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Presenter Alice Levine talks to Stylist about her new docu-series, Sex Actually, the impact of candid conversations, and what it’s like to work with your TV hero.
There was a moment while Alice Levine was filming Sex Actually, her new Channel 4 docu-series executively produced by Louis Theroux, which explores sex and pleasure, when she was struck by the sheer comedy of the situation she’d found herself in. She was with a couple named Hywell and Jocelyn at the time, in their “gorgeous little chocolate-box cottage”, which also happens to have a sex dungeon in the basement.
“They’re into BDSM [bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism], and we had agreed I would watch a session,” Alice explains. “As it was happening, I noticed Hywell was wearing a helmet to avoid hitting his head on the low ceilings, so I said ‘Well, do I need a helmet?’ We went out to the garden shed to get one and he cleaned it up, blew the cobwebs off it – very dad-like – and then we both went back into the dungeon where his wife was tied up and ball gagged,” she laughs. “It felt absolutely ridiculous, but I love that, the absurdness.”
It’s these ordinary, human moments that happen alongside the extreme that fascinate Levine. “In another episode, about ‘camming’ [a term for live-streaming sex], we watch a performer washing her dildos in a sink”, she says. “It’s that kind of minutiae that we don’t usually get to see, and it’s what makes it weirdly relatable.”