shocking in their portrayal of intimacy.
In the last two months alone, we’ve seen TikTok explode on the discovery of a scene in Netflix New cherry flavor which involves a woman giving birth to kittens from her abdomen while in the heat of passion. Foreigner – a show that’s never afraid to show sex on screen – takes its own dial up a notch with a man with sex with his wife while she was giving birthand in Disney+/Hulu’s Pam and Tommy, we had a full frontal talking penis scene followed by a series of sex scenes around a penthouse hotel room.
This is before even addressing the much more basic representations, such as Peaky Blinders see Sam Claflin’s Oswald Mosley in a clinch with Anya Taylor-Joy’s Gina or even in the ironic name normal people, featuring star couple Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones, who are absolute stunners anyway (and have since modeled for fashion brands).
So why is a tender sex scene like in Holding, where PJ is seen falling out of his pants as he tries to take them off and Brid warning him that she hasn’t shaved her bottoms in a while, turn out so rare?
The scene that unfolds sees the dazed couple attempt to navigate each other’s bodies for the first time, with Brid somewhat embarrassed as she stands in her underwear in front of him with her belly as his. The actors were both aware that this scene was not something usually seen on screen, and they hadn’t lost what they were taking.
“I know Conleth had apprehensions and we were all worried, and for good reason,” Siobhán told us. “Society repeatedly tells us that bodies like ours are not meant to be seen, or revered, or adored, or tender. They are there to serve your coffees or to bury your children or to educate your children, or to mother the protagonist, but our female bodies shouldn’t be enjoyed that way if you’re a certain shape.
“That’s what we were told, so why wouldn’t I believe the propaganda? Why wouldn’t I believe what my screen was telling me all the time? So that was incredibly terrifying.
“But fortunately, thanks to the guiding hand of Kathy Burke – I mean, what a captain of our ship! – we also had a very nice crew who made everything very beautiful, and everything about the work, because that’s what that it’s at the end of the day,” she added. “That’s my job. It’s normality. Why can’t we see this? Why can’t we celebrate this? That’s wonderful. And I think that moment – I mean, I don’t know because I still can’t look without putting my hands over my eyes – but I hope it’s beautiful and it’s tender and it’s more than most of the sex scenes I see on TV are.”
Ultimately, Siobhán hopes the sex scenes can start a conversation about portraying natural, normal bodies on screen.
“There’s a huge discussion around the male gaze versus the female gaze. It’s like boss feminism, and kind of a ladette [culture]”, she says. “Are we just emulating the male paradigm when it comes to showing pleasure and female bodies? Or are we creating something that is actually uniquely feminine?
“There’s a trillion examples out there. Like with porn, you can’t just make it female-friendly by using the same stories you use to please men, but put a bunch of women in it. That’s not how it works. It’s a different thing.
“To be honest, we were also indoctrinated for a very long time. It takes a long, long time to de-cultize. But, we had Karen Cogan as our co-writer, this extraordinary feminist with an amazing, clear, intelligent eye.
“She just had great clarity about what you wanted to see and especially with Brid, I think the women and the show are all amazing, both as characters and just like the performers themselves – like God, what lucky I was – but there’s something about Brid, her complexity that really evoked compassion and gentleness in so many people who read the script.”
Holding tunes Mondays at 9 p.m. on ITVand will be available on demand on ITV Hub.
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