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From the sodden to the shirtless: a brief history of period drama’s most iconic scenes of sexual tension

Don’t be fooled by those innocent blushes and courteous exchanges, period dramas do sexual tension like no-one else. Four-poster beds, corsets, not to mention all those underclothes, it seems that today’s script writers can’t help themselves adding in the odd bit of raunchiness.  

But to create a truly memorable scene involves real genius. From explicit heaving bosoms and unexpected full-frontals to a topless Poldark tending the fields or just the sight of Colin Firth in a wet shirt, the iconic sex scenes on this list are an eclectic bunch.


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