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Tipping the Velvet 

Set in the 1890's, tells the lesbian love affair between male impersonator music hall star Kitty Butler and Nan Astley.
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Series cast summary:
 Charles Frobisher 2 episodes, 2002
 Woman with Cigar 2 episodes, 2002
Carl Chase ...
Janet Henfrey ...
 Mrs. Jex 2 episodes, 2002
 Jimmy Burns 2 episodes, 2002
 Mrs. Denby 2 episodes, 2002
Sara Stockbridge ...


Dramatised from Sarah Waters' acclaimed debut novel, "Tipping the Velvet" tells the story of Nancy Astley (Rachael Stirling), a young girl who works as cook and waitress in her Father's seaside restaurant - that is until she witnesses the extraordinary performance of a new-to-town male impersonator - Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes) - and begins to undergo a complete life transformation. Suddenly whipped up - and quickly flung down - by her love affair with Kitty, she experiences both euphoria and deep disillusion as she embarks on a seven-year journey of self-discovery - finally realizing that a life of sensation just isn't enough. Written by Kanji

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

9 October 2002 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Besant el vellut  »

Filming Locations:


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Technical Specs


(3 parts)

Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


One of the songs in the film, "Following in Father's Footsteps," was originally performed by famous male impersonator Vesta Tilley in the London halls of Victorian England during the late 1800s, when "Tipping the Velvet" is set. See more »


The roses Kitty gives out in her act are obviously artificial. But later when Nan shows Kitty she kept the rose she received from her, the rose is wilted. See more »


Florence Banner: [after overhearing a prostitute in the women's bar talk about an easy and enjoyable job, Florence looks truly puzzled] Tipping the velvet? Why what ever can THAT be?
Nancy Nan Astley: [rather surprised at the question] You don't know?
Florence Banner: [Smiling] Well it sounds like something to do with dress making or millinary, but it can't be. No one would pay to watch that.
Nancy Nan Astley: [Laughing] No. It isn't.
Florence Banner: Well what then?
Florence Banner: [Nan has showed Florence the tip of her tongue, then pointedly nodded and looked at Florence's lap] Oh!
See more »


Featured in The Story of the Costume Drama: The Stars (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Very Sweet... Very Sexy
16 September 2004 | by See all my reviews

This wonderful 3 part BBC production is one of the sweetest love stories that I have seen in a while. The actresses display a very high level of talent, especially Rachael Stirling as Nan Astley. She is funny, seductive and cute. The love making scenes and the close up kisses are very erotic regardless of one's sexual preference.

The characters are well defined and very believable. I guess this is a by-product of a good adaptation from a well written novel.

A truly remarkable well paced drama that picks up speed quickly after a couple of boring (but necessary) scenes in the beginning.

My vote: 9/10

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