1. Hannah and Adam (Girls).
The central Girls couple’s relationship is rarely less than bleak, but things reached a nadir early on in series one. Adam, mid-coitus, tells Hannah she’s a prepubescent prostitute “with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox” who will return to her parents “covered in come.”
2. Will gets it wrong (The Inbetweeners).
Will was always going to regret telling Charlotte he’d done it before. But after an unfortunate attempt (“Don’t move your whole body, just sort of move your hips”) it was clear the moment had gone. “Sorry to ask,” he pleaded like a lost deer, “but have I just lost my virginity?”
3. Stuart and Nathan (Queer As Folk)
Russell T Davies’ made his name with this groundbreaking 1999 drama about life on Manchester’s gay scene. The series started as it meant to go on, with the longest and most explicit gay sex scene on British TV before or since, between Stuart, a sexually athletic man in his late 20s and Nathan, a teenage boy. The programme received 163 complaints, none of which were upheld.
4. Cersei and Jaime (Game Of Thrones).
Because nothing sets out the scale of a show’s ambitions in boundary-pushing like a spot of anal incest in the very first episode.
5. Most of Secret Diary Of A Call Girl.
Because there was actually very little else in Billie Piper’s first role post-Doctor Who and good as she was in the role of Belle du Jour, it couldn’t stop things feeling awkward. But here was a highlight: “Mr Mayfair has an insatiable appetite for grinding away for hours on end,” revealed a bored Belle. “He might as well have been whittling a chair leg.”
6. Bree’s first orgasm (Desperate Housewives).
Poor Bree Van Der Kamp truly believed she was a woman of the world before meeting new beau Orson. “I don’t do that, I’m a Republican,” she at first protested. But after experiencing a puzzling sensation she was implored to visit the doctor. “It was like something ruptured. Not a rupture, more like a spasm… I think I might have had a small stroke.”
7. Kicking the bucket (Funland).
Jeremy League Of Gentlemen Dyson’s dark BBC Three comedy thriller from 2007 contained one of the most awkward sex scenes in living memory. Trying to spice up their relationship, Dudley (Kris Marshall) and his wife partake in a bizarre sequence where he keeps his foot in a bucket, because he thinks she likes it.
8. Lady Chatterley.
DH Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover was famously the subject of an obscenity trial. The BBC’s 1993 adaptation pulled no punches either but had to tone it down to go out on primetime. ”It’s a sexy series but it’s not all bonking,” said the producer. “It’s a great narrative, a classic novel, it has a lot of dimensions apart from the notoriety.
”We are treating this with the integrity it deserves. We have a sense of discipline and style and taste.” Even so, Joely Richardson and Sean Bean spent a good deal of their screentime bonking.