Tonight’s episode of raunchy BBC2 drama Harlots, which details the booming sex industry of 18th century London, left viewers on the edge of their seat after a tense chase scene in the woods.
The period prostitution drama, which originally aired on ITV Empire in 2017, follows the lives of feuding madams Margaret Wells (Samantha Morton) and Lydia Quigley (Lesley Manville), and the prostitutes who live in their brothels.
The second episode took a darker turn by focusing on a trip newbie Lucy (Eloise Smyth) took to the estate of aristocrats Lord and Lady Repton, only being told briefly of their ‘peculiar taste.’
Lucy soon found herself terrified after the sadistic couple chased her into the woods surrounding their estate under the pretence of taking her on a hunt, then scaring her by firing random shots at her.
Later on in the episode, uncomfortable Lucy had to give herself up to Lord Repton after angering him by insulting his manhood, calling him ‘Mister Wonky.
Fans of the show who’ve been following it on BBC 2 were shocked by the tense scene.
Tonight’s Harlots took a darker turn by focusing on a trip newbie Lucy Wells (Eloise Smyth) took to the estate of Lord and Lady Repton, aristocrats, we were told, who had ‘peculiar taste’
Viewers were shocked by the ‘dark’ turn of events as they watched the Reptons closing in on Lucy
All started well for Lucy in tonight’s episode, as she was received by the ‘kind’ Repton couple, who were awaiting them on the doorstep of their beautiful estate.
The inexperienced prostitute let herself be eased out of her worries by the couple, who gave her a friendly welcome inside.
Lady Repton even offered Lucy a present, handing her a pretty velvet box, with a female figurine inside, saying ‘a little doll for our little doll.’
The episode took a dark turn, however, when Lucy was invited to join the couple on a hunting afternoon.
Lucy was staying with the sadistic Lord Repton and his wife, who tormented the young prostitute
Lucy was put under a lot of stress in tonight’s episode of Harlots as she stayed with the Reptons
Dressed in a red coat and skirt, Lucy was handed a pistol by Lord Repton, who, under the encouragement of his wife, showed the sex worker how to use it, taking the opportunity to grope her.
After Lady Repton observed that Lucy was a ‘clever girl,’ she ran into the woods to leave her husband alone with her.
Lord Repton slipped his hand into Lucy’s cleavage and noted that her ‘heart is fluttering like a little beast.’
Uncomfortable, Lucy took a few steps back and asked where Lady Rapton had gone.
The Lord then advised her to start looking for his wife, pressing her to start running.
A scared Lucy was handed a gun and started looking around her, visibly distressed.
During dinner, Lucy offended Lord Repton by joking about his manhood, calling him ‘Mr Wonky’
With Lady Repton reemerging, the couple then started taunting her further, calling her names and telling she she’d better run.
As Lucy ran into the woods, a nail-biting scene showed her running for her life, while Lord Repton could be heard firing his gun at random.
The scene ended with Lucy tripping on her skirt, and firing a deadly shot at a deer that was nearby.
The uncomfortable scene left viewers worried for Lucy’s fate.
‘Are they actually hunting her for sport,’ one viewer asked.
Viewers felt for poor Lucy, who had to deal with the perverted couple. Some could not believe she was being hunted down for sport
‘This has gone… weird,’ said another.
‘Poor Lucy. Is the lord or lady the worst option? Tough call,’ one wrote.
‘#Harlots is mad,’ said another. ‘Yikes some men are truly pathetic’, said one.
‘Ugh imagine having to endure that grisly, perverted old man. Bet he has halitosis and smells of stale socks,’ said another, ‘Run Lucy run. You are their entertainment.’
‘Can’t tell who’s the bigger perv out of Lord & Lady Repton,’ asked another.
Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for Lucy, who offended Lord Repton by making an assumption his manhood was ‘wonky.’
The next day, Lucy woke up in pain, with bleeding marks on her shoulder after Lady Repton warned her her husband would ‘p***d her to tripe’
While laughing at first, the sadistic aristocrat coldly slapped his wife, who had laughed along at Lucy’s joke.
After Lord Repton announced his intention to retire to bed – with the understanding Lucy would be joining him,’ Lady Repton took the young girl aside.
‘Have you ever laid with a man after insulted his manhood,’ she asked, before adding: ‘He will p***d you to tripe.’
Lucy was later seen crying in bed with red scratch marks on her shoulder blades.
Harlots, season one airs on BBC Two on Wednesdays at 9pm and is available on BBC iplayer.
The guide to London’s sex workers that inspired Harlots
By Hallie Rubenhold for The Mail On Sunday
Harlot was inspired by the real people and events depicted in Hallie Rubenhold’s book, The Covent Garden Ladies, which details the story behind one of history’s most notorious publications, The Harris’s List Of Covent Garden Ladies.
At the beginning of Harlots, there is a flurry of excitement as the latest edition of The Harris’s List, a guide to the capital’s sex workers, arrives from the bookseller.
All of the ‘ladies of pleasure’ are eager to hear what has been written about them, anxious that whatever is said will make or break their careers in the sex trade. Scenes like this would have unfolded every Christmas between 1757 and 1795 when the guide rolled off the presses.
The Lists were more than just a dry catalogue of names and addresses, but a wittily written chronicle of London’s sex trade. Each edition contained information about the women who worked in it, providing details of their ages, physical appearance and sexual specialities as well as stories about these women’s lives.
The thousands of women from all walks of life who featured in its pages include the likes of Miss Noble who was known for her ‘skill in the reviving the dead’ with her tongue of ‘double charm’, or Miss West ‘who can pick her gallant’s pocket very coolly’ while in the act. Miss Love of 14 George Street is celebrated for her ‘dark complexion’.
The lists are filled with others who led lives as actresses, servants, shopkeepers, nursemaids and even a number who were married women. They ran the gamut in terms of age and appearance, from those described as ‘true beauties’ to others referred to as ‘veterans in the field of Venus’. Not all were confined to brothels.
The Harris’s List show that women often shared accommodation with other sex workers or lodged with ordinary families, such as green grocers and cabinet makers. Although Covent Garden was the centre of sin, filled with theatres, taverns, coffee houses and bath houses, there was no designated red-light district, and women lived in virtually every neighbourhood, from Fitzrovia to Mayfair, from Holborn to the City.
The Harris’s List cost two shillings and sixpence, which pushed it far out of range of the ordinary working man. Those women who appeared on it catered almost exclusively to middle-class men and above, but the sex trade catered to every strata of society, from the Prince to the dock worker.